Former head of RCMP in Saskatchewan named province's lieutenant-governor

REGINA — A former head of the RCMP in Saskatchewan has been appointed the province's new lieutenant-governor.

Russell Mirasty, 62, becomes Saskatchewan's 23rd vice-regal representative.

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He takes over from Thomas Molloy, who died earlier this month at age 78 from pancreatic cancer.

Mirasty, whose first language is Cree, is a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band in northern Saskatchewan and had a 36-year career with the RCMP.

He was the first Indigenous person to command a division of the Mounties and is Saskatchewan's first lieutenant-governor of Aboriginal background.

Mirasty says he was surprised and honoured by the appointment and he wants to be judged by what he achieves in the role.

"I think I should be judged on my work versus who I am or in terms of my background," he said in an interview Wednesday.

"My post-RCMP career's work was in different areas. It certainly helped me gain a better understanding of these areas and my willingness to continue and contribute in different roles."

He is to be sworn in on Thursday at Government House so he can take up his duties immediately. A formal installation ceremony is to be held at a later date.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a news release that Mirasty's new role is in keeping with the dedicated public service he has given for much of his life.

"Known as a relationship-builder, Mr. Mirasty is an outstanding leader who paved the way for Indigenous peoples in the national police force," Trudeau said in the release.

"As lieutenant-governor of Saskatchewan, I know he will continue to make a difference for the people of his province and all Canadians, and inspire others to create change in their communities."

"With a deep connection to Saskatchewan's Indigenous communities and a background of service with the RCMP, Mr. Mirasty will bring a valuable perspective to a role that has a rich history of service to the people of Saskatchewan," added Premier Scott Moe in a statement.

Lieutenant-governors are the personal representatives of the Queen in their respective provinces and fulfil her roles and functions, including granting royal assent to provincial laws and visiting communities.

Their constitutional and ceremonial duties include presiding over the swearing-in of premiers, cabinet members and chief justices.

Mirasty joined the RCMP in 1976 and was one of only two Indigenous cadets in his troop at Depot Division in Regina. He served in various roles across the country, including as director general of National Aboriginal Policing Services, and became Saskatchewan's commanding officer in 2010.

After his retirement from the RCMP in 2013, he helped lead a provincewide consultation with students, parents and teachers on how to improve the education system.

He was also appointed to Saskatchewan’s advisory group on poverty reduction.

While his duties will take him to Regina, Mirasty said he and his wife will continue to live in La Ronge, where he was born and raised. They have two adult children and two grandchildren.

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