Several weeks ago the issue of Michaëlle Jean’s term renewal was one of much debate. It appears the debate has concluded, as Jean is to take on a job as the special envoy for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), when her Governor-General term ends in September.
After the 7.0 earthquake in Haiti in January, Jean said, "Like me, Haitian communities across Canada are heartbroken and overwhelmed by the magnitude of this catastrophe. The images and news reports are unbearable to watch," she said. "So much distress, suffering and loss. We are also, of course, imagining the worst, situations no image can capture that only increase our feeling of helplessness."
This high-profile role as the special envoy for the United Nation will extend her humanitarian efforts in Haiti. According to The Globe and Mail, “Her main goal will be to fight poverty and boost literacy rates in her home country of Haiti, where she will travel frequently. She will also aim to raise international funds for the nation, which was all but shattered by an earthquake in January.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper is welcoming of this decision. “As UNESCO Special Envoy to Haiti, Michaëlle Jean will draw upon her unique experience and dedication to Haiti, as well as her commitment to educational and cultural initiatives,” Mr. Harper said. “She will be in a position to further advance the international community’s response to the urgent needs in Haiti as it recovers from January’s devastating earthquake. The appointment is also a tribute to Canada’s leadership role in rebuilding Haiti.”
In addition, Jean has also established the Michaëlle Jean Foundation and will continue to promote educational and cultural initiatives in Canada. The organization aims to engage youth from underprivileged, rural and northern communities through art and other creative methods.
UNESCO special envoys are often chosen for their name recognition and their role model capacity and, "Through their professional activities and their personal charisma, they help ensure that UNESCO’s message is heard worldwide." Jean, without a doubt, is known for her intelligence, compassion and commitment, thus proving an ideal fit for the role.
Speculation continues about who will replace Jean, but no matter who is chosen, they will have big shoes to fill. As Jean takes on a new, prestigious role, she continues to bring international recognition and achieve success for both herself and Canada.