Reflecting on a legacy: Adrienne Clarkson

In the decades since she arrived in Canada in 1941 as a refugee from Japan-occupied Hong Kong, Adrienne Clakrson has led an extensively influential and important life. She is perhaps most known as a former Governor General of Canada, but within that role and outside of it, Clarkson has brought forth a number of influential initiatives promoting the values of education, freedom and equality.

Take Thirty & The fifth estate

After growing up in Ottawa, thriving in scholarly work, and achieving a Master’s in English Literature, Clarkson first came into the public eye in 1965, taking up the hosting role of CBC’s Take Thirty news program. At just 26 years of age, she became also the first person of a racialized minority group to headline a national programme for the CBC.

This career in journalism would continue beyond Take Thirty, however, and lead into her perhaps best-known journalistic career piece, as co-host of CBC’s widely renowned investigative journalism program, The fifth estate. During her time with the program, she played a leading role in uncovering numerous objectionable political and economic practices in Canada. This included various investigations into the finances of the McCain family, owners of major Canadian food business McCain Foods, as well as discovering corruption and financial scandals during the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.

| Former Canadian Governor General Adrienne Clarkson.

In the early 1980’s, Clarkson stepped back from television and was appointed to become the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, serving as a diplomatic figure for the Ontario government in France and encouraging trade and closer business relationships between the two governments.

Shortly after her tenure, Clarkson returned to the CBC, developing and producing Adrienne Clarkson Presents, an 11-year-long general entertainment program that shined a spotlight on various figures in Canadian arts, culture and comedy. She continued as a lead producer in the role, all the way up until her appointment to the role of Governor General in 1999.

Governor General & Legacy

Drawing on her experience in diplomatic and governmental affairs in Ontario, as well as her journalistic background, Clarkson was named the 26th Governor General of Canada under the Jean Chrétien government in 1999, serving in that position up until 2005.

She served as the first racialized minority and the first refugee to hold the position, and during her tenure promoted various aims and initiatives in Canada, including Canadian arts and culture, and promoting education and other aims in Northern Canada.

After leaving the position, she co-founded the Institute for Canadian Citizenship which aims to assist new arrivals in Canada to more easily access various aspects of Canadian culture and society, including its National Parks and museums, in addition to carrying out various other initiatives promoting inclusion within Canada.

Since her time as Governor General, she has also authored various widely read and acclaimed books. These include Heart Matters, an autobiographical memoir, Norman Bethune, a biography about the titular and influential Canadian surgeon, and two books focussed on highlighting the diversity of the Canadian immigrant experience and the need for acceptance, Room for All of Us, and Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship.

While there are many other roles and initiatives Clarkson has held and led throughout her career in politics, journalism and philanthropy, such a fact speaks only to the breadth of experience and commitment to Canada Clarkson has held throughout her career, and her life.

Source: The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarksonw

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