(By: Alina Bykova)
Justin Trudeau, the eldest son of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, became Canada’s 23rd prime minister on Wednesday morning.
From the very start, it was clear that the ceremony, and the younger Trudeau’s style of governance would be drastically different from what Canada has experienced before.
Just before 10 a.m., Trudeau and the 30 ministers-designate arrived on foot at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
They had traveled together by bus instead of coming in individual cars.
Theland Kicknosway, a 12-year-old Cree drummer led the way into the ballroom, where the Secretary to the Governor General Stephen Wallace acknowledged that the ceremony was being performed on traditional Algonquin land.
Following Trudeau’s pledge for gender parity in the new cabinet, there was an equal number of male and female ministers sworn in.
Some notable faces were Maryam Monsef, the first Afghan-born MP in Canada, who became the minister of democratic institutions, Harjit Sajjan, a Sikh-Canadian who served three separate tours in Afghanistan and was an officer in the Vancouver Police Department for a decade, who became the minister of national defense, and Hunter Tootoo, an Inuit MP from Nunavut who became the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
Tootoo was one of two Indigenous MPs to join the new cabinet.
Jody Wilson-Raybould, the MP for Vancouver Granville and a member of the We Wai Kai First Nation became the first Indigenous MP to be appointed minister of justice and attorney general of Canada. She is also a former Regional Chief of the British Columbia Assembly of First Nations.
The swearing-in ceremony was concluded by Samantha Metcalfe and Cailyn Degranpre, two young Inuit throat singers, and a Métis jig by Hunter, Riley and Jacob McKenzie.
Apart from ensuring gender equality and Indigenous representation in his cabinet, Trudeau also made some symbolic changes to several ministers’ titles.
Carolyn Bennett became the minister of Indigenous and northern affairs, formerly called Aboriginal and northern affairs. Catherine McKenna became the minister of environment and climate change, the last two words being a new addition to the title, and John McCallum became the minister of immigration, citizenship and refugees.
The changes suggest the new prime minister’s dedication to addressing the pressing issues of Indigenous relations, climate change and the refugee crisis, all of which were mentioned during his election campaign.
Trudeau’s answer to one reporter’s question definitely stole the show on Wednesday.
When asked why his cabinet was equally balanced between men and women, the new prime minister smiled and said “Because it’s 2015.”
In his first statement as Canada’s new prime minister, Trudeau beamed and said, “It’s an incredible pleasure for me to be before you today…to present a cabinet that looks like Canada.”
Trudeau hopes to recall the cabinet in early December.
In the meantime he will attend several important international meetings in Turkey, the Philippines, Malta and Paris later this month to take his new place on the world stage.