Michaelle Jean

Born:September 6, 1957 (age 66)
Career:Secretary General of La Francophonie, 2015 - 2019
Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, 2011 - 2014
UNESCO Special Envoy, 2010 - 2011
Governor general of Canada, 2005-2010

Michaëlle Jean served as the 27th governor general of Canada from September 2005 to October 2010. Jean was Canada's first governor general of Caribbean origin and the third woman to serve in this position. From January 2015 - 2019 she assumed office as the secretary-general of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, the first woman to hold that position.

Jean was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She immigrated to Canada with her family in 1968, fleeing the dictatorial regime of the time. After earning a Bachelor of Arts in Italian and Hispanic languages and literature at the University of Montréal, she pursued her master's studies in comparative literature and taught at the university's Faculty of Italian Studies. Three scholarships allowed her to pursue her studies at the University of Perugia, the University of Florence and the Catholic University of Milan. She is fluent in five languages: French, English, Italian, Spanish and Creole.

During her studies, Jean worked for eight years with Quebec shelters for battered women, while actively contributing to the establishment of a network of emergency shelters throughout Quebec and elsewhere in Canada. She later ventured into journalism and became a highly regarded journalist and anchor of information programs at Radio-Canada and CBC Newsworld. She also took part in documentary films produced by her husband, filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond, all of which earned awards both in Canada and internationally.

Jean has won numerous awards, including the Prix Mireille-Lanctôt for a report on spousal violence; the Prix Anik for best information reporting in Canada for her investigation of the power of money in Haitian society; and the inaugural Amnesty International Canada Journalism Award. She has also been named to the Ordre des Chevaliers de La Pléiade, by the Assemblée internationale des parlementaires de langue française, and has been made an honorary citizen by the City of Montréal and the Ministère de l’Immigration et des relations avec les citoyens du Québec, in recognition of her accomplishments in communications.

Sworn in on September 27, 2005, Jean carried out the duties of Canada's head of state. As governor general of Canada, she advocated for dialogue between citizens and government.

During her service as governor general, Jean was awarded honorary degrees from the following universities: University of Ottawa (2006), University of Foreigners of Perugia in Italy (2006), McGill University (2006), York University (2007), University of Manitoba (2007), University of Alberta (2008), Université de Moncton (2009), Université Laval (2009), Royal Military College of Canada (2010), and Université de Montréal (2010). She was also presented the 2009 United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Canada Award for her outstanding manner in advancing gender equality.

In 2009, she received the Board of Governors Recognition Achievement Award from the National Quality Institute for her contribution to the quality of life of Canadians and humanity.


The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica (2009, Oct. 28). “Michaëlle Jean” Britannica. Retrieved December 2, 2022. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Michaelle-Jean

Michaëlle, J. (n.d.). “Biography” Michaëlle Jean. Retrieved December 2, 2022. https://www.michaellejean.ca/detailed-biography