Julie Payette, Engineer, Scientist and Astronaut, to Become Governor General of Canada

Public Domain. Julie Payette dressed for work

Because we all need role models and she is the living embodiment of the term.

Justin Trudeau may be Prime Minister of Canada and run the country, but under the parliamentary system the country inherited from Great Britain, the Queen is the head of state and the Governor General is her representative, her boots on the ground. And as of September, those boots will be filled by Julie Payette.

It’s an interesting choice when you consider that in the UK Conservative politicians say that “people in this country have had enough of experts.” In America, the President claims that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by greedy scientists. Joel Achenbach writes in National Geographic that “empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts.“

Julie Payette wanted to be an astronaut when there were no women in the corps, so she studied engineering and then got a Masters in computer engineering. She was one of four Canadian astronauts chosen among 5,330 applicants in 1992, and went into space twice.

Julie Payette in space

© NASA via Getty Images

Oh, she is also an accomplished musician who plays the piano and has sung with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra. She speaks six languages and is a terrific athlete, and has 27 honorary degrees. She has 1300 hours of flight time, has 311 hours in space and is a deep-sea diving suit operator. The list is endless.

Some said that it makes sense that an astronaut got the gig because Justin Trudeau is such a space cadet, but ignoring that, just about everyone thinks this was a very good choice. Even the opposition parties are supportive.

And why is this on TreeHugger? Because we need scientists as role models, we need to respect them and listen to them instead of criticizing them if we are going to deal with our climate and other environmental crises. She is the definition, embodiment of role model.