Michaëlle Jean was born on September 6, 1957, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She migrated to Canada with her family in 1968, making Quebec her new homeland. She attended the Université de Montréal, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in modern literature and languages. She was entrusted with teaching the Italian language for two years while she pursued her studies at the University of Perugia, the University of Florence, and the Catholic University of Milan. She is fluent in five languages: French, Haitian Creole, English, Italian, Spanish, and she can read Portuguese. 

In her 20s, over the course of 10 years, Michaëlle Jean was active within the Quebec women’s movement. She worked to help build a network of hundreds of emergency shelters for battered women and their children. The network spread throughout Quebec and into other Canadian provinces. 

Between 1988 and 2005, Michaëlle enjoyed an excellent career as a journalist, presenter, and news anchor on Canadian public television, on both French and English networks. Her journalism accomplishments earned her numerous awards, such as the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie, which highlighted her outstanding merit by naming her to the Ordre des Chevaliers de La Pléiade. 

(Citation—Michaëlle Jean — Michaëlle Jean (michaellejean.ca))

The Governor General Years 

On September 27, 2005, Michaëlle Jean was sworn in as the 27th Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada for a five-year mandate. When the mandate ended on October 1, 2010, the United Nations called on her to become a UNESCO Special Envoy to support reconstruction efforts in Haiti after the devastation of a powerful earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands and wounded many. 

From 2011 to 2014, Michaëlle served as Chancellor of the University of Ottawa. On November 30, 2014, she became the 3rd Secretary General of La Francophonie at the 15th Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Dakar. She devoted herself to this position from January 5, 2015, to January 3, 2019. 

Michaëlle Jean is a gifted woman with the ability to convene everywhere in the multilateral sphere, in every UN forum, from New York to Geneva, all the way to the Security Council and within the European Union, the European Parliament, the OECD, and the African Union. Some of her strengths are persuading, mobilizing, educating, uniting, and eloquently testifying to the key issues and state of the world she has traveled; from one continent to another. 

Jean believes in the potency of fieldwork, making investments in human capital, in capacity and knowledge building, modernizing education, and vocational, technical, and technological training. She knows how to rally the youth with passion and gusto, inspiring and helping them to identify opportunities for cooperation, as well as how to create and diversify synergies. 

(Citation—Michaëlle Jean — Michaëlle Jean (michaellejean.ca)

Personal Life 

Michaëlle Jean is married to Jean-Daniel Lafond, a Canadian born in France. Together, they adopted Marie-Eden Lafond, who was born in 1999 in Haiti. Michaëlle’s husband is a filmmaker and writer. Michaëlle took part in “A State of Blackness: Aimé Césaire’s Way,” “Tropic North,” “Haiti in All Our Dreams,” “Last Call for Cuba,” and “A Woman of Purpose.” All of these are documentary films produced by her husband.

Since 2010, they have founded and chaired the “Michaëlle Jean Foundation.” The foundation’s programs support art and culture, civic initiatives, and some of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised yet eager and creative young people in Canada.

A woman of action and vision, Michaëlle Jean has demonstrated a fearless commitment to promoting peace, including countering terrorism, radicalization, and extremism. Humanistic values, courage, tenacity, along with indomitable optimism and creativity, are hallmarks of her character.

(Citation—Michaëlle Jean — Michaëlle Jean (michaellejean.ca) / Jean Daniel Lafond – Alchetron, The Free Social Encyclopedia)

Awards and Titles

Michaëlle Jean holds the following titles:

  • Member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada (C.P.)
  • Companion of the Order of Canada (C.C.)
  • Commander of the Order of Military Merit (C.M.M.)
  • Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (C.O.M.)
  • Canadian Forces Decoration (C.D.).
  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal

To see more of Michaëlle’s Awards (Titles and Awards — Michaëlle Jean (michaellejean.ca))