From Refugee to Governor General

Adrienne Clarkson

Arriving on a Red Cross ship with her family after Hong Kong was occupied by Japanese forces during World War II, Adrienne Clarkson has never forgotten the shelter she received in Canada. Clarkson has had a distinguished career in television with the CBC. In 1965 she was the first visible minority to host a national TV show, Take Thirty, and was a founding host of the network’s flagship newsmagazine show, The Fifth Estate.

Taking a break from journalism in the 1980s, the bilingual, Sorbonne educated Clarkson became the Agent-General for Ontario in France but eventually returned to the CBC as the executive producer and host of Adrienne Clarkson Presents, an award-winning arts and culture program. In 2005, Clarkson was named Governor General of Canada, the second woman and first visible minority appointed to this honour.

As Governor General, Clarkson actively supported the military, brought attention to Canada’s North and Indigenous communities and was a staunch advocate of Canada’s arts and culture. After her tenure at Rideau Hall, Clarkson co-founded, with husband John Ralston Saul, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship which promotes the participation of new Canadians in all aspects of our cultural and political lives.