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Where the Queen or sovereign is the head of state in a country, the Governor-General (G-G) of that country represents the sovereign, and most of the powers and authority of the sovereign are delegated to the Governor General. The role of the Governor General is mostly symbolic and ceremonial. The G-G is NOT the head of the Government. The Head of the Government is the Prime Minister. In most Commonwealth Countries, the G-G serves for FIVE YEARS, sometimes extended to seven years for specific reasons. There are some tradition of alternating between genders and ethnic groups.

Some of the duties of the G-G are to: formally summons, prorogues, and dissolves Parliament, gives assent to bills, and exercises other executive functions. After a general election, the G-G calls on the leader of the party winning the most seats to become Prime Minister and to form a government.

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Mrs. Froyla T'zalam is now the third Governor General of Belize and the first indigenous woman to hold the post in the Commonwealth. The San Pedro Town Council congratulates you Mrs. T'zalam!

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Belize's Third GG Makes Head-Of-State History

Belize has a new Governor-General.

She's Ms. Froyla Tzalam of the Toledo district, an educator and advocate who has become the first indigenous woman to be named Governor-General in any commonwealth country.

Her appointment has been in the works for over a month now, ever since Sir Colville young, demitted office at the end of April.

With approval from the Palace in the UK, the transition was completed this morning with a ceremonial passing of the flag, as Tzalam took up the post of Head of State and the most senior diplomat in the country, Governor-General of Belize. Cherisse Halsall reports:

Belize's Froyla Tzalam is a Mopan Maya leader, gender equality activist, researcher, and educator.

And today with all the requisite pomp and ceremony, she was installed as Belize's 3rd Governor General.

It was an historic installation all around with the first indigenous G.G. in the Commonwealth, sworn in by a Garifuna woman, Chief Justice Michelle Arana, and supported by Ensign Melissa Jones of the Belize Coast Guard, who becomes the first female aide de camp to be assigned to a G.G.

This singular appointment was spearheaded by Prime Minister John Briceno's Cabinet after an ageing Sir Collville Young stepped down from the post.

Today the PM praised her elevation as yet another move in leadership for Belize.

Hon. John Briceno - Prime Minister of Belize
"For the first time in almost 40 years of independence a Mayan, Belizean woman from the south, actually from San Antonio Toledo, is the representative of our head of state. This in and of itself is historic not only for Belize but for our region, I am now told throughout the Commonwealth. I am sure that this makes all Belizeans very proud."

Especially proud though are Mayan Belizeans those who got to hear the governor General's opening remarks in their own native language.

H.E. Froyla Tzlam - Governor General of Belize
"(Speaking Mayan) I am honoured to stand before you today as a Belizean Mopan woman and to express my deep ---and gratitude for this recognition I am very aware of the responsibility that comes from holding this office and I will do my work as I have done elsewhere with passion and commitment to do good to the best of my ability. For us in Belize we're beginning to understand that there is more than one way to live. More than one way to talk, more than one way to see reality, as someone who has been vocal and passionate about our culture and history and looking at how society is organized the office of governor general can provide a platform for unifying our diverse voices. I will do my part to empower Belize at all levels from the individual to the national. Many roots people and others have expressed their pride and happiness in seeing someone like them reflected in the highest office in Belize. All children can now aspire to be a Governor General, no matter their background."

Unlimited dreams in an unlimited vision of Belize but not without a nod to tradition and to the past.

Hon. John Briceno
"You have to pass on the torch and tonight the torch was passed on to a new governor general, Governor General Froyla Tzlam, a woman of distinction, a woman who has served this country exemplarily, highly educated but more than highly educated she has been a woman of the soil, a maya woman, a Mopan maya woman who's very proud of her heritage. And we believe that she is going to do a wonderful job in representing all Belizeans. We always claim that Belize is a melting pot of so many different ethnicities and our G.G. now exemplifies what is the true Belizean-ness and we are very happy, we're very excited, and we wish her all the best and as a government we want to be able to commit ourselves to be able to cooperate with her to the best of our abilities."

Now it's left to be seen if this indigenous woman GG will be a state figurehead, or if she will use her high office and her high profile as an indigenous woman to transform a traditionally very staid post into something that helps uplift her people - from centuries of oppression brought on by the same monarchy she now represents - a rare opportunity to turn history on its head.

Notably, the Prime Minister would only consent to speak on one issue, which is the GG's appointment.

Tzalam's appointment is also being applauded by many of the organizations that she has served in.

First, the Toledo Maya Council called the appointment the recognition of Ms. Tzalam's decades of research, advocacy, and leadership in promoting the historical and cultural contributions of Indigenous and traditional peoples to our national patrimony, history -- and most importantly, to our future.

She was also praised by SATIIM, where she was the Executive Director. They say that Tzlam's installation quote: "brings them full circle." with this high recognition of a Mopan Maya woman's knowledge, skills, and experience. End quote

The G.G. also received praise from APAMO, the Association for the management of protected areas, they called their former chairlady's appointment "distinguished and unprecedented, expressing their confidence that Her Excellency Froyla T'zalam's long-established career, education, skills, and accomplishments have prepared her to fully execute this noble position."

Channel 7

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An intimate look of the personality now officially known as Belize's 3rd Governor General, a woman of Maya descent, Mrs. Froyla Tzalam

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BHA: You know how fond we are of Chef Sean Kuylen, and we take joy in sharing this culinary journey - preparing a traditional Maya feast for the installation of Belize's Governor General Her Excellency Froyla Tza'lam. Journey with Sean and his team as he embarks on a 7 day adventure to source the unique ingredients used in this indigenous creation. It's so much fun to watch the unique essence of Mayan traditions being captured.

Installation of the Governor General of Belize
A Short documentary on the historic Installation of Belize's Governor General Her Excellency Froyla Tza'lam

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