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Governor-General's next role will be special envoy for UN

Governor General Michaelle Jean shares a laugh with Mexican President Felipe Calderon at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on May 27, 2010.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Governor-General Michaëlle Jean will take on a new job at the United Nations once her term ends in September.

She will take an appointment as the special envoy for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a high-profile role that will extend her humanitarian efforts.

Her main goal will be to fight poverty and boost literacy rates in her home country of Haiti, where she will travel frequently. She will also aim to raise international funds for the nation, which was all but shattered by an earthquake in January.

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In a statement issued Tuesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he welcomed the appointment.

"As UNESCO Special Envoy to Haiti, Michaëlle Jean will draw upon her unique experience and dedication to Haiti, as well as her commitment to educational and cultural initiatives," Mr. Harper said. "She will be in a position to further advance the international community's response to the urgent needs in Haiti as it recovers from January's devastating earthquake. The appointment is also a tribute to Canada's leadership role in rebuilding Haiti."

As she serves the last stretch of her term as Governor-General, speculation had been swirling about what Ms. Jean's next move might be and who might replace her.

A former journalist, Ms. Jean has been a strong advocate for human rights in her current role as the Queen's representative in Canada.

She has also done significant work in support of Canada's aboriginal communities.

She has not been untouched by controversy or shied away from high-stakes moves. Ms. Jean blessed the Prime Minister's request to prorogue Parliament in the winter of 2008. She also ate a piece of seal heart last May in support of the Arctic hunt , much to the chagrin of animal rights activists.

In April, Ms. Jean travelled to Rwanda to commemorate the 1994 genocide.

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A statement on UNESCO's website says the organization's mission is to "contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information."

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