Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean has been appointed UNESCO's special envoy in Haiti and will take up her new post once her term as Canada's governor general ends in September, she confirmed Tuesday.
"It is with great passion, conviction and enthusiasm that I have agreed to take on this important mission," Jean wrote on her blog.
Her main task will be to support efforts to rebuild Haiti’s heritage infrastructure and national education system, she wrote.
The appointment drew praise from the highest ranks of Canadian politics.
"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," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, who worked closely with Jean after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, commended Jean for her work as commander-in-chief of the Canadian Forces and praised her for her commitment to Haiti.
"I saw the passion that she has for the cause," Cannon said in French during a news conference in Ottawa.
Jean was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, but left with her family in 1968, at the age of 11, to settle in Quebec.
She made a high-profile but emotional visit to Haiti after the quake, touring construction projects and visiting survivors.
"I want the Haitian people to know: You are not alone," Jean said during the tour, which took her through Port-au-Prince and the colourful port city of Jacmel, where Canadian soldiers were helping with reconstruction efforts.
She said people around the world, particularly in Canada, will continue to care about Haiti as it struggles to rebuild.
Jean worked as a journalist before succeeding Adrienne Clarkson as governor general in September 2005.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded in 1945, and Canada became a member in 1946.
It protects heritage sites of cultural significance around the world and works on peace-building, poverty eradication and sustainable development through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.