Upon taking office in June of 2015, Lt.-Gov. Janice C. Filmon set out to find a new, sustainable way of recognizing outstanding Manitobans who have made notable contributions positively impacting the overall quality of life in the province. Her belief that a beautiful, hardy, long-living tree would be an ideal way to celebrate these individuals was the genesis of The Lieutenant Governor’s Tree Project.
Unlike a traditional medal or gift, Lt.-Gov. Filmon believes that planting a tree is a meaningful way to recognize and honour award winners and volunteers, while at the same time providing communities with a living legacy.
Jeffries Nurseries of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba developed the tree over two decades, combining the hardiness of western maples with the bright red foliage of maples in eastern Canada. The leaves are similar to that which graces the Canadian flag, so Manitobans and Canadians alike will proudly identify with its beauty and grace. In recognition of this unique breed and Lt.-Gov. Filmon’s passion and commitment to sharing it throughout the province, this variety of maple will be known as the Regal Celebration.
On May 12th, 2016, Manitoba Day, Lt.-Gov. Filmon planted the very first Regal Celebration maple on the grounds of Government House.
In October 2016, Her Honour gifted a tree to the Governor General on behalf of the people of Manitoba. When members of 17 Wing Winnipeg heard of her intention, they offered to transport the tree to Ottawa on board a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-130 Hercules aircraft from 17 Wing’s 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron, in conjunction with a pre-planned training exercise. That tree stands proudly on the grounds of Rideau Hall.
The Lieutenant Governor’s vision for this initiative really took flight in early 2017, when it was announced that the project would receive partial funding from the Government of Canada through a Canada 150 grant. She set a goal to have 150 trees planted throughout the province to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation. The engagement of the forestry departments of the City of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba, the University of Manitoba and others was immediate and enthusiastic. To date, there are commitments to plant more than 250 trees this year alone.
Lt.-Gov. Filmon will continue to honour outstanding Manitobans with the planting of a tree and will endeavor to share these beautiful symbols of hope with as many communities as possible throughout her time as lieutenant-governor. Trees will also be planted to mark visits from dignitaries and royalty, as well as other special events. In addition, The Lieutenant Governor’s Tree Project provides a wonderful opportunity for Her Honour to connect with elementary schools throughout Manitoba to educate and promote not only our environmental responsibility, but also to instill great pride in nurturing and sharing this beautiful addition to our national family.
For generations to come, Canadians young and old will sit in the shade of these glorious trees and together celebrate this great nation we call home.