B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon made Chemainus Elementary Community School stop No. 141 on her tour of 150 schools for Canada’s sesquicentennial celebration.
Staff and students at the school were pleased to hear of their unique distinction during Guichon’s visit last Wednesday.
“This is the first school I’ve visited in this brand new school year,” she pointed out.
Guichon has not only been marking Canada’s 150th birthday with the tour, but also spreading the word about her role. She’s been speaking to students about Canada’s constitutional monarchy in an effort to encourage participation in our democracy and to share ideas about a healthy and sustainable future for all.
“What a great opportunity for the children to learn about the role of the Lt.-Gov.,” said Chemainus Elementary principal Brenda Stevenson.
She presented Guichon with a bouquet of flowers, a special offering from the garden and one of the school’s shirts.
“It’s been a wonderful venture,” Guichon said of the tour.
She had already been to Chemainus in the summer with some Australian visitors and was happy to return to provide insight into the history of Canada for the young students.
There are so many things that connect us, she said, like the maple leaf flag, the Terry Fox Run and, of course, hockey.
“These are the common threads that weave the fabric of our nation.”
Guichon added Canada is “a nation I’d like to say born mainly of conversation rather than confrontation.”
We’ve had our historical conflicts, she conceded, but we’re mainly a nation that talks.
“We’ve made some grave errors and injustices, but we’re working at reconciliation and it’s a great year for reconciliation, too.”
Unbeknownst to even some of the adults gathered in the gymnasium for Guichon’s visit, the current Canadian flag just turned 52 years old, flown for the first time on Parliament Hill on Feb. 15, 1965.
Guichon is the 29th Lieutenant Governor of B.C., having succeeded Stephen Point and Iona Campagnolo before that. One student correctly identified that ‘The Queen’, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is indeed her boss.
“I’m sort of like a substitute,” she explained. “Her Majesty lives a long way away.”
Guichon explained her duties include: representing the Crown at state and ceremonial events, perpetuating the traditional bond with First Nations and a constitutional role within the Legislature which was recently enacted during the NDP and Green Party coalition.
“It’s the responsibility of the Lt. Gov. to make sure there’s always a government in place,” Guichon added.
Other functions are to summon, prorogue, dissolve the Legislature, deliver the speech from the throne and provide royal ascent to legislation.
The ceremonial part of her job, entertaining visitors to Government House, is one Guichon enjoys the most.
“My job is to tell them all about British Columbia, what we produce, what we’re famous for and our arts and culture,” she related.
Presenting medals, honours and awards of distinction also come under her jurisdiction.
“Many people don’t know a lot about the role of the Lt. Gov. which is one of the reasons I decided to visit schools during the sesquicentennnial,” Guichon indicated.
“At the end of the year, I’ll probably be finished because it’s a five-year appointment,” she explained.
After presenting the school with a selection of books for the library, Guichon received her gifts in return and then listened to a performance by a group of students that competed in the CBC Music Challenge last year.