2019 was quite the year here at Tree Canada! As we head into 2020, a new year and a new decade, we know the time and need for trees is more apparent now than ever. As we take stock to reflect on some of the accomplishments we achieved – because of your continued and dedicated support – we are excited by what the future holds.
Uniting for the common good, the past year brought a record number of sponsors looking to work side-by-side to put trees in the ground. We are so proud to report over 150 sponsors who share our mission to bolster Canada’s urban forest and inspire others to do the same.
Some of our sponsors also celebrated significant milestones last year. CN celebrated its 100th anniversary and we partnered with them for their CN100 ─ A Moving Celebration. Over 1,800 trees were planted in eight communities across Canada contributing to their urban canopy. By providing at least 100 trees to each community, these legacy forests will be remembered as a symbol not only of CN’s history in Canada, but the importance of trees for everyone in the community.
The year also brought new leadership to the organization. Léo Duguay was appointed as new Chair of the Board. Having served as Vice-Chair of the Board for the past three years and having joined in October 2011, Mr. Duguay’s tenure as Chair will help guide the organization into its next 5-year strategic plan. I was also excited to join the team to continue to build and grow on its solid foundation.
Our changing climate couldn’t be ignored last year, with many cities and communities across the country declaring climate emergencies and many concerned citizens participating in climate strikes. Last fall Hurricane Dorian brought devastation to communities across Atlantic Canada. In response we launched #Operation ReLeaf Hurricane Dorian to aid those communities impacted with fundraising efforts still ongoing. We also continued to assist those affected by fire in British Columbia and Fort McMurray, tornadoes in our own backyard of Ottawa-Gatineau and those communities affected by emerald ash borer.
Tree Canada also committed to supporting the City of Winnipeg’s Million Tree Challenge thanks to the generous contributions of CN, Telpay, and individual donors from across the country. The Challenge will ensure the growth and protection of the city’s urban forest for generations to come.
We presented awards to deserving organizations. The Eterne Award, Tree Canada’s highest honour was presented to Siemens Canada. Given to those organizations who support Tree Canada and exemplify the best in environmental stewardship, Siemens has been a partner since 2012 and has planted over 12,400 trees across the country. We awarded IKEA Canada with the Ultimate Award, given to those who have committed to our cause and provided over $1 million in funding since our creation. A partner since 1996, Tree Canada and IKEA Canada have planted over 55,000 urban trees as part of their employee engagement program, over 18,700 seedlings in rural areas and created two outdoor classrooms.
On September 25, we celebrated National Tree Day from coast to coast from dawn to dusk. with tree planting festivities and events across Canada. With schools and a record number of tree-loving volunteers getting involved, over 2,000 trees were planted that day!
We continued to bring urban forestry professionals together over the course of the year facilitating four Canadian Urban Forest Network workshops in BC, the Prairies, Atlantic and Ontario, as well as spoke on climate change and forests, our growing support of urban forestry in indigenous communities and on the reduction of thermal heat islands on school grounds.
And lastly, just in time for the holidays, we re-launched our Tuques for Trees campaign and are thankful for all those generous donors who believed that staying warm can help the climate at the same time.
Going into 2020, the Tree Canada team is proud to be part of such an important cause and like never before our work will continue with a sense of deep-rooted purpose, as we feel the urgency to help our planet and bring the forest of benefits that trees provide us to every Canadian. We can’t say thank you enough to you, our loyal supporters, for your continued devotion to our work. Together we truly are growing better places to live across the country, one tree at a time.