This September 26th is National Tree Day and it will be a particularly special one for me and for Canada. This year will be the first National Tree Day without Royal Galipeau, the Member of Parliament who founded the day. Back in 2010, the former M.P. for Ottawa-Orléans presented a private member’s motion and together, we thought up the idea of declaring a “National Tree Day” to serve as a celebration for all Canadians to appreciate the great benefits that trees provide us. After much work, on March 2, 2011, the House of Commons passed Motion 575 to declare the Wednesday of National Forest Week as National Tree Day. On that day, there were only three dissenting votes to the motion – all of whom who ended up either being defeated in the next election or retiring from politics. Royal would humorously allude to this in subsequent speeches, stating, “The lesson in this my friends,” he would begin, “is to never vote against the trees!”.
Royal, my friend and fellow “tree-hugger”, passed away on January 27 of this year at the age of 71. His love of trees came from his youth in eastern Ontario, where, by his reckoning, he planted 52, 000 trees on various properties and an additional 23,000 with his family.
His love of the Jewish people came from a friend, Carl Rosen (no relation), whom he greatly respected. Given Royal’s quick mind and propensity for learning, he acquired many Yiddish expressions, and adopted many Jewish holidays and other aspects of Jewish culture. He used the number “18” (the spiritual number in Judaism) on his license plate and phone numbers among other things. I last saw Royal on January 5th, his 71st birthday, at the Ottawa Hospital where he was being treated for cancer. It was far from a joyous occasion, but I do remember him grabbing my arm and saying, “Michael, it’s 2018 you know…2018!”.
This year, being that special year, we are inviting you to join us as we celebrate National Tree Day. We will be greening communities across our nation and invite you to be a part of it as we plant trees with our partners in Montreal, QC, St. John’s, NL, Markham, ON, Winnipeg, MB and Coquitlam, BC. Each of the five sites has been carefully selected to provide ecological benefits to the community and allows for easy access for residents to get in there and get their hands dirty!
This September 26th join us to celebrate trees, celebrate Royal Galipeau’s legacy and celebrate National Tree Day!
Michael Rosen, R.P.F.
President, Tree Canada