Since the 1800s, successive Lieutenant Governors have served as honorary patron of many organizations covering nearly every field of human endeavour from arts to history, from the Scouts to veterans’ groups, from mental health awareness to STEM education.
The Lieutenant Governor plays an important role in promoting a strong and positive civic community in Ontario. One way of doing so is by granting viceregal patronage to associations and organizations that have championed diversity, inclusion, culture, and knowledge.
Over the past five years, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell has granted patronage to 47 organizations and eight initiatives, lending them support and recognition.
The Toronto Artscape Foundation is one such organization, and works to increase the public’s understanding of arts and culture through its support of community arts programs and creative placemaking. Artscape is known for its thriving studios and artist residencies at sites like the Wychwood Barns in Toronto.
In late 2018, the Lieutenant Governor attended the opening of the Artscape Daniels Launchpad, a 30,000-square-foot art and design hub that offers multidisciplinary creative production studios, programs, and mentorship. Located on Toronto’s waterfront, the cutting-edge centre connects creative people to a supportive ecosystem where they can collaborate, experiment, learn, and enhance their artistic and economic potential. The centre is just one of 15 similar cultural facilities where people can come together to immerse themselves in the arts.
During the opening, Her Honour addressed the crowd of over one hundred young creatives and artists from the GTA on the importance of sustainability and social cohesion in their work and in the space provided by Artscape, saying:
“I firmly believe that artistic expression is essential to building the type of society that can help us through these strange and uncertain times. Amid rapid and often disorienting change, we must strive for resilience. We must work together to integrate inclusive prosperity, environmental stewardship, and social and cultural cohesion.”
Pathways to Education Canada is a charitable organization that passionately believes in the strength and potential of young people and the communities that stand behind them. Its innovative program creates positive social change by helping youth from low-income communities overcome barriers to education, graduate from high school, and build the foundation for a promising future. The organization aims for impact, whether in the life of one student, the strength of one community, or the health of the whole country. Pathways’ goal is to ensure that, one day, every young person in Canada can proudly graduate from high school and embark on a post-secondary education.
As a pillar of sustainability, inclusive economic prosperity is achieved through education and opportunity. When addressing the 2016 Pathways to Education program graduates, Her Honour acknowledged this and said:
“I am so proud to be your honorary patron, and I am heartened to see that, just as you have encouraged students to aim high, you have also set a very worthy goal for all Canadians in making ours a ‘Graduation Nation’. With this class of graduates, we’re now a little bit closer to making this a reality.”
Born out of a series of multidisciplinary roundtables hosted by the Lieutenant Governor, Greatness: The Great Lakes Projectcelebrates the iconic Great Lakes as a central part of our identity in Ontario. Through history, art, culture, and recreation, the initiative encourages protection of the Lakes and promotes the potential of the many communities located in the watershed. Greatness offers creative programs like Great Art for Great Lakes and appoints Great Lakes Ambassadors to share local stories and expand the Greatness network. Our Great Lakes communities are embracing the importance of place, cherishing our history, and making meaningful contributions to our future prosperity.
The themes of this initiative are closely connected to Her Honour’s mandate of sustainability and demonstrate the deep connection Ontarians have to the Great Lakes and their commitment to environmental stewardship. This bold, aspirational initiative focuses on values and identity. It is intended to amplify the essential human need to connect with something bigger than ourselves, to encourage a deep emotional and spiritual commitment in people.
At the launch of the initiative in 2016, Her Honour shared these words:
“It is an effort to connect us to the epic and extraordinary: five Great Lakes and their rivers and streams that are the heart and arteries of a third of our continent. The project promises to launch a new era for the Great Lakes, and the people who live in the watershed: a future where their epic majesty is a source of pride for all of us, and a future where we celebrate and sustain them for all who follow.”
After listening to Ontarians, I made it my aim to shine a light on two major themes, the first being sustainability and its three pillars (inclusive prosperity, environmental stewardship, and social cohesion) and the second theme being Ontario in the world: engaging with people and places beyond our borders is both an opportunity and an obligation. We have just as much to learn as we do to contribute. Underpinning these themes is the constant requirement to nurture our precious democracy.
The many organizations that I have granted patronage to during my term, have given life to these ideas, working across virtually every field of human endeavour. Together, they mobilize thousands of dedicated volunteers in all corners of our province, and on countless occasions I have had the good fortune of meeting the many behind-the-scenes and on-the-ground faces of these organizations.
It is rewarding to connect the dots between people and organizations who, without even knowing it, are working towards a common goal. The Office of the Lieutenant Governor incubated Greatness: The Great Lakes Project. We brought together organizations like the Aga Khan Museum and Learning for a Sustainable Future, which resulted in the creation of the Our Sustainable Future photography exhibition and workshops. By sharing the platform of the office with such worthy partners it has allowed me to further important causes.
The efforts of the dozens of organizations and initiatives of which I have had the privilege of being honorary patron are absolutely crucial as we look to address the challenges of building a more sustainable and resilient world. One that is able to share prosperity fairly. One in which our ecosystems thrive under our mutual care. One where people feel included and not left out, able to make a positive difference in their own lives and in those of their friends and family. I encourage you to learn more about these organization and their work here.
I offer my deep thanks to the volunteers and staff of these organizations who together provide such important services and opportunities for the people of this province.Stories of Sustainability