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Bringing people together

The Lieutenant Governor plays an important role in promoting awareness and action related to reconciliation with Indigenous people, fostering a sense of identity among the people of Ontario, and encouraging Ontarians to take part in voluntary service and activities aimed at building more just and sustainable communities.

Reconciliation

The Lieutenant Governor respects Indigenous Peoples as the original inhabitants of Canada’s territory and honours the Crown’s foundational relationship with them.

In the aftermath of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, the Lieutenant Governor has stressed the importance of becoming engaged in the reconciliation process. To this end, Her Honour meets regularly with representatives of Indigenous communities, ensures Indigenous representation at events wherever possible, and takes efforts to create opportunities for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people to come together in dialogue.

In May 2016, on the occasion of the Government’s Statement of Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples before the Legislative Assembly, the Lieutenant Governor hosted a lunch for leaders of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities in Ontario, Indigenous elders, and survivors of the residential school system. At the time, Her Honour stated: “Let me say that, without hesitation, and within the bounds of my constitutional responsibilities, I intend to do all that I can to encourage a culture of reconciliation in Ontario.”

What is reconciliation?

For thousands of years, Indigenous people lived in diverse and autonomous civilizations with unique cultures and ways of life. After European settlers began arriving in North America, what began as a relationship between strangers turned to one defined by domination, erasure, and abuse.

The Royal Proclamation of 1763 sought to ensure that settlers dealt fairly with Indigenous people and respected their rights to unceded land. Over time, governments ignored the protections that had been afforded, often justifying their actions in the name of progress.

After Confederation in 1867, encroachments of Indigenous rights continued, most notably under the Indian Act, the reserve system, and residential schools. Centuries of colonialism and cultural assimilation continue to affect Indigenous people. Too many do not have a meaningful chance at success, have their stories excluded from the national narrative, and struggle with attaining the basic necessities of life.

Today, Canada is widely lauded for its commitment to multiculturalism, pluralism, and inclusion. It is a liberal democracy with strong traditions of governance and a thriving economy. Many around the world look to Canada as a role model and as a place where anyone who works hard enough can have a chance to be successful.

Reconciliation challenges us to reconcile these two competing truths about Canada.

Questions posed by reconciliation include:

  • How do we synthesize competing visions about the nature of society, governance, and identity?
  • How do we learn from each other and our diverse understandings and traditions?
  • How should all Canadians be made aware of the country’s mistreatment of Indigenous people?
  • How do we incorporate Indigenous voices and leadership into national discussions?
  • How do we ensure that the evils of colonialism are never repeated?
  • How can Indigenous people regain lost connections to families, cultures, languages, and lands?
  • How do Indigenous people cope with personal and intergenerational trauma?
  • How can indicators of wellbeing among Indigenous communities be identified and improved?

Supporting unity and identity

The Lieutenant Governor plays an important key role in promoting a uniquely Ontarian identity by supporting and promoting diversity, inclusion, culture, and heritage. Through an extensive program of engagements across Ontario, the Lieutenant Governor encourages Ontarians to work together to build more just and sustainable communities in which all have meaningful opportunities to contribute to society and to each other.

Encouraging worthy causes

The Lieutenant Governor regularly promotes active citizenship, often by meeting with volunteers and those engaged in public service throughout the province. Making use of her unique ability to convene people from all walks of life, the Lieutenant Governor encourages information sharing and partnerships in pursuit of social and technological innovation benefitting the public good.

The Lieutenant Governor plays a key role in supporting organizations making outstanding contributions to civil society. To this end, the Lieutenant Governor from time to time grants her viceregal patronage to community, charitable, military, and cultural associations, as well as public service organizations, lending them support and recognition.

Representing Ontarians

The Lieutenant Governor acts as a focus for unity and pride. The Lieutenant Governor represents all Ontarians when interacting with important visitors from outside Ontario and abroad.

Official visits to communities

The Lieutenant Governor conducts engagements in municipalities across Ontario. By visiting Ontarians in their own communities, the Lieutenant Governor is able to get a better sense of the varied aspirations and concerns of residents, while at the same time learning about local initiatives in which they take pride.

In addition, the Lieutenant Governor periodically conducts "official visits" to municipalities. Official visits involve courtesy calls with mayors and local representatives, and have frequently included roundtables with residents, members of civil society, and community groups on topics having to do with economic, environmental, and social sustainability. Official visits may entail a civic reception and take place in conjunction with significant local events.

Visits abroad

From time to time, the Lieutenant Governor may conduct working visits abroad with the aim of strengthening ties between Ontario and the receiving jurisdiction.

In recent years, Lieutenant Governors have conducted working visits to the United Kingdom, the United States, Mexico, and Jamaica.

Hosting visitors to Ontario

The Lieutenant Governor greets The Queen and receives members of the Royal Family on royal tours and during their stays in Ontario.

The Lieutenant Governor also welcomes world leaders and representatives of international institutions, acting as Ontario’s official host and providing opportunities to learn about and appreciate Canadians and Ontarians. The Lieutenant Governor customarily receives visiting High Commissioners and Ambassadors as well as newly arrived consuls general posted to Toronto.

Celebrations and commemorations

The Lieutenant Governor plays a pre-eminent role in the many diverse celebrations and commemorations taking place throughout the year in Ontario. By doing so, the Lieutenant Governor acts as a focus for unity and pride, and serves as a public leader during times good and bad.

Honouring service to the Crown

The Lieutenant Governor regularly promotes volunteer and public service in communities across Ontario, and maintains strong links with those who serve their neighbours, such as members of the Canadian Forces and civilian police, fire, and medical services.

Since 2011, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario has served ex officio as Colonel of the Regiment of The Queen’s York Rangers (1st American Regiment), a Primary Reserve unit in the Canadian Army. This honorary appointment recognizes the regiment’s link to Col. John Graves Simcoe, first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada (now Ontario), who commanded the regiment during the American War of Independence.

The Lieutenant Governor represents Ontarians at funerals and memorial services honouring fallen members of the military, first responders, and prominent civil servants and public figures. The Lieutenant Governor attends annual commemorative services on Remembrance Day as well as memorials to police officers and firefighters in Ontario.

Honouring Ontarians

As the Crown’s representative, the Lieutenant Governor recognizes Ontarians through the honours system. Honours and awards strengthen the fabric of Ontario’s communities and shape the aspirations of Ontarians, and are a way to formally and publicly acknowledge the excellence, achievements, and contributions of role models from all walks of life.

During presentation ceremonies throughout the year, the Lieutenant Governor takes great pride recognizing people who have made a difference to their communities.

National honours

The Lieutenant Governor may present national honours, including the Order of Canada, bravery decorations, the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers, and commemorative medals, on behalf of the Governor General.

Visit the Governor General’s website to learn more about the Canadian honours system or to nominate someone for a national honour.

Ontario honours and awards

The Government of Ontario has established several official honours and awards, which are conferred by the Lieutenant Governor on the Government’s formal advice. In all cases, members of the public submit nominations to an honours advisory council, which provides the Government with recommendations.

Learn more about honours and awards in Ontario, including how to nominate someone.

Order of Ontario

Order of Ontario insignia
Insignia of a Member of the Order of Ontario

The Order of Ontario is the province’s highest official honour. It recognizes any current or former long-time resident of Ontario who has demonstrated a high level of individual excellence and achievement in any field benefitting the people of the province or elsewhere. The Lieutenant Governor becomes a Member of the Order of Ontario upon taking office and serves as the order’s Chancellor while in office, presiding at the order’s annual investiture.

Ontario medals

The Lieutenant Governor presides at the annual presentation ceremonies of the following Ontario medals:

Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship
Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship
Ontario Medal for Police Bravery insignia
Ontario Medal for Police Bravery
Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery insignia
Ontario Medal for Firefighter Bravery
Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers insignia
Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers

Ontario awards

The Lieutenant Governor presides at the annual presentation ceremonies of the following awards:

Lieutenant Governor’s Awards

A number of independent organizations have created awards in partnership with successive Lieutenant Governors to recognize achievements in specific fields of endeavour.

Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Award

This awards program is currently under review.

The Hon. Hilary M. Weston established this award in 1998 to recognize Ontario volunteers for their outstanding contributions to their communities. The award honours volunteers who serve as the backbone of not-for-profit organizations and who have a direct impact on the people their organizations serve. The Lieutenant Governor personally presents this award during community visits throughout Ontario.

This distinction is awarded at the discretion of the Lieutenant Governor.

Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Award for Students

Established in 2000 by the Hon. Hilary M. Weston to encourage youth volunteerism, the Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Award for Students pays tribute to students who not only complete the required number of volunteer hours to graduate, but who go above and beyond. Each year, an award is given to one graduating student at each of Ontario’s secondary schools. Each student receives a personalized certificate and an award pin. This award is administered by the Ontario Honours and Awards Secretariat of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Design Excellence in Architecture

Since 2015, the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Design Excellence in Architecture is presented annually to recognize completed projects constructed in Ontario within the preceding five years. The winner is selected from among the finalists of the Ontario Association of Architects Design Excellence Awards, and is considered by an expert jury to have shown excellence in creativity, context, sustainability, good business, and legacy. The award is administered by the Ontario Association of Architects.

Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines

Aimed at promoting Ontario viticulture and winemaking, the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines was established in 2011. This awards program recognizes VQA Ontario wines (made from 100% Ontario-grown and processed grapes).

Since 2016, the Lieutenant Governor’s Award is part of the annual Ontario Wine Awards as a “top-tier” award, with the highest-scoring wines in each year’s varietal categories competing against each other. Between eight to 12 wines are selected for their overall excellence.

The awards are administered by the Ontario Wine Awards with the support of the Grape Growers of Ontario, the Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario, and the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario. Drawing upon its expertise, the Ontario Wine Awards selects the judging panel, which includes student judges from Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College.

Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Awards

In partnership with the Ontario Heritage Trust, the Hon. James Bartleman established these awards in 2007 to recognize outstanding volunteer contributions to the preservation of Ontario’s heritage. The Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Lifetime Achievement, awarded through a special category in the Trust’s Heritage Community Recognition Program, recognizes individuals who have made sustained volunteer contributions to preserving, protecting, and promoting community heritage over a period of 25 years or more. The Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Youth Achievement, awarded through the Trust’s annual Young Heritage Leaders program, recognizes the most exceptional youth group in each of the built, cultural and natural heritage nomination categories, and the most outstanding individual nominee across all categories.

Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Marketing Excellence in Ontario

The Economic Developers Council of Ontario recognizes achievements in municipal economic development marketing by presenting awards in the categories of business development, tourism, and product development. In 2006, the annual Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Marketing Excellence in Ontario was introduced to honour the single most outstanding achievement made by an award recipient in these categories.

Lieutenant Governor’s Cup

The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair introduced this Cup in 1953 with the approval of then Lieutenant Governor the Hon. Louis Orville Breithaupt. The Lieutenant Governor’s Cup is presented annually to a three-year-old Canadian-bred horse capable of becoming a “sport horse”, that is, a horse excelling in the hunter, jumper, dressage, or eventing disciplines. This competition showcases Canadian sport horse breeding, a field in which Canada has since emerged as a major player.

Vice-Regal Commendation

Approved by The Queen as part of the national honours system in 1999, the Vice-Regal Commendation is presented by the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governors for long-term or outstanding service to the office of The Queen’s representative.

The recipients have either served on staff (paid or volunteer) during an incumbent’s mandate in a commendable fashion, or the recipient has performed one or more outstanding acts as a member of the incumbent’s staff (paid or volunteer) that has benefited the office of The Queen’s representative or territorial commissioner.

Viceregal patronage

The Lieutenant Governor plays a key role in supporting outstanding contributions to civil society. To this end, the Lieutenant Governor from time to time grants viceregal patronage to organizations and initiatives, lending them vital support and recognition.

Ms. Dowdeswell has granted her patronage to the following organizations:

  • Aga Khan Museum
  • Air Cadet League of Canada (Ontario Provincial Committee)
  • Army Cadet League of Canada (Ontario)
  • Artscape Foundation
  • Canadian Centre for Ethics and Corporate Policy
  • Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons
  • Children’s International Learning Centre
  • CNIB (Ontario-Nunavut)
  • Commissionaires Great Lakes
  • Corporation of Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall
  • DAREarts
  • The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards (Ontario)
  • Friends of HMCS Haida
  • Haven Toronto (formerly The Good Neighbours’ Club)
  • Health Arts Society of Ontario
  • IISD Experimental Lakes Area
  • IODE (Ontario)
  • Last Post Fund (Ontario)
  • Learning for a Sustainable Future
  • Let’s Talk Science
  • The Lifesaving Society
  • Magna Carta Canada
  • Monarchist League of Canada
  • Mon Sheong Foundation
  • Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations
  • Ontario Society of Artists
  • Pathways to Education Canada
  • Provincial Council of Women of Ontario
  • Quarter Century Club
  • Royal Canadian Humane Association
  • Royal Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Science
  • Royal Canadian Legion (Ontario Command)
  • Royal Canadian Military Institute
  • Royal Canadian Sea Cadets/ Navy League Cadets
  • Royal Commonwealth Society
  • Royal Ontario Museum
  • Schizophrenia Society of Ontario
  • Scouts Canada
  • Toronto Children’s Chorus
  • Travellers’ Aid Society
  • Variety Village
  • Warriors’ Day Parade Council
  • Waterlution: A Water Learning Experience
  • Women’s Musical Club of Toronto

Ms. Dowdeswell has granted her patronage to the following special initiatives:

  • Wounded Warriors Canada Highway of Heroes Bike Ride (August 2016)
  • Greatness: The Great Lakes Project (launched in October 2016, ongoing)
  • The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next (October 2016)
  • Pollution Probe Gala (November 2016)
  • 104th Grey Cup Festival (November 2016)

How to apply for patronage

The principles against which applications for viceregal patronage will be assessed include the following:

  • Non-discrimination
  • Political neutrality
  • No active controversy
  • Valid corporate existence
  • Demonstrated record of activity
  • Financial stability and responsibility
  • Connection with Ontario
  • Alignment with the Lieute​​​nant Governor’s role, responsibilities, and areas of focus

Grants of patronage are at the discretion of the Lieutenant Governor and expire at the end of each Lieutenant Governor’s mandate, and organizations and initiatives must re-apply upon the appointment of a successor. Patronage does not guarantee the Lieutenant Governor’s participation in events being held by host organizations or initiatives.

If your organization would like to apply for the patronage of the Lieutenant Governor, please send a message:

Send a message to the Lieutenant Governor