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Judith Guichon sworn in as B.C.'s new lieutenant-governor.

Nov 03 2012
Judith Guichon, the second female lieutenant-governor of B.C., conducts her first inspection of the guard of honour in front of the legislature Friday. 

Judith Guichon, the second female lieutenant-governor of B.C., conducts her first inspection of the guard of honour in front of the legislature Friday.

Photograph by: LYLE STAFFORD , TIMES COLONIST

Nicola Valley rancher Judith Guichon promised Friday to bring passion for the land to her new job as B.C.’s 29th lieutenant-governor.

During a swearing-in ceremony at the legislature, Guichon said she hopes to shine a light on the important role that ranchers, farmers and other stewards of the land play across the province.

She said the family of her late husband, Lawrence Guichon, came to B.C. 150 years ago chasing dreams of gold.

“As I tell the students who visit the ranch: ‘They came for the gold, but they stayed for the grass.’ It is this great legacy ... that I hope to highlight during my tenure.

“I guess you could say that I hope to serve beef as the next course at Government House,” she said, eliciting laughter from a packed house of MLAs.

Only the second woman ever to hold the post, Guichon replaces Steven Point as Queen Elizabeth’s representative in B.C.

Point, one of the few aboriginal judges in Canada, was preceded by the first female lieutenant-governor, Iona Campagnolo.

Guichon, 65, vowed to carry on the work of those two “innovators and trail blazers” by developing youth and literacy, and by supporting aboriginal reconciliation. “But I will also focus my attention on our land.”

Guichon, who owned and operated the Gerard Guichon Ranch Limited, said she fears society will become less civil as generations become further removed from an agrarian lifestyle.

“It is at our peril that the great cities of the world forget that civilization relies on the health of the soils upon which it rests,” she said. 

“Our children need to understand the great resources we have under our feet, and the importance of protecting them. ... By keeping our natural environment — grasslands, forest, and the soil itself — intact, stewards of the land provide services and benefits far beyond the simple production of food.”

Premier Christy Clark praised Guichon’s commitment to sustainable ranching and agricultural practices, saying she is a role model for environmentally-minded British Columbians.

“The Honorable Judy Guichon will bring a fresh new perspective, a spirit of collaboration, perhaps even a little mischief to the role of lieutenant-governor,” Clark said. “I have absolutely no doubt that she will make every British Columbian deeply proud.”

Born in Montreal, Guichon grew up on a farm in Hawkesbury, Ont. and moved to B.C. in 1972.

A former president of the B.C. Cattlemen’s Association, she is married to Bruno Mailloux, an invasive plant specialist.

Guichon’s four sons now manage 1,400 head of cattle on the family ranch in the Nicola Valley near Merritt.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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