Merritt-area rancher Judith Guichon, hailed for her introduction and support of environmentally friendly ranching methods, was installed Friday as the new lieutenant governor, succeeding Steven Point, who held the post for five years.
Montreal-born Guichon, 65, said she will honour the province's agricultural roots, saying she believes a more civil society grows from healthy soil.
"Our children need to understand the great resources we have under our feet and the importance of protecting them so that we can continue to, as ranchers say, turn sunshine into high-quality protein," she said during a ceremony at the B.C. legislature.
Guichon said ranchers and First Nations people are intimately tied to the land, but one of her goals as lieutenant governor is to shed light on the many services land provides in B.C., besides food.
"As generations become further removed from an agrarian lifestyle, and as we lose community, I fear that civil society becomes less civil," she said. "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."
Guichon said B.C.'s history is tied to pioneers who came to the province seeking instant wealth, but stayed because they developed ties to the land.
"Many of the first ranchers, such as the Guichon family, came to British Columbia 150 years ago chasing their dreams of gold," she said. "As I tell the students who visit the ranch, they came for the gold, but then stayed for the grass."
Besides running the Gerard Guichon Ranch Limited, Guichon has worked with the Fraser Basin Council of B.C., the Grasslands Conservation Council of B.C. and recently completed a two-year term as president of the British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association.
Guichon, who has four children, recently served on the provincial task force on species at risk and has been part of the Ranching Task Force for B.C. and the B.C. Agri-Food Trade Advisory Council.
Guichon and her late husband, Lawrence, who was killed in a motorcycle accident near the family ranch, are credited with introducing holistic management ranching to the B.C. cattle industry.
The practice involves managing livestock and ranchland in more sustainable ways.
Guichon has also taken on several volunteer roles in Merritt, where she started a recycling society, served on the hospital board, community health council and 4-H Club.
She also plays flute with the Nicola Valley Community Band.
"Mrs. Guichon has dedicated herself to her community, province and country," Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement released last month when he announced her appointment. "She is a leader in keeping British Columbia’s agriculture and cattle industries environmentally sound and she has worked hard to promote and protect the ranchers of British Columbia."
Premier Christy Clark said Guichon is a role model for environmentally minded British Columbians.
"She will keep us connected to our roots, but she also has a passion for looking forward to the future."