50th Anniversary of World Environment Day Commemorative Tree Planting Ceremony

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  • You are cordially invited to special tree planting ceremony by the University of Saskatchewan collaborating with the Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas on World Environment Day (W.E.D.), June 5, 2022 Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.

    This ceremony echoes a tree planting ceremony 40 years ago to the day of the last tree planted by the Richard St. Barbe Baker in union with the University of Saskatchewan on World Environment Day (W.E.D.), June 5, 1982 near the Diefenbaker Centre. This collaboration between the U of S and Richard St. Barbe Baker on his visit here from New Zealand, honoured him as a former graduate (1913), and recipient of an honorary doctorate in 1971. This tree was the last tree this extraordinary champion of trees and forests planted as he died in Saskatoon four days later. In 2014, the Meewasin Valley Authority placed a marker on the MVA trail near the tree he planted.

    As you may know, Baker’s extensive archives were donated to the U of S and are the fourth most requested repository.

    At this ceremony dignitaries in Saskatoon will be in attendance for this ceremonial tree planting on the University of Saskatchewan campus in honour of Richard St. Barbe Baker and the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day on June 5, 2022. This occasion would again raise awareness of the environment and the importance of tree planting as part of addressing climate change. St. Barbe Baker is often spoken of as a visionary ahead of his time, having raised the issue of deforestation and climate change in 1922, and then campaigning for the rest of his life for forest protection and large scale tree planting. It was for this life-long pursuit that he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the U of S.

    Baker has other connections to Saskatoon; he was one of the first 100 students at the U of S, and initiated former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker there. A large afforestation area (132 ha) in Saskatoon was named after Baker by Saskatoon City Council in 1979. The Friends of the Saskatoon Afforestation Areas is a non-profit community organization that works with the City and Meewasin to protect and enhance this area.

    Our goal is to have a ceremonial tree planting event that marks W.E.D and honours Baker’s legacy, in that 2022 is also the centenary of the International Tree Foundation (ITF) started by St. Barbe Baker in Kenya, known then as the Men of the Trees. The ITF is also planning celebrations that we can link with and we would aim to have the media cover the event.

    We include a few tributes to Richard St Barbe Baker, including one by former president, J.W.T. Spinks.

    Thank you for your consideration in attending this public event and letting others know of the commemoration. It is truly appreciated.

    “The simple act of planting a tree, which is in itself a practical deed, is also the symbol of a far reaching ideal, which is creative in the realm of the Spirit, and in turn reacts upon society, encouraging all to work for the future well being of humanity rather than for immediate gain. Richard St. Barbe Baker.
    Richard St. Barbe Baker Commemorative Signage at the Meeewasin Trail near the Diefenbaker Center on the University of Saskatchewan campus, City of Saskatoon


    J.W.T. Spinks, Past President of the University of Saskatchewan, spoke about Richard St. Barbe Baker at his funeral.

    “My first close contact with St. Barbe Baker came… when the University bestowed on him the Honorary Degree of LL.D. St. Barbe Baker was proud of his long connection with the University of Saskatchewan going back over seventy years, and renewed from time to time particularly over the last dozen years.

    My last contact with St. Barbe Baker was last Saturday when Mary and I were privileged to attend a tree planting ceremony on the river bank, just west of the Diefenbaker Centre, a most beautiful spot with a most beautiful view. It was most moving to see and hear St. Barbe Baker talking to the children present at the tree planting, taking their hands in his hands, and repeating with them the motto:

    ‘From our hearts

    With our Hands

    For the Earth

    All the World Together.’

    The original thoughts and life-long actions of St. Barbe Baker and his dedication to the trees of the world will have made broader and broader impact on the peoples of the world. What greater memorial could the Man of the Trees wish or ask for?”

    London Times obituary

    “Baker deserves to be remembered as one of the very first men to realise that we were destroying the natural resources of the world faster than was prudent; and that trees were not only providers of timber, pulp and fuel, but were also manufacturers of life-giving oxygen from the waste products of man, and his machines, and …even more importantly, inducers of rain when assed in sufficient numbers.”

    Jane Goodall, Founder Jane Goodall Institute and Roots & Shoots

    “Why have we not heard of this extraordinary Man of the Trees, Richard St Barbe Baker? He was without doubt, one of the greatest advocates for the protection and restoration of forests ever. I am amazed by his life and accomplishments. He is one of my heroes.”

    HRH The Prince of Wales

    St Barbe, as his friends called him, was a true pioneer. Long before the science of climate change was understood, he had warned of the impact of forest loss on climate. He raised the alarm and prescribed a solution….Behind St Barbe Baker’s prescience was his deep spiritual conviction about the unity of life. He had listened intently to the Indigenous people with whom he worked and seen a similar sensibility in the then new sciences of ecology and silviculture.”

    Celebrate 50 years! Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional park were planted to trees in 1972, 50 years ago. Come out and say Happy Birthday!
    50th anniversary of World Environment Day, 50th Birthday for Richard St. Barbe Baker Afforestation Area and George Genereux Urban Regional Park in Saskatoon

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