When is a tree more than just a tree? For the Highway of Heroes (HOH) Tree Campaign, the answer is when it honours Canada’s fallen heroes. The Campaign will be planting two million trees between Trenton and Toronto, Ontario – one tree for every Canadian that has served during times of conflict since Confederation. Of those, 117,000 will be planted along the stretch of the 401 known as the Highway of Heroes, representing a unique and powerful way to tell the story of those who’ve served and to remind highway travellers of the great debt owed to these courageous Canadians.
In line with that mission, on November 2, the HOH Campaign planted 300 trees with the help of uniformed officers from the Canadian Armed Forces and local volunteers at Intrepid Park in Whitby— the former site of Camp X, the legendary secret paramilitary training installation for covert agents during the second world war.
“As we approach Remembrance Week, there is no more fitting time for us to be planting trees to honour the service and sacrifice of the brave Canadians that have fought for our freedom,” said gardening guru Mark Cullen, chair and co-founder of the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign. “To be able to do this at a site with such remarkable connections to the military history of our country is a rare opportunity. We’re incredibly grateful for our sponsors and supporters that have made this possible.”
Some of the volunteers at the auspicious event were Aeroplan employees, part of their larger commitment to HOH and its efforts. Over the summer, Aeroplan donated 500,000 miles towards the Campaign and their partner Avis matched with another 500,000 miles. What’s more, Aeroplan asked their Members to donate too and they came through in a big way. In fact, thanks to member donations and matching by Aeroplan and Avis, over 1.4 million miles were donated to HOH.
“We are proud to once again partner with Avis to support the Highway of Heroes Tribute Project,” said Jennifer Jones, vice president of travel, retail and strategic development at Aeroplan. “We had many employees come out today to help plant trees and earlier this year, we asked Aeroplan Members to join us in supporting this worthy cause and they came through,” she added, explaining that donated miles will be used to bring the loved ones of fallen heroes to events like these, helping to honour them.
The recent event was a real success, helping to establish a living memorial to honor those who sacrificed their lives while serving their country. Cullen opened the tree planting ceremony by recognizing Frank Cowan Company, Aeroplan, Avis and the Town of Whitby for their amazing support. The event also featured remarks from Larry Ryan, President of Frank Cowan Company, Leslie Lorette, Regional Manager, Global Partnerships & Travel, from Avis and local dignitaries, including MP Celina Caesar-Chavannes, MPP Lorne Coe, Mayor of Whitby Don Mitchell and Durham Regional Chair Elect, John Henry. Attendees were invited to tour the grounds after the ceremony and learn more about the historic Camp X.
The Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign is supported by the Government of Ontario, Mark’s Choice, Landscape Ontario, TD Bank, Frank Cowan Company, Tree Canada, Every Tree Counts (a partnership between Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation and the City of Toronto), Rotary District 7070, Maple Leaves Forever, and the Garden Club of Toronto
If you’re an Aeroplan member and want to support the HOH Campaign and help Canadians honour their loved ones at these events, you can donate your Miles here