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‘Royal’ visitor makes whirlwind stop here


Lt.-Gov. Hilary M. Weston made a whirlwind visit to Fort Frances last Thursday, the second-last stop on her tour of Northern Ontario.

Joined by her husband, Galen, and daughter, Alannah, Lt.-Gov. Weston visited a day care centre at Couchiching, listened to drums at the United Native Friendship Centre here, and toured the rehabilitation department at La Verendrye hospital.

She then was guest of honour at a dinner reception at La Place Rendez-Vous, where Lt.-Gov. Weston chatted with about 40 community members about the three causes she intends to champion most--Ontario’s youth, women, and volunteers.

"I think that the young people today are facing challenges that we’ve never had to face," she admitted.

Sworn in as the province’s 40th Lieutenant-Governor on Jan. 24, Lt.-Gov. Weston said her role as the queen’s representative gives her a chance to visit many high schools.

While there, she invites 12-14 young people to talk with her privately, which allows her to discover their needs and try to focus on approaches that would be most helpful to them.

She said finding a job was the biggest concern facing most young people today.

"They obviously feel though they may work hard at school and then they go to university, their future seems cloudy," she explained.

And she admitted being the mother of two helped with her efforts.

"I think there’s a universality about young people today, wherever they are," she added.

Lt.-Gov. Weston established The Hilary M. Weston Foundation for Youth shortly after being sworn in, and is donating her salary to it over the course of her term. She intends to develop a concept for the foundation which will impact the lives of the young people it serves.

Despite being only the second woman to be named to the position, and the first mother, Lt.-Gov. Weston didn’t see herself as a role model for other women. But she admitted it was interesting to find herself in a position usually associated with men.

And she said she even finds humour in it because often when her husband is with her and people are told the Lieutenant-Governor is appearing, they will immediately rush to him.

"So you know, those are the little things that amuse me. The preconceptions about it, obviously to people who don’t know," she laughed.

Born Hilary Frayne in Dublin, Ireland, Weston was the eldest of five children. She married Canadian entrepreneur Galen Weston in 1966. Prior to her appointment as Lieutenant-Governor, she was the deputy chair of Holt Renfrew for 10 years.

She resigned her position there, along with her other commercial activities and board positions, to devote herself full-time to the role as Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor.

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