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New Canadian citizen hopes to inspire with leafy legacy

New trees symbolize appreciation for MRU In the morning of May 21, Marco López, communications and design assistant with the Office of International Education, planted a red rocket maple tree at Mount Royal University’s East Gate entrance. In the afternoon, he became a Canadian citizen.

López, who has been a permanent Canadian resident since 2008, says that, “ trees are not only beautiful, but are beings that will probably be here longer than us.”

“So the idea is to leave something that will continue on longer than your life span.”
 

 Marco inside
In the morning of May 21, Marco López, communications and design assistant with the Office of International Education, planted a red rocket maple tree at Mount Royal University’s East Gate entrance. In the afternoon, he became a Canadian citizen.
— Photo by, Michelle Bodnar



López has always commemorated important life events by planting a tree, and becoming a Canadian citizen is perhaps the most significant. It was an emotional day for him, he says, and he is immensely proud to have reached his long-term goal.

“I love Canada and my experience working with MRU has been outstanding,” he says.

Initially introduced to Canadian nature in Mexico, López is from the city of Morelia (about four hours from Mexico City). It is where 60 million to one billion Monarch butterflies arrive from eastern Canada in the fall after crossing the United States to bunker down for the winter. These colourful international visitors encouraged López’s interest in discovering the world outside of Mexico, and Mount Royal’s Office of International Education is the perfect fit for him. He recently returned to his own alma mater – the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education – as a representative from MRU encouraging students to come and experience the school’s educational offerings.

“We have a really, really good international office,” he says. “We have lots of partnerships and what I love is the direction from everyone coming from everywhere.”

The Red Rocket maple is actually not the first tree (or even the second) that López has introduced to the campus. He has already donated a blue spruce and another maple, and his citizenship tree was placed adjacent to the original two.

It all started when López was looking for a fun and fulfilling activity to carry out with a group of Venezuelan students, and thought of planting a tree. The students each donated a small amount of money for two trees, and two more International Education employees also donated two trees each.

“I think you can never have enough trees,” says López . “My idea is that with me doing this, then maybe other people will celebrate milestones by planting trees.”

The campus’ green canopy took a major hit in September of 2014, when a freak late summer snowfall dumped more than 10 cm on the city, resulting in the immediate loss of 54 trees. Since then over 20 more have been removed.

Those wanting to help replace the trees – or celebrate or commemorate an event - can do so through Mount Royal’s Campus Enhancement Program, or by contacting Facilities Management at 403.440.6423.

For the next little while, López hopes to travel. Each newly minted Canadian citizen receives a Cultural Access Pass allowing admission to more than 1,000 of Canada’s museums, parks and attractions. López plans to make good use of his, saying he is set to explore more of what Calgary and Alberta has to offer as soon as he can.

June 2, 2015 — Michelle Bodnar