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This article was published 14/7/2010 (3383 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
MANITOBA'S chief protocol officer said Jonathan Toews was not fast-tracked past fallen soldiers when the province decided to honour him with his own lake.
"The process for naming a lake after Jonathan is completely separate from the process used when a soldier is killed in Afghanistan," Dwight MacAulay said Wednesday in an interview.
The honour the province bestowed on Toews, to mark both his Stanley Cup victory and the gold medal with Team Canada at the Vancouver Olympics, has sparked controversy.
Among those complaining that the honour was undeserved was a mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan.
"While it is commendable that Jonathan Toews has accomplished so much in his short life thus far, I feel it is a travesty he has had a lake named after him," said Shirley Seggie. "Our son Cpl. Michael James Alexander Seggie was killed in action in 2008... thus far there has been no lake named after him despite a program that is in place to name lakes after military personnel killed in action."
The program Seggie mentions is Manitoba's own Commemorative Names Project, a program solely dedicated to naming geographic features after fallen soldiers. As it turns out, Seggie's son will be one of the five soldiers the province will honour this November.
"Every Manitoban soldier who is killed in battle is automatically nominated for a geographic fixture," said MacAulay. "But under a national policy there is a mandated three-year wait period before we can go about naming."
The Geographical Names Board of Canada, the federal organization in charge of naming policies and practices, could not be reached to explain why there is a waiting period and how exactly it works.
MacAulay said that despite the mandated three-year wait, the province doesn't necessarily go by the book.
Of the five soldiers being honoured this November, one was killed in 2007, two in 2008, and two in 2009.
"Around this year's Remembrance Day we are honouring Cpl. Michael Seggie, Pte. Lane Watkins, Trooper Corey Joseph Hayes, Sapper Sean Greenfield, and Cpl. Jim Hayward Arnal," said MacAulay.
"We wanted it to be an appropriate time of the year."
MacAulay said he didn't exactly know why the national policy asks provinces to wait three years, but he said he had a hunch.
"There can be horrific grief after the tragedy, that a lot of us can't even comprehend," he said. "Although everyone deals with their grief differently, I think it was to give people a respectful length of time to heal to commemorate them."
And it's not as if Toews' lake is another slice of Manitoba's landscape being offered to the highest bidder.
The last time the province bestowed this honour was in 2002 when Queen Elizabeth was allowed to name some of Manitoba's prairie landscape after her grandchildren as part of her golden jubilee tour.
The backlash against Toews' lake dedication is now being countered by Winnipeggers who say his honour was well-deserved.
"It's really disheartening to read all of the negativity surrounding Jonathan Toews and the honours that have been recently bestowed upon him," wrote Michael Epp in a letter to the Free Press.
"Finally a feel-good story that is good for the city and the province comes out and people are so quick to bash it."
Said another reader in an online comment: "I work with youth, and I feel that a little recognition for someone who has worked hard and had that hard work pay off can go a long way.
"Mr. Toews is an advocate of hard work... and an excellent local role model."