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This article was published 26/11/2018 (666 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It took more than a year, but Gov. Gen. Julie Payette can finally check off Manitoba on her list of provinces to visit.
Payette, who was appointed to the position by the Liberal government in October 2017, launched her two-day trip by being greeted with cannons, a military band and salute, and the smiles of school children during a stop at the Legislature.
Traditionally, governors general visit all the provinces and territories in their first year and Payette has come under criticism for taking so long to get to Manitoba, the last province to host her.
With a huge smile on her face, Payette told a group of students from Fort Rouge and Balmoral Schools that "I'm sure it was hard missing school."
Payette then shook every student's hand and hugged at least one.
Arin Tas, an 11-year-old student at Fort Rouge School, said she was thrilled to be part of a group of Grade 5 and 6 students who met Payette.
"It is pretty interesting — I never actually met anyone like that," Tas said.
Even better for Tas, Payette spoke Russian to her.
"She said 'Hi,' and she asked how did I know Russian and I said my mother is from Russia."
School principal Stacie Edgar said the students will always remember meeting Payette.
"They are very honoured, excited, and interested," Edgar said.
"Our children come from all over the world. There are probably children from seven different countries here."
Later, during a brief press scrum, Payette said her first visit to Manitoba took so long to organize because of scheduling problems including the prolonged playoff run by the Winnipeg Jets earlier this year.
"The planets are finally aligned," the former astronaut and scientist said.
Vaughan Mitchell, the province's acting chief of protocol, later said "there has been a longstanding effort to get her here before now.
"It started earlier this year and it has been her office reaching out to us."
Meanwhile, Payette said she was particularly looking forward to walking with the Bear Clan Patrol in the North End on Monday evening.
"It is an urban initiative that makes a difference in the city and that we need to continue and to shine a light on it," she said. "That's part of our role as governor general: to showcase what happens on the ground by real people and where they live."
Earlier, Payette arrived at the Legislature while the smoke was still clearing from a 21-gun salute, courtesy of the 38 Artillery Tactical Group.
"Hello," Payette said as she walked into the front reception area and quickly shook Lt. Gov. Janice Filmon's hand while saying with a smile "long time no see."
Payette then turned to Premier Brian Pallister and said "nice to meet you" before greeting other special guests and inspecting troops from 17 Wing Winnipeg after the Air Force band played the Royal Salute.
Later, after meeting with Pallister, she said she had presented him with a photo taken from space of Manitoba.
"I hope he shares it with you," she said.
"It is not only a friendly province but a beautiful province."
Payette said she only has time for Winnipeg this trip, but she wants to visit northern Manitoba during her next trip.
Payette also spent her day touring the Universite de Saint-Boniface, Fort Gibraltar, and the University of Manitoba before heading to an official reception in the evening hosted by the Lieutenant-Governor.
David Barnard, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba, was at the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals to greet Payette before she was whisked away on a brief tour of the facility and several ongoing research projects by students and professors.
The projects included whether almonds benefit gut health, whether coconuts and Queen Garnet plums can help maintain healthy aging, and whether the Hemp protein can reduce high blood pressure.
PhD student Maryam Samsamikor said she has put the hemp protein into smoothies which some of the participants in her research study drink before having their blood pressure taken at regular intervals. Other participants drink the smoothies without the protein.
"We tried to make the recipe as yummy as possible," Samsamikor said, noting her research won't be complete until sometime next year.
Michael Janzen, the facility's research development manager, said the hope for the hemp protein research, if proven to reduce high blood pressure, is "someone would take this instead of a pharmaceutical drug."
Later, as Payette left, she called the research facility "very forward looking.
"They are working on functional food, food that will help us eat more healthily. In the future, as our population grows, it will be even more important."
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Monday, November 26, 2018 at 1:02 PM CST: fixes typo
3:38 PM: fixes typo
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