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Realtor Feenstra promotes Dutch tulips as new symbol of friendship

Canada-wide initiative

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

OAKVILLE, Ontario – Say it with flowers. Realtor Case Feenstra wants to say it with lots of tulips throughout Canada at any or all of the thousands of war memorials as a symbol of enduring gratitude and friendship. Feenstra envisions 11,000 fellow realtors nationally selling bags of tulips in support of his Shelter Blooms concept. Royal Lepage Shelter Foundation set up a volunteer committee to help promote the campaign.

A flower conscious 1970s Dutch immigrant, Feenstra liked the gesture by Princess Juliana who in the Fall of 1945 donated tulip bulbs to the City of Ottawa, in recognition for its war-time hospitality to her and her family. The annual donation some years later gave rise to the Canadian Tulip Festival, now a huge May event.

Sixty years later, this Spring, the first 150,000 red Royal Lepage Shelter Foundation tulips enhance gardens in many places. The firm’s realtors are encouraged to use the tulips as a Thank You-gift for new listings, referrals, closings or open houses, display them at events such as Fall fairs, or make them part of presentations to affiliated service companies.

Feenstra cherishes the thought that these tulips from the Netherlands – a Dutch grower named a variety after the Royal Lepage Shelter Foundation already – somehow could be used to add spring colour to Canadian war memorials of which there are thousands across the country. Children from area schools ought to be involved in the planting of the tulips and in caring for the memorials, he feels, so youths connect with the country’s history.

The Royal Lepage Shelter Foundation of which Feenstra is a director, since 1998 has contributed over $4 million to some 150 women’s shelters across the country and for violence prevention and awareness. The latter is done through the Fourth R program, a school-based initiative for confronting dating violence, substance abuse, and risky sexual practices.

Ultimately, Feenstra hopes that the Shelter Blooms tulip campaigns will become as much a part of the Canadian experience as do the daffodils for the Canadian Cancer Society, an initiative which had its very humble beginnings in Toronto in 1956 when its raised $1,200 in the first year.

The Royal Lepage Shelter Blooms initiative has joined the Canada Netherlands Friendship Day as a platinum sponsor this year, and along with other community minded entrepreneurs will be on hand on April 29 to meet the public at the Royal Botanical Gardens.