Promoting Peace Through Service in Vancouver

Chris Offer addresses the peace forum in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada.

Chris Offer addresses the peace forum in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

By Chris Offer, past governor of District 5040 and a member of the Rotary Club of Ladner

On 23 February, I had the pleasure of chairing a Rotary Peace Forum in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. This forum and other ones, a response to RI President Sukuji Tanaka’s challenge for districts to hold their own peace forums, allow Rotarians to discuss and debate regional peace issues. Local forums permit Rotarians who cannot attend one of the three Rotary Global Peace Forums to explore new opportunities and bring life to our theme, Peace Through Service.

We chose to discuss juvenile bullying and gang violence as local issues, and polio eradication, the reconstruction of Afghanistan, support for the Rotary Peace Centers, and the role of Rotary as peacemaker for our international issues for our forum in Vancouver.

We were privileged to begin with a presentation by Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation, Julian Fantino. Through Canada’s Pennies and More for Polio initiative, The Canadian International Development Agency and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are each contributing C$1 for every dollar raised by Canadian Rotarians through March. Fantino announced the great news that both the Canadian Government and the Gates Foundation have agreed to extend the match beyond the initial limit of $1 million. So far through the end of February, $2 million has been raised by Rotarians, with the resulting $6 million all going to help polio eradication. The Government of Canada has now funded in excess of $390 million for polio eradication!!

During a panel discussion on juvenile bullying, the chair of the Vancouver school board, a psychologist, an Interactor, and a former superintendent of schools serving as moderator explored the advantages and disadvantaged of allowing anonymous reporting of bullying. Allowing it may generate more reports and stop bullying, but it could also result in frivolous or false reports. Another roundtable agreed that encouraging participating in Rotary’s new generation programs is a fantastic way to combat bullying.

A police chief encouraged Rotarians to join other members of the community in taking a stand against gang violence. Targetting known offenders with the help of community support has been effective in reducing violence.

RI Director Bryn Styles described Rotary’s role as a peace maker in the world, while past Director Paul Netzel talked about the growing global reputation of Rotary’s Peace Centers and the importance of fundraising. Bob Scott, chair of Rotary’s International PolioPlus Committee, also discussed the role of polio eradication in peace. Even  though we sometimes use words associated with war to describe our campaign – fighting, attacking, battling, or even combatting polio – in reality polio eradication promotes peace.

The forum concluded with delegates unanimously endorsing a Declaration of Peace.

The success of our forum will certainly not be measured in one day. It will have to be gauged in the weeks and months to follow. If Rotary clubs take on new service projects focused on peace locally and internationally, our forum will have been a success.

2 thoughts on “Promoting Peace Through Service in Vancouver

  1. Pingback: Promoting Peace Through Service in Vancouver | Warsaw Rotary , Club 3393, District 6540

  2. Dear PDG Chris Offer, It is heartening to note the proceedings of the Peace Forum chaired by you at Vancouver which concluded with a well drafted Declaration of Peace.
    While it sounds very good, I wonder what would be the fate of these Peace Forums post June 2013 when the new RI Theme for 2013-14 would get implemented with fill force.
    Today, I have posted following comment (in this website) on President Tanaka’s article posted on 18th Feb about his visit to Oklahoma. I would be thankful for your observations about it:
    QUOTE
    Honorable President Tanaka-san, Your reflection about 168 victims of bombings is very touching.
    It is believed that as long as the mankind lives, there would be conflicts. Majority of people like to be away from conflicts and live, instead, peacefully with their loved ones. As such Peace is something that is going to be an everlasting requirement.
    The Rotary World is already humming with the new theme for 2013-14. The new theme by itself is good but there is no word about its connectivity with the theme of 2012-13. It leaves me wondering if, come 1st July 2013, we would stop pursuing ‘Peace through Service’.
    You may not like to comment on it as a gentleman& to maintain the protocol well established over decades. But it is high time that the Rotary leadership reflects seriously about creating new theme, logo and what have you every year. In today’s world, cost cutting and austerity have become order of the day for sheer survival. Under these circumstances, Rotary spending huge resources and efforts to promote a theme having shelf life of barely 12 months is untenable. Same resources could be better utilized towards promoting any one of the avenues of service.
    UNQUOTE

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s