Victoria Kiwanis Highlights from Vancouver Convention

This year marked the first time an International Convention had been held in western Canada.  Lt. Governor Ron George, Past President Harold Blenman, and I attended the convention on behalf of Victoria Kiwanis.

At the convention, our club was recognized for being a Model Club in support of the worldwide project to eliminate maternal/neonatal tetanus.  We are saving the lives of tens of thousands of women and children through our fundraising efforts for this global Kiwanis campaign, and we can be proud of that.  On the Friday morning of Convention, I participated in a fundraising walk for the Eliminate Project, along with hundreds of other Kiwanians, and it was the most beautiful morning we had all week.

The leadership luncheon featured BC paralympian Rick Hansen who spoke movingly (and often humorously) about his Man in Motion tour and his thoughts on leadership qualities, and his foundation to assist people with disabilities.  This man travelled tens of thousands of miles around the world by wheelchair, raising funds for research and raising awareness of accessibility issues for people with disabilities -- as well as awareness that people who are disabled can still achieve great things.  He was a very inspiring speaker.

More than 500 Pacific Northwest Kiwanians attended the convention in support of my candidacy for International Trustee (out of about 4,000 total attendees worldwide), and hundreds helped hand out campaign literature.  My decisive win was thanks to the dedicated efforts of many, but I would like to especially thank the Kiwanis Club of Victoria for its support, including financial assistance.  This is only the second time in 98 years that a British Columbian has been elected to the Kiwanis International Board.  The only other British Columbian to serve on the International Board was Jack Delf of Vancouver (1974-78).  As Trustee, I will spend three years counseling three districts per year, participating on international committees, and deliberating on issues facing the organization as a member of the International Board.

The House of Delegates also saw the election to Vice President of Sue Petrisin of Michigan, the first woman ever to serve in that position - a truly historic moment.  She will become president in 2015, the year of our organization's centennial.  At the Convention, Tom DeJulio of New York gave his farewell as 2012/13 International President and Gunter Gasser of Austria was elected as our 2013/14 President.

The closing session featured Sarah McLachlan, who received a world service medal.  Sarah got her start by winning 1st place at a Kiwanis music festival in Nova Scotia.  Her world service medal was primarily for her music education foundation which targets at risk youth.  She has also held many charity concerts, including headlining Lilith Fair, which raised over $10M for women's charities.  She has spoken on behalf of animals through the SPCA.  She sang two beautiful songs: World on Fire, about making the world better, and Angel, a song she had used to promote the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).  

My only regret from when I was Lt. Governor in 2000/01 was that I did not go to the International Convention in Taipei. I heard so many stories about that convention, and how amazing it was. Next year's international convention will be in Japan, for the first time ever, so this too will be a unique experience unlike any convention before it. As first time attendee Harold Blenman told our club yesterday, "If you ever get a chance to go to an International Convention, grab it with both hands and Don't. Let. Go." Start thinking about how you can make it work to go to Japan, so you can be the one telling the stories rather than just hearing them.

-- Patrick Ewing, International Trustee and proud member of the Kiwanis Club of Victoria