District Conference 2018 promises more than inspiring speakers

District conference Main


The District 5370 Conference will be more than just an opportunity to hear great speakers during plenary and breakout sessions.

The conference is also an opportunity to learn and connect with Rotarians from other clubs, October 18 to 20.

House of Friendship

Annie Muller (RC of Edmonton West) says that the House of Friendship, which will be set up in the foyer of Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre, between the registration desk and Hall D where main stage sessions will occur, will be “a place for Rotarians to meet.”

.In the centre of the House of Friendship, the MacEwan Rotaract club will erect a Shelterbox tent, as part of its efforts to raise funds to provide temporary shelter for families displaced by natural disasters or war.

There will be 12 additional displays highlighting programs supported by Rotary clubs and individual members, including Project Amigo, Literacy Without Borders, the Emmanuel Foundation, Inclusion Alberta, Well Spring Edmonton and others.

There will also be information about the 2019 District Conference, which will be held in Grande Prairie next fall, and an opportunity to purchase Rotary merchandise, such as clothing, pins and other items.

Annie says space in the House of Friendships was snapped up soon after it became available, earlier this year.

“The majority of displayers signed up quickly,” she says. “Every space was booked and paid for within about a month.”

Annie promises that the House of Friendship will be more than just displays.

“It will be a place for Rotarians to have a conversation, charge their phones and recharge themselves,” she says. “It’s a place where people can meet before or after sessions.”

Peace Dinner

An event being introduced at the conference for the first time is the Supporting Peace Through The Rotary Foundation Dinner, beginning at 5:30 on Thursday evening, October 18.

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Rotary Peace Fellow Stephanie Wollard will be featured speaker during the Supporting Peace Through The Rotary Foundation dinner on Thursday, October 18

There is a separate charge for this dinner, which is open to all Rotarians and guests, whether they are attending the conference or not. Tickets for the dinner cost $85.00, plus GST. Click here to purchase your tickets.The peace dinner is being held conjunction with the Paul Harris Society Dinner, which is traditionally held on the Thursday evening before the conference begins.

The featured speaker will be Stephanie Wollard, a Rotary Peace Fellow and a Rotarian from Australia. She is also speaking at the Conference on Saturday afternoon.

PHS Coordinator Carol Devereux (Rotary Club of Edmonton South) explains that the dinner, “is a way for society members to get together for fellowship and to be recognized for their ongoing contributions to the Foundation.”

The District 5370 Paul Harris Society consists of about 100 members, each of whom has committed to an annual donation of $US1,000 to TRF.

The introduction of a peace dinner fits with the District’s 2018-19 goal to become a Rotary Peacebuilder District.

Carol points to peace and conflict prevention/resolution as one of TRF’s areas of focus.

During 2017-18, Rotary International hosted six Peace Building Summits around the world, each of which focused on how one of the other areas of focus contributed to building more peaceful societies.

“A characteristic of a peaceful society is how it aligns with all the areas of focus for TRF,” Carol says.

“When clubs have projects related to any of these areas of focus, they are contributing to peace building,” she says. “If people are not struggling, they are less likely to be convinced to pick up a gun.”

The other areas of focus for TRF are disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development.

Governor’s Ball

The conference will wrap up Saturday evening with the Governor’s Ball, a celebration of Rotary including a great meal, followed by dancing to the music of an 18-piece orchestra.

The evening will have a 1920’s theme, which District Governor Ingrid Neitsch describes as “a shout out to the early glory years of Rotary, because it was in the 1920’s when things really got going.”

Your conference registration includes a ticket to the Governor’s Ball. Additional tickets are available for purchase for people who will not be attending the rest of the conference.

Rotarians Bernie Kreiner and Nicole Konkin serve as ShelterBox ambassadors in District 5370


ShelterBox tents were deployed following a typhoon which devastated parts of the Philippines in 2012

When disaster strikes anywhere in the world, Bernie Kreiner (RC of Hinton) is confident that help will soon be on its way from ShelterBox, a project partner in disaster relief with Rotary International.

Bernie and Nicole Konkin (RC of Edmonton) are ShelterBox Canada ambassadors in District 5370. In this role, they are responsible for “raising awareness and promoting ShelterBox Canada within the District,” Bernie says.

“We make presentations to Rotary clubs, at schools and to community groups,” Nicole says. “We take a kit with us and set it up so that people can see what’s in a ShelterBox.”

On its website, ShelterBox Canada states that ShelterBoxes “are filled with practical tools and utensils that help to create the framework for everyday life.” These include a family-sized tent to shelter people from the elements and provide “a safe space in which people can start to recover from the physical and emotional trauma.”

A typical ShelterBox includes what a family needs to survive the aftermath of a disaster, such as tarps, blankets, solar lights, a cooking stove, pots, dishes, a shovel, a water purification system, and mosquito netting.

Double-Walled tents for colder climates

There is some variation in the contents of ShelterBoxes, based on local circumstances. For example, double-walled tents are deployed in regions where colder temperatures are common.

When a disaster occurs, boxes are on their way to where they are needed within two or


Winterized ShelterBox tents sheltered Syrian families in a refugee camp in norther Iraq

three days, from seven warehouses located around the world. Distribution is co-ordinated from the headquarters in England, where ShelterBox was established in 2000 by a Rotary club as a Millennium project. Its purpose is to provide temporary shelter and supplies to families who have been displaced by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, drought and famine.

ShelterBox Canada, which is a registered Canadian charity, has been part of the ShelterBox network since 2010.

Supporting ShelterBox Canada is a way for Youth to Make a Difference

Nicole says she was “first drawn to ShelterBox because I do lots of work with youth. They always want to do something and this is a way in which they can become involved.”

She believes that ShelterBox is an ideal vehicle for this type of involvement, “because if we can get resources to families when they are most in need, we can get them back to normalcy more quickly. If they are dry and safe, they are ready to rebuild.”

Bernie explains his involvement by saying that he “was impressed by how the organization works in partnership with Rotary. I appreciate how they deal with people who are experiencing crisis in their lives, in the aftermath of war and natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and floods.”

Based on his own experience, he can relate to what it’s like to encounter a natural disaster. “I myself was displaced by a flood,” he says, recalling what happened in 1988 when he was living in Slave Lake.

In addition to its iconic boxes, the organization provides ShelterKits, which contain what people need to begin recovering and repairing their homes, including such items as tools, ropes, tarpaulins and “whatever it takes to help people recover from disaster.”

“We test and evaluate all the aid we provide by talking to, and learning from, the families who use it. This fuels us to be innovative and to continue evolving,” says ShelterBox Canada’s website.

In the past 12 months, ShelterBox has responded to 24 events in 21 countries, including the Rohingya refugee crisis in Bangladesh, the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in the Caribbean, drought in Somaliland and conflict in Iraq.

To learn more about ShelterBox, visit the organization’s website or contact Bernie (780-865-9355 or Bernie.kreiner@shaw.ca) or Nicole (780-756-0719 or nicole@sugarplumconsulting.com). They are available to speak to your club or arrange for a ShelterBox to be shipped to you to be displayed in your community.

You can make a donation in support of ShelterBox Canada online, or mail a cheque to: ShelterBox Canada, 159 Jane Street, Office 2, Toronto, ON M6S 3Y8. You can also make donations by phoning 1-855-875-4661.

Tax receipts will be issue for donations of $20 or more.