Peace through Rotary: District 5370 Governor lays out vision

The woman in charge of Rotary clubs across Northern Alberta and Northeast B.C. came with an apt message of peace building during her visit to the Peace Country this week.

Ingrid Neitsch, governor for Rotary District 5370, visited with clubs in Fort St. John and Dawson Creek to lay out her vision of becoming a peace building district and growing Rotary membership, particularly when it comes to youth.

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"We have the infrastructure, we have the talent, we have the ability to lead the world in peace building initiatives," Neitsch, an educator from Edmonton, told members of the Fort St. John Rotary Club Thursday.

There are more than 500 Rotary districts worldwide, and only 35 have become a peace building district, according to Neitsch.

Club contributions to Rotary Peace Centres have helped train more than 1,000 fellows for peace building careers through both certificate and Master's degree programs. Fellows have gone on to work across the world, from Ukraine to Mexico to Nepal and beyond, Neitsch said.

Neitsch sees peace building as a way to encourage more youth to join the club — it's easier for them to identify with that type of hands-on service than connect with Rotary's fight to eradicate polio, she said. It also ties into Rotary's current theme of being the inspiration.

"Sure, we have moments of inspiration, but what do we do with that?" Neitsch asked. "We need action."

Rotary's membership is on the decline in the district, according to Neitsch, and she's set a goal of creating three new clubs and gaining 50 net new members this year. Public awareness and communication is needed to achieve that goal, she said, calling Rotarians "unsung heroes" of their communities.

"I know we can make a difference. We can reverse that trend," Neitsch said. "We need to make more people aware of the good work Rotary does."

During her visit, Neitsch toured local sites, including the new Rotary Spray Park, Rotary RV Park and Charlie Lake, and the museum. She'll take part in the Dawson Creek Fall Fair parade Friday.

"There's evidence in the community of your contributions," she said. "You are the heart of our district."

Rotary notes

  • Brad Small was recognized for 20 years of service
  • Shirley Viens was recognized for 15 years of service
  • Neil Greenway was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow for a sixth time
  • Stacy Kennedy and Victor Irene were both inducted to the Rotary Club of Fort St. John 

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at

Neil Greenway was recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow for a sixth time on Aug. 9, 2018. - Leona Smith
Victor Irene is inducted to the Rotary Club of Fort St. John, Aug. 9, 2018. - Matt Preprost
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