Marking 100 years in Canada, Rotary brings the world to Montréal 20-23 June
With 17,000 delegates and a local economic impact of $28 million, humanitarian group’s convention will be among city’s largest ever
MONTREAL (June 17, 2010) -- In February, 2,600 athletes from 82 countries gathered in Vancouver to compete in the Winter Olympics. Now it’s Montréal’s turn to welcome the world back to Canada as host city for the 2010 Rotary International Convention, which will bring an estimated 17,000 registrants from 150 countries to town 20-23 June.
Often described as a “mini-United Nations” because of its international and cultural diversity, the always colorful Rotary convention is expected to inject about CAD$28 million into the local economy during its run at the Palais des Congrès and Centre Bell. Tourism Montréal officials say it will be the largest convention held in Montréal since the mid-1990s.
Montréal Mayor Gérald Tremblay said the Rotary convention brings “important spin-off benefits” to the city, including the “unique opportunity to promote our city and its international reputation.”
“Rotary Clubs are key players in social and cultural development, and they are driven by values shared by all of us,” Tremblay said. “That is why we are so pleased to welcome this annual convention to Montréal.”
His sentiments were echoed by Charles Lapointe, president and chief executive officer of Tourism Montréal. “I am sure the 17,000 delegates expected will have a wonderful experience,” he said. “Our city is a great match with Rotary, which is founded on the idea of the remarkable things people can accomplish when they come together.”
Rotary International President John Kenny, a native of Scotland, describes Montréal as “a fascinating city” and notes that the annual convention presents “Rotary at its best.”
“It has been said many times that you cannot truly appreciate the internationality of Rotary until you attend a convention,” Kenny said.
The convention marks Rotary’s centenary in Canada. The first Rotary club outside the United States was formed in Winnipeg in 1910, five years after the humanitarian service organization began in Chicago. Today, more than 33,000 Rotary clubs operate in over 200 countries and areas with total membership exceeding 1.2 million men and women. On 18 June, Canada Post will issue a special 57-cent stamp commemorating Rotary’s 100 years in Canada.
The Montréal convention’s lineup of keynote speakers includes peace advocate Her Majesty the Queen Noor of Jordan (10:30 a.m., June 22); Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greg Mortenson (10:30 a.m., June 21), author of “Three Cups of Tea,” a bestseller about his work to reduce poverty and educate girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan; and country music star and literacy advocate Dolly Parton (10:30 a.m., June 23). All keynotes are at the Centre Bell Arena.
Pre-convention events include a World Water Summit at the Delta Centre-Ville Hotel on June 19, highlighting the many ways Rotary clubs work with other nonprofits and public agencies to address the global water and sanitation crisis. Water Summit keynote speakers include Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte (8:45 a.m.), who established the ONE DROP Foundation; and Clarissa Brocklehurst, chief of UNICEF’s Water, Environment and Sanitation Division.
Much of the convention will focus on polio eradication, Rotary’s top priority for more than 20 years. Rotary and its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative have reduced the incidence of polio by more than 99 percent. To finish the job, Rotary is raising US$200 million to match a US$355 million challenge grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The entire $555 million will support critical immunization efforts necessary to end polio once and for all.
Convention-goes and the general public will enjoy a special light display on the evening of June 21, when Old Montréal’s historic Bensecours Market will be bathed in a light display carrying Rotary’s message, En Finir Avec la Polio (End Polio Now). The ceremony, which begins at 8:45 p.m., will include Rotary member Ramesh Ferris, of Whitehorse, Yukon, a polio survivor who raised more than CAD$300,000 for polio eradication in 2008 when he cycled across Canada.
The annual convention gives Rotary members the opportunity to share success stories, exchange ideas and renew acquaintances. Much of that networking takes place in the popular House of Friendship (Palais des Congrès, Hall 220 A-E), where more than 100 service projects will be on display, illustrating the depth and breadth of Rotary clubs’ work to address today’s most pressing problems, such as poverty, illiteracy, disease, and pollution. A House of Friendship highlight is sure to be a 1,500-square-foot replica of a portion of an actual Ugandan village which California and Ugandan Rotary clubs are helping to make more productive and life-sustainable through innovative clean-water and solar power technologies.
Rotary is a worldwide organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. Rotary’s global membership is approximately 1.2 million men and women who belong to more than 33,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas.