Posted by Don Evans on Feb 13, 2018
February 9, 10 & 11 -  What a special weekend it was, as 825 Rotarians and friends (from 30 countries) came for the Presidential Peacebuilding Conference with the theme focus of Environmental Sustainability and Peace.   Rotary International President Ian Riseley presided over the conference, well organized by PDG John Anderson and his team.   Other Rotary dignitaries included RI Vice President Dean Rhors, RI Director John Matthews and Rotary Foundation Chair Paul Netzel.   It was an outstanding event in every regard.

The House of Friendship had more than 25 interesting booths and exhibitors and opened at 5:30PM on Friday.   The Friday evening opening reception saw welcome words from Conference Chair John Anderson and President Ian. I had the opportunity to welcome everyone to District 5040 and the honour (with our Peace Scholar Champion Gloria Staudt) of receiving a certificate designating District 5040 as a Peacebuilding District.   Live entertainment was provided by amazing 15 year old pianist Augustin Wright and later by the Squamish Nation Dancers who did a great interactive performance.
Saturday, February 10 was the main conference day, and we had a great variety of plenary speakers, panels and breakouts on diverse topics around environmental sustainability and peace initiatives.   Headlined by Dr David Suzuki, the participants received awesome information and ideas that had us all contemplating how we more effectively worked for the future of our planet. It was a jam packed day with so much great information to build from.
The evening banquet was a delight as we enjoyed a great meal in the Hyatt Ballroom together.   RI President Riseley gave closing remarks and then we had the Langley Ukulele Ensemble entertain us.   They even had President Riseley up on stage to sing Waltzing Matilda (which he did quite ably!)
Sunday morning February 11 saw the group split away and do five special projects in the community, including planting trees at Everett Crowley Park, a shoreline cleanup, a food bank project and others.   We attended the planting of a Hiroshima Survivor Ginkgo tree at Van Deusen Botanical Gardens, where RI President Riseley did the honours.   A 95 year old gentleman, who survived the atomic bomb attack, gave a spellbinding account of what it was like that morning in August 1945 - an event we must all work to see never gets repeated.