Hello to all Rotarians, Rotaractors and Interactors as we enter the final month in the Rotary year. June is Fellowship month and a time to look at the importance of friendships and relationships in Rotary. Fellowship is a word with an evolving definition. I think in our Rotary context, the most relevant meaning is “a society or group of people sharing mutual interests or activities” and a secondary meaning of “companionship or friendship”. 
In our vast organization, we also have interest groups or subgroups under the fellowship umbrella. These include hobbies, interests, past times, professions and other pursuits. I belong to the International Fellowship of Rotarian Doctors and get daily messages on current health issues and projects from physicians around the globe.
Fellowship is one of Rotary’s Core Values. The other values include integrity, diversity, service and leadership. When surveys have been done in the past regarding why Rotarians joined in the first place and why they stay in Rotary, friendship is in the top 3-5 reasons listed. A key relationship for us as Rotarians must be the person who was our sponsor: that individual who thought enough about you to invite you to meeting and to guide you down that path to membership. My sponsor, Dr John Moffat,  is now well into his 80’s and no longer in Rotary but remains a lifelong friend and I always enjoy conversations with him. It is through some form of a trusting friendship that Rotarians invite others to come to a meeting and to consider becoming a member.
As District Governor, one of my obligatory duties was to offer a District Conference during the Rotary year. In 2019, I chose the conference date as Saturday, May 29 2021. According to protocol, a committee was struck Co-chaired by Jennifer Ngo and Betty Jo Parent (both from Mississauga West). This group began planning over a year ago and recruited many others to plan and organize the event. With the Worldwide Covid Pandemic being declared in Mach of 2020 and with all District and RI meetings and events being relegated to virtual gatherings, our group began to plan the conference as a Zoom formatted program.
As you probably know, the conference took place this past weekend, with some Rotary world leaders taking part. The list included – Past RI President, Ian Riseley, from Australia, Valarie Wafer, RI Director from Collingwood South Georgian Bay and Jennifer Jones, RI President Nominee from Windsor Roseland- Jennifer will serve as RI President in 2022-23 and will be the first woman ever to lead our organization. The only non-Rotarian presenter at the conference was Boris Cherniak, a motivational hypnotist. Boris told us that your brain is a computer and that you are the programmer. The overall theme of the conference was the Environment (Rotary’s Area of Focus # 7- officially added this year). Added to the overall theme was my personal motto for the year- “Take care of self, each other and the planet.” The program consisted of presentations by the 4 key speakers and then break-out sessions. Attendees had to decide on what break-out they wanted to attend from the choices that included- The Environment led by Michael Pavan, Interact chaired by Uche Okugo, Peace- moderated by PDG Kathi Dick, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) facilitated by Valarie Wafer and Indigenous Issues with leader John Lomax.
The program moderator was DGND, Brenda Halloran, who did a masterful job at keeping the meeting flowing from beginning to end. Thanks to Darren Sweeny for his technical support, Bill Proctor for his role a Registrar and break-out support, to Dan Dubreuil for promotional messages and to Leah Parent for marketing. We had over 170 attendees and the initial survey results were very positive.
We have some important dates to remember in June. Our Changeover and Awards Night will be held on June 23 at 7 pm. This will be an opportunity to congratulate individuals and clubs who have enjoyed great success. As part of the district event, I will give my year end address and welcome incoming DG Rudy as he is inducted and gives his inaugural address. Please see the website for registration details. The RI Virtual Convention from Taiwan takes place from June 6-12 with an extensive program so we can pick and choose those sessions that are the most relevant to us. It seems that most clubs will have their own changeover events to celebrate the past year, thank their leaders and induct the officers for the coming year.
As Rotarians, I want to encourage you to consider a year-end donation to the Rotary Foundation. Your voluntary contributions drive the many projects ongoing throughout the world. Our number one priority remains the elimination of polio and we are looking at fewer than 100 cases yearly. Those cases being confined to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation continues their 2:1 match every year that Rotarians contribute $50,000. Remember that your contributions to the Foundation accumulates Paul Harris Award points and for every $1,000 USD the donor gets another level of award. For those of us who have received your PH Fellow Award, please consider joining the Paul Harris Society by donating $1000 or more yearly. We have 121 PHS members in our District. Contact PDG, Syd Harmon, for details.
In conclusion, I thank all Rotarians and Rotaractors for their energy and enthusiasm and finding new ways to serve, new ways to fundraise, and to enjoy fellowship. Our District leaders have responded to the challenge from RI President Holger Knaack to be revolutionary and responded to the “Rotary Opens Opportunities” theme.  Our Executive, Directors, AG’s, G Team and Presidents have been dedicated and resilient and I have been proud honoured to have served as your DG. I had been told by many who preceded me that the year will go by in a flash and how true that is! Thank you all for everything you do for Rotary.
Take care of self, each other and the planet.
DG Mike