December 2023

RI President ~ December Message

R. Gordon R. McInally

R. Gordon R. McInally

President 2023-24

December 2023

In December, I will attend the United Nations COP28 climate change summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. There, I will speak about the convergence of two global crises: climate and mental health. As the World Health Organization has noted, climate change worsens risk factors — such as disruptions to homes and livelihoods — for mental health problems. The emotional distress of a disaster also makes it difficult for people to recover and rebuild. 

Rotary partner ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that has helped more than 2.5 million displaced people in approximately 100 countries with emergency shelter, essential household items, and technical support. I wish to share this month’s column with their CEO, Sanj Srikanthan, who explains that the words we choose to describe disasters matter.  

— Gordon McInally

The term “natural” disaster has long been used to describe tropical storms, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, but there needs to be an urgent shift in the language we use. While the term may seem harmless, and we’ve not always gotten it right, we’ve learned through our work with disaster-affected communities how it perpetuates a dangerous myth that nothing could have been done to prevent people being so badly affected. This misleading and harmful narrative can lead to a lack of action to help people who need it.

The language we use matters. When we frame disasters as natural, we fail to acknowledge the complex interplay between nature and the role of human actions and how they impact communities around the world.

Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and extreme storms, drought, and flooding occur because of natural processes on Earth. But it is how these events affect people or the environment that has the potential to make them a disaster — outcomes influenced by human factors like where people live, what types of homes they have, political instability, and the lack of proactive measures to protect vulnerable communities. A disaster is the result of systemic inequalities in access to resources and power. Where we live and how much money we have often determines our ability to recover. The people worst affected are those living in poverty, with the least means to protect themselves and few resources to withstand the next event. 

By framing these events as natural, we undermine the need for proactive measures to protect vulnerable communities, masking the underlying social, economic, and political instability that makes marginalized and disadvantaged communities disproportionately affected. Our teams see firsthand how issues like inequality, poverty, urbanization, deforestation, and the climate crisis can make communities more vulnerable.

At ShelterBox, we simply say “disaster” or are more specific, describing the extreme weather, earthquake, tsunami, or volcanic eruption. I urge everyone to help us in breaking this cycle by committing to language that accurately reflects why people are affected so badly.   

Only then does it pave the way to address the underlying causes of vulnerability and work toward a more just and equitable future for all, with the necessary investment, resources, and proactive measures to help protect affected communities. 

Disasters are not natural. Let’s stop saying they are.

Sanj Srikanthan
CEO, ShelterBox

Edmonton West Serving the Community

The Salvation Army Edmonton Christmas Kettle Campaign 

The Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign is one of Canada’s largest and most recognizable annual charitable events. The Annual Christmas Kettle Campaign seeks donations from the public to help them assist millions of people living in poverty. Contributions allow The Salvation Army to provide many year-round programs and services, such as job and skills training, hot meals, school supplies, counselling, food bank services, and more, which help people find a way out of poverty, permanently. 

All Kettle donations stay local to support community programs and services for people in need. When you give to The Salvation Army, you are investing in the future of marginalized and overlooked people in your community. 
Thank you so much to our festive volunteers who jingled their bells for a good cause. Rotarians: Karen Gibbens, Annie Mueller, Fred Kraft, Jim Johnston, Al Sanderson, Ben Doz and Nancy Lavimizadeh. And our MacEwan University Rotaractors Rachel and Connor.

Boyle Street Indigenous Christmas 

Indigenous Christmas is a Boyle Street tradition.  It's a festive celebration, with staff and community members, of all the best the season has to offer and emphasize a connection to culture and people. Our club was honoured to be part of the festivities and help out where we could. 
Thanks to John Donner for helping to set up the event and get things ready for the guests. I took a couple of co-workers along during our lunch hour to help to serve the delicious meal. Brian and Dianna Rawlings were also on hand to clean up and serve cake.
During the event guests were entertained by several bands and some dancing broke out. Many warm coats had been donated for the guests to choose from. A visit from Santa and the Photo Booth were the big highlights of the event.
Rob and Elizabeth Dunseith volunteered to lend a hand with the clean up.
Upcoming Events
Wounded Warriors - Ian Hall
University Club
Jan. 08, 2024
11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Golf Tournament Planning
Suite 205, 14127-23 Avenue NW
Jan. 13, 2024
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Cycling Vacations - Joe Lizotte
University Club
Jan. 22, 2024
11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Zebra Child & Youth Advocacy - Emmy Stuebing
University Club
Feb. 05, 2024
11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Volunteering at the Food Bank
Edmonton Food Bank Warehouse
Feb. 06, 2024
5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
View entire list

Christmas Lunch

It's the most wonderful time of the year to get together with members, family and friends to share some fellowship. The University Club provided a delicious meal with all the trimmings. There was an abundance of festive cheer and a great time was had by all.
Birthdays & Anniversaries
Member Birthdays
Vic Rudkowski
January 2
Karen Gibbens
January 5
Richard Dickinson
January 10
Joseph Lizotte
December 16
Mike Ryan
December 25
Spouse Birthdays
Pat White
January 26
Join Date
Ben Doz
January 1, 1993
31 years
Brian Rawlings
January 1, 2011
13 years
John Donner
January 6, 2020
4 years
Bruce Hobin
January 10, 2001
23 years
Arthur Lachance
January 13, 2013
11 years
David Graham
January 28, 2022
2 years
Ann Orsini
December 1, 1991
32 years
Anthony Lazaruk
December 19, 2014
9 years

Zebra Child & Youth Advocacy Centre

As you will remember, Marley graciously stopped by the Zebra Centre to drop off our donation of $5000. The CEO Emmy Stuebing sent a heartfelt thank you letter. She will be speaking to our club on February 5th, 2024.

What's Happening in 2024?


Capital City Rotary Integrity Awards

Edmonton West has committed to planning and hosting the Capital City Rotary Integrity Awards for three years. Our inaugural event last year was a great success and attended by many of our members. In 2024 it will be the 30th Anniversary of the Awards and we plan to make it an epic event. Please mark your calendars and save the date!!

Edmonton West Golf Fundraiser

The Rotary Club of Edmonton West relies on fundraising to carry out all the good work we do in our local community and for our international projects. We will be counting on each and every member to contribute to our Golf Fundraiser. Please Save the Date on your calendars and start gathering auction items!!

Looking Back at 2023

As the old year draws to a close it is often a time of reflection. 
As Rotarians we have made a commitment not only to represent Rotary in our community, but also to do significant, meaningful work from which our community will benefit.  
When we join Rotary, we make a commitment to Rotary values, to friendships and to a life of Service Above Self.  As Edmonton West Rotarians we should be proud of all that we have achieved together and the lives we have improved this past year. 
It is also a time to look forward at the year ahead and imagine what we can achieve. We imagine a world without polio, with clean water for everyone. We imagine a world free of disease and where every child learns to read. We imagine kindness, hope, love, and peace.  
It is going to be an exciting year in 2024…. Happy New Year!
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