Rotary speaker calls on club to work with First Nations

by Lucie Roy

It is time for Rotary members to think of Aboriginal relations. That was the message from Rotary Club of Sherwood Park Youth Director John Vrolijk, the Morinville Rotary Club’s guest speaker Jan. 7.

“The Morinville Rotary Club is 10 miles from Alexander First Nation. This Club should go to Alexander reserve and tell them what Rotary does and say how can we, as Rotarians get involved,” Vrolijk said. “How can we help you? How can we help you put pressure on the government – provincial and federal – to assist you with housing? Bring Alexander members here make them as Honorary members.”

Vrolijk spoke about Rotary Community Corps (RCC), a group of non-Rotarians who share the worldwide organization’s commitment to service. They RCCs carry out projects in their communities and support local Rotary Club projects and become eligible for grants. The Rotary members are there solely as advisors. Because the community members have a vested interest and work on the project, the project is more likely to live on. “Not far north from here you have Metis settlements,” Vrolijk said. “There are huge needs in our Aboriginal population in our nation. As Rotarians, it is easy for us to get involved. Rather than going to Africa, let’s look 10 miles west, let’s make this a
national project.”

Vrolijk also spoke of the Rotary Aboriginal Partnership (RAP) within the Rotary 5370 District, of which Morinville is a member. The vision is to have every club in the District involved in a project to support Aboriginal people. He said Rotary has historically done great work to assist people in third world conditions internationally and now to also direct Rotary efforts to meeting the needs of Aboriginal Canadians living in similar Third World conditions.

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