Watch the video recording here
 
"This is why I come to Rotary," commented one member during this presentation
 
This week's well-advertised meeting was attended by over 70 individuals, including many prominent guests. The very high expectations regarding our speaker were easily exceeded by his authentic presence and compelling story. He told about a little boy called Devon Clunis suddenly transplanted from Jamaica to Winnipeg at age 11, with the cultural shock and difficulties that ensued but overcome with help from special individuals in his life. All of which led him to a life of service helping others, and becoming the first Black Police Chief in Canada.
 
What an uplifting story, and what a message of hope and inspiration about the POWER OF ONE that each of us can be if we just treat others with dignity and simply ask, "HOW CAN I HELP YOU?"
 
Special tribute this week:
Two of our longstanding members had anniversaries of note:  Ron Newton, a Rotarian for 67 years, and Joe Valeriote, a Rotarian for 53 years! Congratulations, and thank you for your lifetime of Service Above Self. 
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If you missed this week's great presentation, watch our Zoom recording here. You can also watch this TED talk by Devon Clunis at the University of Winnipeg, shortly after his retirement in 2016. His presentation to Rotary was titled "Towards a shared heritage."
 
Some highlights from Devon's overall story include:
  • The lifelong special place in his heart and soul for his grandmother who raised him until age 11 in Harmony Vale, rural Jamaica, imparting values that he still holds in his heart
  • Being whisked off to Winnipeg at age 11 to join his mother, whom he did not know nearly as well as his grandmother
  • Feeling cold the moment he stepped off the plane in Winnipeg, even though it was only September, and his mother immediately providing a winter coat
  • Two days later experiencing his black difference in a mostly white grade 6 class at school in the north end of Winnipeg
  • Failing his first year of school, Grade 6, in Canada
  • The wonder of Miss Hannah in his life, a teacher from his school who voluntarily tutored him for an hour before school each day, inspiring hope, confidence and success. Amazingly, he was able to re-connect with Miss Hannah shortly before her death some 37 years later, and let her know what a difference she had made.
  • The inspiration of his basketball coach at school, who was also his biology teacher
  • Working in a part-time job as Security, and having meaningful discussions with police officers who took time to encourage and inform him
  • Realizing that law enforcement was only one part of the police job, because police services also presented a way to help people
  • Deciding to become a police officer himself, to Be The Difference, and always treating everyone with dignity
  • Eventually becoming the Chief of Police in Winnipeg, the first black chief in Canada
  • His total belief in community policing and community service to help people avoid getting into trouble
  • Using his personal life experience to empathize and support others, especially new Canadians
  • Serving as a School Resource Officer, believing that education is key to helping young people learn what healthy relationships are like
  • Serving as a Police Chaplain (he has a degree in divinity)
  • Eventually writing a children's book describing his personal life story, to encourage young people 
  • Being presented with (and eating) one donut at his retirement ceremony, after refusing the stereotype of police eating donuts for the previous thirty years!
  • In his retirement, continuing to focus on addressing the social issues at the root of crime
This week's program was one of the best. The member who typed "This is why I come to Rotary"in the Zoom Chat Box spoke for most of us.
 
Devon was introduced and interviewed during this presentation by Mahmud Hassain, a fellow graduate from the University of Winnipeg (and as we all know, Mahmud still has a very soft spot for Winnipeg!) and Devon was thanked by Roger Garriock, who lived in Winnipeg for four years and recalled a five-foot snowfall and freezing cold temperature that froze the acid in his car battery.
 
 
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