We were delighted to welcome our exchange  student, Natalia, our District Governor Elect, Tom McCaughy and two other  guests, Donna’s son, Dan Warren, and a new faculty member at Dal, Maria Reyes, to our meeting.  In addition, we were honoured to have our speaker, Wayne  MacKay, QC, OC.

After the usual start to the meeting, which included Valerie’s interesting Rotary Minute from the founder of Filene’s Bargain Basement, a Rotarian, we heard some happy tidbits, several people were happy to have participated in the Interact Club’s penny rolling on Tuesday.  They raised over $200 for Polio, their goal was $50 so this was wonderful.  Those purple pinkies are great.  Stella is looking forward to District training this weekend (that is why Tom is in town).  Donna is happy to have her son and daughter-in-law visiting this weekend.  Vivienne was happy to have seen the Rotary ad on TV.  Paul Roy was happy to have attended a great event with Ken.   He also told us that Natalia is leaving today for a Peace Event in New Brunswick.


Louisa introduced our newest members, Erin and Donna, to the DGE.  She also had a few reminders, next week we meet on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Comfort Hotel; we will not meet next Friday, Remembrance Day.  There is a New Member Tea Party (aka “Fireside Chat”) next Sunday at Louisa’s.  Louisa also announced a contest for members to submit their photo, the criteria are that a framed Declaration of Rotarians in Business, or the Four-Way Test must be visible, along with some symbol of the member’s work or former work... perhaps a piece of a uniform, a piece of equipment, a sign from a workplace... something that represents the member’s classification.  In answer to Mike’s question, appropriate clothing is NOT optional.  Send your digital photo, which will be used on the website, to Louisa.

Peter introduced Wayne MacKay, Chair of the Nova Scotia Cyberbullying Task Force, who spoke to us on the important work of this group, it was formed partly in response to the challenges we face with bullying that have resulted in several suicides of young people.  Professor MacKay of the Dal Law School is an internationally recognized expert in human rights law, a former Director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, and a former President of Mount Allison University. 

The mandate of the Task Force is to prepare and present to the Minister of Education practical short-term and long-term recommendations to address cyberbullying of children and youth. These recommendations will address legislative, policy and procedural matters with pragmatic and practical strategies.  The goal in conducting this review is to ensure a safe, respectful, and productive school environment where optimal learning can occur, while ensuring that students take responsibility for their own behaviour and the impact that this behaviour has on others.

Mr. MacKay told us that bullying is a pervasive social issue and with the rapid growth of Facebook and other social media. It is everywhere. Young people can be targeted anytime and anywhere. Unplugging is really not an option for them.   A particularly shocking statistic he shared was that 20% of young women aged 13-16 indicated that they are willing to post inappropriate photos of themselves online, these can later become “ammunition” for online abuse.  He said that the loss of community is a factor in the spread of bullying, we have seen changes in values and in behaviour and the problem is complex.  The solutions will be complex as well and will require wide ranging social involvement in the interventions and prevention.  Social and legislative action will be needed and there may be a role for Rotary to play. Might this be an area for us to explore for a local, signature initiative?  For more information, see www.cyberbullying.novascotia.ca.