A National First for Eskasoni High School
March 25, 2013
On Monday, March 25, 2013, history was made when the first, First Nation Rotary Interact Club in Canada was officially opened at the Allison Bernard Memorial High School in Eskasoni. The Eskasoni Interact Club officially received its club banner during a celebration at the high school’s cultural center, making them the first, First Nations community to have an interact club in Canada.
On hand for the presentation were the District Governor Mr. Tom McCaughey and the Assistant Governor Mr. Bob Munroe. Also present for the celebration were various members from the Rotary clubs of Sydney.
High school Principle, Newell Johnson, welcomed the interact members and the invited guests and spoke about the pride and admiration she has for the members of the group. A traditional opening ceremony took place with prayer, smudging and the four directions prayer by Elizabeth Sylliboy and Sylvia Denny. The Honor Song was performed by Aaron Prosper along with a traditional dancing performed by Thunder Herney, Mary V. Googoo, and Danielle Stevens. Also on hand was Role Model of the Year, Roger Stevens.
The club was formed back in November 2012 but according to Scott MacLean, a member of the interact committee; it wasn’t long before the students started helping within their community.
“Within moments of starting the club, they took over the school breakfast program, so they now serve breakfast to all their peers every morning,” said MacLean. “And they organized a Coats for Kids campaign at the end of November. They gathered up a lot of coats and then had a coat giveaway in Eskasoni and I think they gave away 60 coats. They helped at Eskasoni Christmas telethon. They’re just a good bunch of kids who would do good things themselves but now they’re doing it together as an organized group.”
Interact adviser and teacher Ron Martin, Principle Newell Johnson and the interact group meet every Thursday, and Martin said he is amazed by their energy.
“Every time there’s a snowstorm, they’re out doing the elder’s driveways and leave before anyone knows it,” said Martin. “They’ve been involved with Christmas Daddies, they’re taking part in the Run for the Cure. I am so impressed with them.”
Interact is Rotary International’s service club for young people ages 12 to 18. Interact clubs are sponsored by individual Rotary Clubs, which provide support and guidance, but they are self-governing and self-supporting.
The club presently has between 25 and 30 member with Karlee Johnson as its president. The club is chartered as the Eskasoni Interact Club so that members can come from the high school or the junior high next door. Interact clubs are supposed to complete at least two community service projects annually, including one that will further international understanding and goodwill. Martin said the international project is the next one on the Eskasoni club’s agenda.
The banner was accepted by Interact President Karlee Johnson, who offered her acceptance in both Mi’kmaq and English. District Governor McCaughey presented the other members of the executive with their pins. Finally the entire interact group received their membership cards and pins.
The celebration concluded with a feast prepared by Rotarian Scott MacLean.
A wonderful celebration was enjoyed by all and the interact members have committed themselves to continue to live the motto of Rotary: Service to others first.
Almost 200,000 young people are involved in interact in more than 10,700 clubs in 109 countries and geographical areas.