The Savation Army launched its Christmas appeal this week at the Hope in the City 2011 breakfast at Ottawa’s convention centre and hundreds of people attended to lend their support to the cause.
The keynote speaker was Lieutenant Romeo Dallaire. He’s a true hero and an outspoken leader for the 21st century and the audience was spellbound. “Are all humans human?” he asked. “Or are some humans more human than others?”
As a decorated Lieutenant General with the Canadian Armed Forces, an international champion of human rights and award winning author and leader, Dallaire shared with his audience the most extreme results of what can happend when some people are take responsibility without authority. He knows of what he speaks.
When he first received the call to serve as force commander of the UN intervention in Rwanda in 1993, he thought he was heading off on a modest and straightforward peacekeeping mission. Thirteen months later he flew home from Africa, broken, disillusioned and suicidal, having witnessed the slaughter of 800,000 Rwandans in only a hundred days. His book, Shake Hands with the Devil, tells of his voyage into the hell of Rwanda, vividly recreating the events the international community turned its back on. It’s an eyewitness account of the failure by humanity to stop the genocide, despite timely warnings.
Dallaire discussed leadership and conflict resolution, illustrated with stories of his own experiences. He inspired those of us in his audience to address the ethical and moral issues in conflicts. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
It was a fitting keynote address for the Salvation Hope in the City 2011 launch. Ottawa shoppers will be seeing volunteers with Salvation Army Kettles right across town as they work to raise funds to help support families and individuals living in poverty. Please give generously when you see them. Or you can set up your own Christmas iKettle to help raise money.
- Sometimes heroes fail (graybeardtrail.wordpress.com)
- Herald reporter, diplomat to be added to memorial mural (calgaryherald.com)