Mayor applauds work on WHO conference

Mayor Glenn Witherspoon applauded the hard work behind staging the World Health Organization’s 11th-annual Conference on Safe Communities coming up here in May after conference co-ordinator Jeannette Cawston gave council an update at Monday night’s meeting.
“Speaking from the outside, and being to some meetings where the conference was discussed, I have to say this is probably the biggest undertaking our district has ever taken,” the mayor said.
“The opportunity for recognition is there. I think just a few words sums it all up—Fort Frances 2002, Hong Kong 2003. That’s incredible,” he added, referring to the fact next year’s WHO conference will be in Hong Kong.
The conference, which is slated May 6-9, is stirring up public interest, attracting more than 250 district volunteers so far with the help of volunteer co-ordinator Diane Maxey, said Cawston.
Cawston’s presentation basically was the same as the one she gave at the annual meeting of the Rainy River District Municipal Association here last month, and included a breakdown of the conference schedule.
May 6 will be the day delegates register, culminating in a community fish fry at Rainy River First Nation. It also will feature a first for any WHO conference—a youth safety summit, said Cawston.
“This will bring together 150 aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth delegates from around the world to explore and address the safety risks they are facing today,” she remarked.
Cawston noted the youth summit will feature former Buffalo Sabres coach Ted Nolan, the Madigans (an Irish father-and-son team who will speak on violence and substance abuse), and Jesse Terry, a Sioux Lookout resident who will talk about youth achievement.
Terry is the youngest person to ever climb Mt. Logan.
Also planned for youth is the Youth Link Workplace Safety Show, which will take place that day at the Townshend Theatre.
The first official day of the conference (May 7) will include opening ceremonies, featuring several dignitaries, followed by conference sessions featuring some of the 100 scheduled presenters.
Among the presenters are Paul Kells, founder of the Safe Communities Foundation, Meri-K Appy, vice-president for Public Education of the American National Fire Protection Association, and Barbara Hall, chair of the National Strategy on Community Safety and Crime Prevention.
The day will end with an open community dinner that evening, featuring guest speakers and local entertainment
Delegates then will hit the road May 8, choosing from several sites located between Rainy River and Atikokan, or stay here for a mill safety tour.
They may travel back for dinner at the Fort Frances Curling Club and Culturama.
Thursday will wrap things up with more information sessions, the Safe Communities Foundation awards ceremony, and the closing ceremony.
The fifth-annual Canadian Safe Communities Conference is being held in conjunction with the WHO one.
Delegates also will be encouraged to stay in the area to take more tours May 10.
Cawston wrapped up her presentation by noting there’s always more room for conference sponsors. A few major sponsors already on board include Abitibi-Consolidated, area First Nations, and the Town of Fort Frances.
For more information on the WHO conference, drop by the office at 414 Scott St. or log on to