Posted by Mark Chipman, District 7070 Governor , 2020-21

Hello District 7070:

Here we go!!!!  On July 1, 2020 we kick off an exciting, new Rotary year, a year in which the status of Rotaractors will be elevated within the Rotary family.  What an honour and privilege it is to serve as the District Governor in 7070, the best Rotary District in the world!   Our District Leadership Team is here to support our 1,953 members, 55 clubs, and our Rotaract and Interact clubs from Etobicoke to Belleville and Prince Edward County and north to Alliston!.....


My deepest praise to all the 2019-20 Club Presidents, Past District Governor Dr. Beth Selby and the District Leadership Team for navigating us through turbulent waters during this global pandemic.

There has been so much loss, pain and disappointment resulting from COVID-19.  It is heartbreaking.  

At the same, I see a silver lining in these dark clouds.  Sun Tzu from the Art of War states “in the midst of chaos there is also opportunity”.  This is in tune with 2020-21 Rotary International (RI) President Holger Knaack’s theme that “Rotary Opens Opportunities”


And yes, District 7070 has seized many opportunities and reacted in truly positive ways:


Playing a key role in helping our communities during COVID-19.  There are countless, inspirational stories of Rotarians pitching in to help at foodbanks, distributing personal safety equipment, providing much needed funds to our Honouring Indigenous People (HIP) program, and purchasing survival kits from Shelterbox. In our District, 42 clubs took advantage of the $1,000 District matching grants to help our communities.  Special recognition to the GTA Connect Rotaract Club for their Small Acts of Kindness initiative that helps so many people in small, meaningful ways. We are #PeoplofAction!


Embracing technology. We have vaulted 5 years ahead in our adoption of technology. Clubs have leveraged online apps like Zoom to continue meeting, with some experiencing higher than average attendance. Our online District Assembly was attended by 140 people and our “Rotary Connects” sessions were attended by over 100 participants - this is awesome!  Perhaps future Club meetings will be a hybrid of physical gatherings and online technology?  We are also thrilled to announce our online “Tuesday Talks” series. These informative Zoom sessions will be held on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, starting in July – watch our District social media for more details!


Collaborating between clubs.  The recently unveiled District Strategic Plan and 2020-21 Action Plan created with input from more than 700 District members, reflects the desire by our members to see more collaboration between clubs.   Clubs have come together to share ideas, particularly around new, innovative virtual fundraisers.  Rotaract Clubs, such as Willowdale, GTA Connect, Toronto, Danforth and York have joined forces with Rotary Clubs on COVID-19 related projects with great success. Ongoing “regional” Club President and Assistant Governor Meetings are generating incredible opportunities to unite and work together. 

Launching new, topical committees.  We are launching several new and relevant District committees including Leadership Development (Chair, Dhamay Kanthan), Technology & Information Management (Chair, Darryl Patterson) and Environmental Action (Chair, Nilam Bedi), the latter aligning with RI’s creation of ‘Supporting the Environment’ as a new Area of Focus. There will be lots of opportunities for participation in the great work of these committees - stay tuned.


Recognizing and Celebrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)   Last month, RI issued a statement: “At Rotary we have no tolerance for racism. Promoting respect, celebrating diversity, demanding ethical leadership and working tirelessly to advance peace are central tenets of our work”.  Further to this, we are forming a District DEI committee (Chair, Heather Drakes) which will have a mandate to enable the District and Clubs to better reflect the communities we serve and be inclusive to all experiences and identities.  We will develop policies to make our District and Clubs more welcoming and provide a forum to foster greater understanding and awareness of DEI.  We have work to do but I know we are up to the challenge!


Celebrating Rotary Heroes at the District Conference – yes, it is still happening!!!!  This year’s conference in Toronto has been rescheduled to April 9-11, 2021.  Our theme is “A Celebration of Rotary Heroes and Champions”.  We will have so much to celebrate by then and it will be a perfect opportunity to get together and share some laughs with all your Rotary friends!  Register at


As we look ahead to the new Rotary year, we move forward.  In the midst of chaos we will continue to find opportunities to grow and contribute to positive change.  Writer Leslie Dwight stated:  "What if 2020 isn’t cancelled, what if 2020 is the year we've been waiting for, a year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw - that it finally forces us to grow.”  My ask of you is to be engaged within your club and community, reach out to other clubs to collaborate, be innovative and step outside of your comfort zone.  I wish you well this year as we grow as individuals and as Rotarians in District 7070, working together to inspire and make positive change in our communities and the world.


Thank you for making a difference!

Mark Chipman

District 7070 Governor, 2020-21