Lewis Keynote Links Local, Global Efforts for Change

With a show of admiration and gratitude, UBCM delegates welcomed Stephen Lewis to the stage this morning to provide the keynote address. Speaking to his own credentials and background, Mr. Lewis quickly had the attention of delegates, evoking laughter in his early comments.

The audience was soon sobered however, as Lewis turned to his personal experiences in Africa and spoke to the horrors of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, as well as global efforts to address sexual violence.

In response, Lewis was quick to remind delegates about the infinite resilience of community strength and engagement that is evident across Africa, and the globe. With a continued focus on the undeniable value of community, Lewis linked his work in the international community with the work of BC's local elected officials and spoke directly to a number of themes that are being addressed in this year's resolutions.

This included issues relating to climate change, and Lewis applauded BC for the Climate Action Charter – which he characterized as an admirable document that could be the model for all of Canada. This was followed by insights on the issues of water and sanitation, and mental health and addictions. At all times Lewis was clear that the work that is undertaken at the local level is a key contributor to global efforts in these arenas and repeatedly applauded BC's local governments for being agents of change, engagement and community strength.

Following a number of questions, and renewed laughter from the audience, Lewis closed with a response to a question about how elected officials can persevere in the face of opposition and constituent displeasure. His advice was simple: if you feel in your heart that you are doing the right thing then follow your convictions and keep doing it.

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