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It was a thrill to see Romeo Dallaire enter the arena early and involve himself with the members who quickly surrounded him. He answered questions and generously posed for pictures. The meeting was called to order by Ray Williams, President of the Ganaraska Club, and Romeo Dallaire was introduced by Ian Douglas, President of the Brighton Club. Ian told us of the legendary Canadian General who was called on to serve as force commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda. He believed his assignment was to help two warring parties to achieve the peace they both wanted. Instead, he was exposed to a barbaric civil war which culminated in the genocide of more than eight hundred thousand Rwandans.

romeo dallaireFormer Senator, Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire then took the podium. It did not take long for the General to get to his topic - the child soldier. These children as young as 5 years old are recruited and groomed by adults into cheap and plentiful low tech soldiers. They are taught to hate and to fight - and they are very expendable. However, he pointed out, that they may fight like soldiers, but they die like little children.

He said that we have entered an age where children are used deliberately as a combat tactic with strategic advantages. The use of children as weapons of war must be recognized as a security concern with lasting implications for peace and stability. He emphasized the fact that young people are being recruited right here in Canada. He also made it clear that this is one of the most urgent and important issues of our time.

When he was finished speaking, General Dallaire received a resounding standing ovation. He then took a few questions from members and joined us for lunch afterwards.

The Extravaganza is a perfect opportunity for the Northumberland group of Probus clubs to meet and get acquainted. At the committee level it was good to share information and concerns. The next one is planned for late Spring 2017 and the planning will start in the summer of 2016. The goal is to involve club vice presidents to sit on the planning committee.

Reported by Trent Hills Club