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Impressions of The Agm and My Stay in Kelowna

Editor's Note: Judy Prociuk lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

I left Saskatoon on a beautiful spring day and boarded my plane to Kelowna, British Columbia, for the 2006 AEBC Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Prestige Hotel. After a very brief touch-down at the Vancouver international airport, I was en route to Kelowna, arriving around noon on a Friday. It was a perfect day with the sun shining and the birds singing.

After quickly signing in at the hotel and getting reacquainted with my room-mate, Irene Lambert, we headed off for the afternoon focus group on leadership, facilitated by Colin Cantlie, former head of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.

I suspect that Colin, who was wearing two hearing aids, is an accomplished lip reader since, whenever anyone addressed him, he moved much closer to them. This also enabled those of us with residual vision to see him better. He did an excellent job of facilitating the discussion, saying that we already had good knowledge of the issues.

Colin talked about the character traits of good leaders. They should not, for example, be dictators, or afraid to admit they have made a mistake. Good leaders should also have followers who want to follow them; they must give the followers some cause or reason to belong to an organization.

Colin gave some examples of how things can and do go wrong in organizations. He said many groups fail because, when they try a tactic and it doesn't work, they get bogged down, assign blame and continue in this unproductive circle, instead of switching tactics or focusing on something else. He said everyone must learn to respect each other and not lose their temper. A little humor can go a long way, he said, and you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, to use an old adage.

Participants made many suggestions, and everyone who attended felt the workshop was an extremely worthwhile exercise. The three-hour session went by so quickly that it seemed like only 30 minutes. It is too bad that not all members of AEBC were able to attend.

Later that Friday evening, the Kelowna Chapter hosted a social with a wide selection of locally produced wines and a large assortment of delicious cheeses. Chairperson Chantal Oakes and her Central Okanagan Chapter did themselves proud in organizing the social and the Saturday AGM. Thanks also to the Oakes daughters, Tiffany and Whitney, who were available throughout the weekend to assist us.

On Saturday, May 6, the day began with a continental breakfast and registration continued. At 9 AM the meeting was called to order, and the approximately 44 attendees were introduced. John Rae gave his President's Report (found elsewhere in this publication), highlighting AEBC's activities and challenges over the past year. He also said that 2005 had seen a difficult fundraising climate for non-profit groups, including our organization, and that AEBC will have to pursue some new sources of funding.

At approximately 9:55, we were in for a special treat--we got to hear the Treasurer's Report directly from the auditor since he lives in Kelowna.

Treasurer Denise Sanders introduced John Diduch and promised that everyone could question him at the report's conclusion. The auditor being present to answer questions was especially important in light of today's tough climate for fundraising. John Diduch was reappointed auditor for the coming year.

Following the auditor's report, an hour was set aside to discuss the outcome of the CNIB Needs Study. The question asked was: Where do we go from here? Many very productive suggestions came out of the discussion, and everyone present felt it had been very positive. John mentioned that two or more resolutions associated with this discussion would come to the floor later that day; both resolutions were passed by AEBC's membership.

Just prior to lunch, there was a call for nominations and the following people were nominated as candidates for AEBC's board: Robin East as 1st Vice President; Anthony Tibbs as Treasurer; and Denise Sanders as Member without Portfolio. After lunch, the three nominees had an opportunity to speak for five minutes each.

Then came the resolutions. There was considerable discussion on the resolution that would have inscribed into the bylaws a guarantee of subsidies for Annual General Meetings, as well as increasing the number of proxies an individual could carry from five to seven. The resolution was amended to remove the part alluding to subsidies, but the resolution was defeated after considerable discussion.

The resolution to require members to secure permission from AEBC's President before speaking publicly as a representative of our organization was also defeated. I felt particularly strongly that this latter resolution should not be carried. It was extremely close, with the floor having it winning by one vote, but it was defeated when proxy votes were included.

After the break, there was another call for nominations and, even though additional people were nominated, they declined to run. Robin East, Anthony Tibbs and Denise Sanders were all acclaimed in their respective positions.

John Rae presented Denise Sanders with the annual AEBC CCD Award. Marcia Cummings, AEBC's National Secretary, presented Mike Hambly, President of the Calgary

Chapter, with a beautiful ceramic pot as the first recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award.

After the presentations, we returned to resolutions. Unfortunately, there were more resolutions in the chapter package than time allowed for; only the first 11 were addressed, and the others died on the floor. Of the 11, nine were carried and two were defeated.

To read the text of the resolutions that were adopted at the 2006 AGM, visit: http://www.blindcanadians.ca/governance/resolution_list.php?year=2006 (opens in a new window)

Just before adjournment, the Toronto and Victoria Chapters presented proposals for the 2007 conference. After listening to both presentations, we overwhelmingly chose Victoria over next year's Victoria Day weekend. The meeting adjourned at 5:30 PM on Saturday.

Everyone was free for the evening. Many AGM attendees congregated for a group dinner, and many also tried their luck at the casino with the coupons in their registration packages.

The whole weekend was very enjoyable. The weather cooperated beautifully, the Prestige Hotel was accessible, and the staff was accommodating. Thanks again to the Central Okanagan Chapter for hosting the 2006 AGM!