First Anniversary

August 5, 2005

Fellow members,

As is customary for many organizations, we must from time-to-time, sit back and analyze our progress as an association and try to evaluate whether we are hitting our mark as planned. Are we still relevant? Is there still a need? Have we fulfilled our mandate? Where can we improve? I suppose the first anniversary of SCOUT eh! is as good a time as any for this introspection.

On our first anniversary of August 4th, I was in Ottawa visiting our new National War Museum. What a grand edifice it is. I am happy to say that we have done our veterans, and those who will never return, proud. It is a soaring building of hope. It is a real testament to the feats and bravery of so many ordinary people who did such extraordinary things.

Oddly enough, while I was there, I was contemplating what I could write about our first anniversary. It struck me that we will never see another generation like our fathers and grandfathers, who willingly heeded the call of King and country, to defend the rights and freedoms we all enjoy today. These ordinary men and women who went to war, fought and defeated oppression, saw horrific things, returned and worked to build families, businesses, communities, and Canada. Generations who were so unselfish, showing courage and determination while risking their lives for the future.

Some may say that the governments of the day manipulated them for their own ends. This is partly true in my estimation. However those were simpler times with simpler demands. It was a man's duty to serve in his country's defence and his duty to fight against tyranny and aggression. These ordinary citizens are my heroes. No multi-millionaire athletes or media stars are in my collection of cards.

It occurred to me that standing up for what you believe in is an inalienable human right. The protection of that right has cost thousands of people their lives. It is a duty for all citizens to stand up for their beliefs, not just because it needs doing, but because we owe it to the many who served in the past.

While I would never equate our efforts with those who fought and died overseas, I believe there are some parallels in purpose between our veterans and us. We of SCOUT eh! are standing up. We have spent a year challenging the status quo, asking difficult questions, demanding opportunities for negotiations and mediation and basically stepping into the breech to do the things that need doing.

What started as a rag-tag band of Scouters who were truly voices in the wilderness has developed into a body of people who are well organized, well spoken and for the most part, well respected by those who were our detractors a year ago.

How did that happen? Most importantly it happened through our own democracy. Our firm belief that all good things will grow and prosper with a person's inalienable right to vote and voice their own opinion. Our actions have spoken loudly.

Through the efforts of your executive, your provincial reps, our CAMP eh!s, our conferences, workshops, letter writing campaigns and the odd well placed phone call or e-mail, we have risen to a place where we are now a force to be recognized in Canadian Scouting. That, in such a short time, we have achieved this much is, at least to me, almost unbelievable. It is an awesome responsibility we hold. We will continue to work for positive constructive change in all areas of Scouts Canada.

In the last year we have made progress on many fronts.

We have continued to challenge Scouts Canada on democracy. So much so that we now have a place at the table in order to help them address their "democratic deficit." Your executive will be working extremely hard on your behalf to ensure that democracy will remain on the agenda until such time as the political will of Scouts Canada reflects the same values.

We have challenged the sale of properties. To that end we have been a resource for areas and groups organizing to protect their local properties. We have had modest success in helping to save some but have lost on others. When all is said and done it is the local groups who must stand and speak up. SCOUT eh! will continue to stand and be a resource for anyone in need.

Through our membership we have stimulated feedback on a number of National issues, most notably the Strategic Planning documents. These documents have been drastically changed in order to reflect some of the ideas, suggestions and pressures brought to bear by you, the SCOUT eh! members.

We have shone lights into previously unquestioned areas in regards to the financial affairs of our National organization with our "Crossroads" documents. Many questions have been asked, many have remained unanswered. We will continue to press for complete transparency and a clear and concise accounting of all monies. Look for "Crossroads III" to be posted soon with a look at the third quarter of Scouts Canada's fiscal year.

Our work is nowhere near done. There is much to do and we still need your help and support to do it. To this end I would like to ask each and every one of you to re-register with Scouts Canada this year. This is important for a number of reasons.

  1. It keeps our membership strong. As you are no doubt aware we have three types of memberships. Regular members are registered with Scouts Canada and as such have a vote on all issues within SCOUT eh! and all elections. Associate members are ex-Scouts Canada members who still want to support SCOUT eh! Friends are interested parties in other countries and/or associations. It is extremely important for our future to continue to have a strong, growing and stable membership.
  2. We would love to have 100% retention of members in our association. Why? So we may show Scouts Canada that we are not going away, that our membership is dedicated to positive change and future growth and that we are putting our money where our mouth is. Imagine 100% retention. Something that Scouts Canada hasn't seen in decades.
  3. To ensure our message can continue to spread. We need your voices to talk about the issues in your own back yard. You know who the players are in your Groups, Areas etc. By having a large and growing membership we take away one thing, fear. If so many are ready to stand up and being counted then the fear factor for people who are not yet members, ceases to be an issue. You all have already done the hard part by standing up. Getting more committed Scouters to join us should be easy.
  4. Because we represent Scouting right across Canada you are the people who take the pulse of the organization in your Province, Area or Group. This information flow is vital to our success. We need you all to continue as Full Members and to help us grow to a thousand members by this time next year. That is our goal. As of today we are 599 full members, 31 Associates and 14 Friends. We can achieve this membership goal if we each recruit 1 new member. Go out and beat the bushes!

We recognize that some of you will not be renewing your Scouts Canada registration for 2005/2006. We understand that some of you will not be back because of changes in personal commitments and for other reasons. We only ask that you search your heart once again before making your decision. With all of your help we have become a truly powerful lobby group for positive change. If, after you have finished your soul searching, your decision stays the same then we thank you for your support as full members in the past and wish you Godspeed in your new endeavours. We would like you to let us know if you do not re-register so that we can change your membership status from Member to Associate. Thank you all in advance.

2006 will be a watershed year for Scouts Canada and for SCOUT eh! Scouts Canada is at a crossroads. SCOUT eh! is committed to keeping it on the right track. We have only spoken of a few initiatives in this letter. There is far more that we have not talked about. Many irons are in the campfire and many of them are heating up.

On behalf of myself, Ted, Liam, and the provincial reps, let me first say it has been an honour to work with you. I have met hundreds of Scouters this past year. I have made friends for life. You have allowed me to truly practice Scouting as it should be practised. For that I thank you all. It is a privilege to serve.

Yours in True Scouting friendship,

Mike "Manitou" Reid
Chair, SCOUT eh!