D'Arcy Lunn is The End of Polio Campaign Manager for Canada
It has been my full-time passion and mission, since arriving in Canada three months ago, to build public support for polio eradication among Canadians from all walks of life. I started with very little in the way of networks or contacts, in a country I hadn’t visited in more than six years, and in cities in which I had never laid foot.
The tools at my disposal were a couple of contacts in Ottawa and Toronto, a bunch of old friends from previous travels, an engaging presentation and the desire to see a polio-free world!
Like many grassroots movements, this one started with emails – lots of them – trying to make contact with anyone involved in the political, health, aid, development, advocacy and community engagement sectors. Over time, through engaging with Rotary International and RESULTS Canada, along with some very generous friends (and friends of friends), I was able to start spreading The End of Polio campaign.
Since arriving in Quebec City on the 20th of May, I have travelled through Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Kamloops, Vancouver, Victoria, back to Toronto and all around. In that time I have given 60 presentations to 2300 people at a mix of schools, Rotary clubs, organizations and community groups – each learning about the global eradication of polio and how to be a part of the movement to see it gone for everyone, everywhere and forever.
Over the past couple of months, I have been incredibly inspired by what this campaign has been able to achieve, thanks to incredible volunteers and people standing up and taking notice of this issue. The End of Polio campaign in Canada has grown far beyond the efforts of just one person to involve passionate advocates all over this country. The power of people to connect is clear when you look at what we have done so far. We have attracted all kinds of print and television media, linked with key organisations and we’ve spread our message to schools, community groups (including Rotary clubs) and youth camps, as well as people on the street. Our supporters now include MPs from all sides of the political spectrum, a former Prime Minister, Government agencies, City Councillors, medical professionals and many more who are active in the movement to eradicate polio.
We are all very different, with different experiences and reasons to care, but the one thing that unites us is our passion for ending this debilitating disease.
This groundswell of public support has a point and a purpose – to convince world leaders that they should give the Global Polio Eradication Initiative their full backing. And this September presents the perfect opportunity for them to do so. The United Nations Secretary General is hosting an important event on polio eradication while world leaders are in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly. We are working hard to convince Prime Minister Stephen Harper to attend this event, while other grassroots advocates in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the United States work to engage their leaders.
I am continuously amazed by the generosity, commitment and efforts of those I meet along this advocacy journey throughout Canada. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of and I’m looking forward to the next few weeks leading up to the United Nations General Assembly!