Being president of the Canadian Association of Social Workers was the best experience of my life as a social worker. During those four years (1997 – 2001), two experiences stand out particularly for me.
The first was the opening ceremonies of the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW) World Conference that was held in Montreal in the summer of 2000. The culmination of years of meetings and of problems to be solved, the opening ceremonies were one of those larger than life moments – a huge conference hall filled to overflowing with social workers from around the world; a spectacular sound/slide presentation put together by our conference planner, Events International; the flags of all the countries of all the delegates attending the conference; amazing entertainment; and a keynote address by Stephen Lewis that was as good as only he can deliver.
My other memory is of travel, both within and outside Canada. During my time as president, I had the opportunity to visit every province as well as the Northwest Territories. I also visited many countries both in my role as CASW president and as a board member of IFSW. As a result of my travel, I was left with the overriding thought that we Canadians have no idea how good we have it socially, economically and environmentally, and that we spend far too little time appreciating and protecting what we have.