140 year of Shriners

140 year of Shriners

Thursday, July 25, 2013

City hosting Pacific Northwest Shrine convention

By Zentner, Caroline on July 25, 2013., lethbridge herald
More than 250 Shriners are in town this week for the annual Pacific Northwest Shrine Association convention.
Hosted by the Al Azhar Shrine Centre in Calgary, this year is the first time the convention has been held in Lethbridge. They chose Lethbridge for its proximity to the United States border, hotel availability and reasonable rates, said Gord Berard, potentate (CEO) of Al Azhar.
Shriners from the 18 centres in the Pacific Northwest Shrine Association, which includes Washington, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, Alaska, Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alberta, bring their spouses and get together both for fun and to talk about their reason for being – the 22 hospitals for children they own and operate.
The convention program includes mixers, golfing and a visit to the Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden before the group gets down to business with competitions on Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. Shriners can take part in several competitions, including oriental band, clowns, motorized vehicles and mounted horse patrols, all of which will be held on the Exhibition grounds.
A mini-parade with participation from all the Shrine temples at the convention is scheduled for Saturday at 12:30 p.m., right after the Farmers’ Market closes. The parade will leave from the Grandstand area of Exhibition Park and make its way up Parkside Drive South to the main entrance of Exhibition Park.
The public is welcome to attend the competitions and the mini-parade.
“The more the merrier. They are welcome to come over Friday and Saturday,” Berard said.
The newly minted Imperial Potentate, John Cinotto, from Indiana and Jim Cain Sr., Imperial Oriental Guide, from Tennessee will also attend the convention.
The Shriners oversee 20 hospitals for children in the United States and one each in Mexico and Canada.
“We spend about $750 million, $800 million a year owning and operating these hospitals,” Berard said.
Care is offered to children at no cost and Shriner’s clubs fundraise to provide the money for a parent to accompany their child. A new hospital is being built in Montreal in conjunction with McGill University.
“We’ll pay to send children to Montreal from Alberta or B.C. or anywhere. WestJet’s been a very, very good sponsor in helping us providing tickets for our children and parents,” Berard said, adding children will be sent to the hospital that can provide them with the best care, regardless of where it’s located.
Lethbridge has a Shrine club and North America is home to about 300,000 Shrine members.
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