Dr. Bonnie Henry is “very grateful” for recognition received from the Royal City Rotary Club.
On June 17, Royal City Rotary inducted B.C.’s provincial health officer as an honorary Rotarian and presented her with a Paul Harris Fellow award on behalf of the club. Lizz Kelly, president-elect of the Royal City Rotary Club, presented Henry with the honour, while members of Royal City Rotary and the Rotary Club of New Westminster attended the online presentation.
“Your measures have saved countless lives in our province and been recognized internationally as a model for effective pandemic control,” Kelly said. “When you first spoke the words, ‘Now is the time to be kind, be calm and be safe,’ you showed your compassion for what the people of B.C. face with COVID-19. You inspired us with your gentleness. Your calm voice of reason reassures us that we were going to get through this together. And you instilled a confidence in our citizens that we could place our trust in your strategies.”
Kelly said the Royal City Rotary Club selected Henry to receive this recognition because her work exemplifies the humanitarian objectives of The Rotary Foundation. Named after Rotary’s founder, the Paul Harris Fellow acknowledges the contributions of Rotary members and supporters of The Rotary Foundation who have brought positive change to communities in need.
Eradicating polio has been a major mission of Rotary – a mission shared by Henry.
“Dr. Henry, your own personal experience as part of the WHO/UNICEF polio-eradication program in Pakistan demonstrates you share Rotary’s mission to eliminate the polio virus from the world,” Kelly said. “This is something Rotary and its partners have been working on since 1985.”
Henry told local Rotarians she is touched and honoured to receive the Paul Harris Fellow.
“I am well aware that it was Rotary Canada that started the polio-eradication program and was instrumental in raising the money to start it in Latin America and South America, and we were actually able to control polio there, and the impetus for the partnership with the WHO around the eradication program,” she said of the World Health Organization.
Henry said she is “so appreciative” of the work that Rotary has done in support of polio eradication.
“Anything that we can do, particularly to improve the lives of children who suffer from polio and never gain back life in many parts of the world when they have had it,” she said. “We have the means to do it and we need to still remain committed to it.”
Henry, who has attended more than 100 press briefings since the COVID-19 pandemic began in B.C., took time to field a few questions from local Rotarians. These included what she did on her first day off after 56 days (cleaned her house and cooked), the potential for writing a book on her COVID-19 experience (it’s a possibility) and chances for a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall.
Looking around the world, Henry said New Zealand had a “really good handle on it” and had dropped down to zero cases of COVID-19 – only to recently see two new recorded cases. She said B.C. is working on keeping the number of cases “low and slow” and to prevent any rapid spread of COVID-19.
“When the virus is anywhere, we really are at risk everywhere,” she said. “We really have to keep up some of the basic things until we have a vaccine. … We cannot let our guard down.”