This weekend was another opportunity to experience Rotarians as ambassadors.  Great Falls Rotarians Todd Neighbor and Cari Yturri along with Jim Yturri and Joann Gogo from The Great Falls Chamber were honored to be present at this year’s Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park Assembly held at Glacier Park Lodge in East Glacier and the Hands Across the Border Ceremony at Chief Mountain Border Crossing.   
 
It was the conviction of early park rangers working in Canada’s Waterton Lakes National Park and the United States’ Glacier National Park that the only thing separating the two parks was a political line, that the mountains were continuous, the waters flowed freely from one side to the other, the wildlife knew no difference, so why should we?  In 1931 local Rotarian groups from both sides of the border actively petitioned their local governments who in turn lobbied the two federal governments.  Designating this symbol of friendship was more than a casual agreement; it required that both the U.S. Congress and Canadian Parliament pass laws and a U.S. Presidential Proclamation be signed.  In 1932, the world’s first peace park, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, was established. Today, a simple gesture of peace and goodwill has evolved into a management philosophy and cooperative adventure that benefits the whole ecosystem.  At Waterton-Glacier it means thinking cooperatively and acting collaboratively while maintaining fiscal independence and administrative autonomy. 
At the Assembly held at Glacier Park Lodge we danced the polka, sang each other’s national anthems and heard from several Informative presenters from all over the world about the importance of peace parks to world environmental and ecological efforts.  Many shared what they’re doing to bring peace parks to other countries to expand on peace park principles to promote collaboration between countries (transboundary conservation) as well as to set up safe corridors for migrating animals. 
The Hands Across the Border Ceremony held at the US Canadian border crossing at Port of Chief Mountain, had over 50 participants who listened to Mike Bruised Head from the Blackfoot Tribe sing a blessing and both Superintendents Jeff Mow and Ifan Thomas pledging continued collaboration.  The ceremony finished when all participants with clasped hands recited this Pledge for Peace:   
“In the name of God, we will not take up arms against each other.  We will work for peace, maintain liberty, strive for freedom and demand equal opportunities for all mankind.  May the long existing peace between our two nations stimulate other peoples to follow this example.  We thank thee O God.”