Scottsdale and Kingston: in proud support of Sister Cities

Sandy Berg

During his time there was perhaps no American more popular amongst Canadians than General — later President — Dwight David Eisenhower.

He led Canadian troops during the Second World War and earned the respect and admiration of both a Liberal prime minister– Louis St. Laurent – and a Conservative prime minister — John Diefenbaker — whom he worked with while president.

“Your country, my country — each is better and stronger and a more influential nation because each can rely upon every resource of the other in days of crisis,” he told the Canadian Parliament in 1953. “Beyond this each can work and grow and prosper with the other through years of quiet peace.”

With these words in mind it is fitting, today, to recall from Kingston that President Eisenhower founded the Sister Cities program in 1956. Fittingly he believed that people from different cultures could understand and celebrate their differences and in so doing, these new partnerships would reduce the chance of new global conflicts.

Today, the Sister Cities mission of promoting peace through mutual respect and understanding is no less important. Sister Cities International advances their mission by focusing on four areas: cultural exchange, humanitarian assistance, youth and educational programs, and economic and sustainable development.

The internet has made the world a smaller place but personal relationships developed through sister cities are vital and irreplaceable.

Sister Cities International is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization with headquarters in Washington, D.C. The organization serves 545 U.S. sister cities, counties, and states with partnerships in 145 countries, bringing together tens of thousands of citizen volunteer diplomats.

Sister Cities International serves as a hub for best practices in the field of citizen diplomacy and strives to build global cooperation at the municipal level, promote cultural understanding and stimulate economic development.

On May 9, 1994, the cities of Scottsdale, Ariz. and Kingston, Ontario signed a Sister Cities agreement “to share ideas and encourage exchanges of our citizens that will lead to a lasting friendship and promote community development between our people.”

The agreement was signed by past Kingston Mayor Ken Matthews and past Scottsdale Mayor Herbert Drinkwater. The City of Kingston declared May 9, 1994 to be Scottsdale Arizona Day!

Interestingly Mayor Drinkwater grew up in Alexandria Bay, New York and developed a fondness for neighbouring Kingston, Ontario. When he became mayor of Scottsdale, he formalized a partnership between the two cities, both of which have tourism at the core of their economies.

In the late 1990s, past Kingston Mayor Gary Bennett traveled to Scottsdale with a delegation of Kingston citizens with business, political and artistic expertise. Gary Bennett was very impressed with what he saw in Scottsdale.

“There seems to be a very close political/business community relationship. The local government understood their role in supporting business and business-promotion for their city. Business understood their role in creating economic growth and employment growth for everyone. These were lessons that I felt Kingston needed more time to study and learn from.”

That time is now.

Last year, the Scottsdale Sister Cities Association reached out to the City of Kingston to reinvigorate our Sister Cities relationship. The Kingston Chamber of Commerce is pleased to be working with Scottsdale Sister Cities Assoc. President Kathy George and Suzie Austin.

The Scottsdale Sister Cities Assoc. is holding a welcoming reception for past Kingston Chamber President Wendy Bellamy in May.  Kingston looks forward to reciprocating when Scottsdale visits Kingston this summer during Canada’s 150th Anniversary celebrations. There is much to celebrate as Scottsdale and Kingston revitalize their Sister City relationship!

Kingston — the home community of Canada’s first and founding Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald (1815-1891) and the first capital of the United Canadas in the 1840s — is at the heart of Canada’s story — shaping our past and still building our future.

We are therefore proud to reach across the border in friendship and cross-border partnership to the good people of Scottsdale.

Editor’s note: Ms. Berg of Kingston, Ontario, is a former City Councilor and a proud member of the Kingston Chamber of Commerce

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