EnviroCentre Edition - Spring 2016
Scroll down for highlights!
Catherine Mageau-Walker (SustainLowertown Coordinator), Annie Mercier (LCRC Community Developper), Mathieu Fleury and Angela Palma Herriot at a Good Food Market in Lowertown.
Photo courtesy of SustainLowertown
Ottawa Peace Festival: Celebrating Peace and Justice
Ottawa's recent Peace Festival marked the UN International Days of Peace (September 21) and Nonviolence (October 2).
What started out as a small gathering has become a 12-day celebration of peace and justice, now in its fifth year. This year's program involved 25 peace groups and 200 volunteers.
Festival panels and films examined topics such as the nuclear threat, United Nations (UN) peacekeeping, religious traditions and peace, dissent in democracy, the nonviolent Arab awakening, and the triumph of the creative life.
Highlights included a peace walk, art exhibits, concerts and a gala at City Hall, plus the unveiling of a statue of Mahatma Gandhi.
Left to right: Bart Gerald and Julie Maas (celebrated artists and creators of peace and human rights posters) with Bill Bhaneja. With several posters in the background.
Photo: Koozma J. Tarasoff.
Victoria Island, in the Ottawa River near downtown, was the setting for a memorable opening by Native elders. The ceremony commemorated the work of William Commanda, a 97-year-old Algonquin Elder who recently died.
Sitting in a circle on the grass, participants performed sacred rituals. An eagle feather ceremony allowed participants to share an oral message when they held the big feathers.
This year's Festival exhibitions included Mahatma Gandhi's Legacy of Nonviolence, an exhibition at the Ottawa Public Library and Carleton University. This showcased the work of Suraj Sadan.
Each of Sadan's paintings had companion text, such as: "There is sufficiency in the world for man's need, but not for man's greed."
Poet and Artist: 30 Posters from the Heart showcased decades of human rights posters selected by Bart Gerald and Julie Maas.
Derek James' People of the America Forest Scroll displayed words and sketches written on a cloth scroll. It was 318 feet long and weighed 150 pounds. Messages recorded on the scroll by the public include, "Small steps will make a big difference," and "You have the power to stand up."
The October 2 celebration attracted some 250 participants. It began with Pipers for Peace and other performances, including a Laughter Yoga session with Sophie Terrace.
At noon, a parade of flag-bearers arrived. After lunch, the OrKidstra entertained the audience. This musical group, set up by the Leading Note Foundation, engages children from under-served communities.
Next, Mayor Jim Watson presented peace awards to Jean Beliveau (world walker for peace, <www.wwwalk.org>), Tina Fedeski (music director, OrKidstra), Bill Bhaneja (co-chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative, Ottawa chapter), and Peter Stockdale (peace activist with City of Peace Ottawa).
"There is a deep alienation here and elsewhere between those who are richer and whiter, those who feel safer being separated from other people by being in the country, suburbs, or in their own [places of worship]," Stockdale said in his speech, "and those who are poorer, less white and embrace being together with others. We must bridge this divide to make Ottawa a city of peace that works."
To conclude the day's events, Mahatma Gandhi's life-size statue was unveiled at Carleton University on what would have been his 142nd birthday.
Carleton University Humanities professor Noel Salmond warned not to worship Gandhi as a person. Gandhi himself cautioned "not to treat his image as an icon, but to be challenged by his ideas," Salmond said.
"We need to change the way we talk about the economic framework," Theresa Dunn, chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative (<www.departmentofpeace.ca>), told a Peace Festival panel. "We have skilled people around the world that can help us create a sustainable economy not based on the weapons industry and war."
"The change has to start with ourselves," Dunn said.
Or, as Mahatma Gandhi once stated: "A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith to their mission can alter the course of history."
Koozma J. Tarasoff is a long-time peace activist living in Ottawa.
PERC thanks the above organizations for their support.
Thank you to Envirocentre for sponsoring the Spring 2016 edition of the PEN.