The Last Friends for Peace Day
by Ian Prattis
This September, Friends for Peace Day was held in Jean Pigott Place, inside Ottawa City Hall. And what an event took place! Onstage, the mellow harmonies from The Valley Men choir set the scene, followed by Romy Mounzer-Ottawa's answer to Whitney Houston.
GP Bantug from Faith & the Common Good, and Holly Jones from PERC, tabling at the Friends for Peace Day in September 2015. Photo courtesy of Ed Simon.
Lalith Gunaratne spoke eloquently about reconciliation in Sri Lanka, a model to break down barriers and cross bridges of hatred and separation. The string ensemble from OrKidstra dazzled, as did the Awards and Peace Grant ceremony that honoured the work of Jurme Wangda for Tibetan Resettlement and Coleen Scott for providing education and opportunity for the Karen people in Thailand.
The Circle of All Nations was a reality, represented by cultures, faiths and languages from across the planet. Kirtan from the Bhakti Connection, exquisite harp from Lucille Hildescheim and the Diversity of Color Miramba band brought the music and dance of Zimbabwe to close this year's event at Ottawa City Hall.
It was a fabulous day with the best ever performances. Everything excelled. We honoured our elders and the many communities and the terrific volunteers who make it all possible. The support that poured in was unbelievable. Donations to the Servery and Silent Auction were heartfelt. Folk left full, not just with great food and bargains, but also with a feeling that "YES" we can do it.
Tabling at Friends for Peace Day. Photo courtesy of Yasmin Asgarali.
Now, Friends for Peace is moving into a different focus. Rather than the Friends for Peace Day, which takes up a lot of time and energy, we have decided to focus on specific projects with other organizations.
For instance, our first collaboration is with two church groups who are organizing events and awareness to bring Syrian refugee families to Ottawa. The organizers are committed to making change.
While the Friends for Peace Day provided great entertainment and brought community together, I would like to see more of a knock-on effect. So we are entering a new phase, which I think will be exciting and more effective. Stay tuned.
Ian Prattis is the organizer of Friends for Peace Day.
The PERC thanks the above organizations for their support.
Thank you to Sustainable Eastern Ontario, the Community Foundation of Ottawa, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation for sponsoring the Winter 2015-2016 edition of the PEN.