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Community Activism at Work in Ottawa
My full time job this summer is
organizing a big event in Ottawa City Hall – the 11th annual Friends
for Peace Day. This has been my job for over a decade. This year the event is on
Saturday, September 28, 2013, from 11am to 5pm.
It all started on a bitterly cold winter
evening ten years ago, as the Iraq war loomed. I received notice that a Peace
Song Circle was happening on Parliament Hill. So I went, accompanied by my wife
Carolyn and our dog. No-one else turned up. I remarked to Carolyn, "This is a
good idea – it just needs to be organized." She replied, "Let's do it." And so we did.
It was Pine Gate Sangha that created the nucleus for Friends for Peace Canada. It quickly grew to a loose
coalition of 50 organizations and we asked them to begin the peace process first
of all with themselves, then to the community and the world. Our mandate
evolved so that we gave annual Peace Grants to local and international
organizations making a real difference, as well as working in concert with
other coalitions in the city for environmental and social justice issues. I
also decided at that time to concentrate my energy and efforts locally, feeling
that these efforts could infuse global networks from the epicentre created
there. I had received many invitations to be a global speaker and teacher, yet
felt that a concentration on my home city of Ottawa was the primary focus. I
responded to the many international invitations with a gracious decline. Though
my ego was certainly miffed by the prospect of lost opportunities, I was
inspired to devote my time and energy to moving things just a little bit in my
city, so that good things began to happen spontaneously. As I soon discovered, there
were many good friends across the city more than happy to make this possible...
Ottawa Valley region performers and choirs are adopting an alternative approach to promoting peace. On Saturday, May 14, 2003, between 10am and 12 noon they will celebrate peace through song. Attendees of the event will unite as one voice to send their message for peace by participating in a Peace Song Circle on Parliament Hill. Groups performing at the two-hour long event will include: Mennonite Church Choir, Ottawa Folklore Choir, Ottawa Community Gospel Choir, Montessori School Choir, Sacred Dance Guild and Dances for Universal Peace. Local singers and musicians will also perform for us on this special day. By our participation we keep alive Canada's role as a peacekeeping nation.
The motto for the event sums up what we are asking of participants and of those in attendance -- Sing for Peace, Stand for Peace, Be Peace. We believe that the only way to achieve lasting peace is by fostering it within and by re-evaluating the choices we make daily in our lives. The objectives of Friends for Peace are to promote, strengthen and maintain peace and justice within our communities and the environment.
Friends for Peace will achieve its goals by:
(1) supporting specific projects that seek to fulfil our objectives, and to bring about peace through eradicating injustice;
(2) engaging in outreach programs in schools, churches, environmental and other similar groups to educate and expand awareness and acceptance of one another, thereby uniting people from all walks of life regardless of age, political affiliation, faith or ethnic background;
3) support the creation of infrastructure in our institutions so that peace processes are valued and legitimized; and
(4) building spiritual communities and encouraging all to embrace the pursuit of inner peace through meditation and mindful living as an alternative to conflict.
Building on the positive momentum generated by recent assemblies for peace that have been staged in the Ottawa region, Friends for Peace, a coalition of meditation, activist, environmental and peace groups, have organized the Peace Song Circle as a call to maintain peace and justice within our communities and the environment. The event is created around music because of its universal strength and ability to create a positive energy through which to communicate the message of peace. The Peace Song Circle encourages all to come out on this day and celebrate peace together.
For more information, please contact: Ian Prattis, Peace Song Circle Coordinator 613 726-0881