Friday, 18 November 2011

Peace Festivals in Ottawa, Canada

Talk and Slide Show to the Kiwanis Club of Sage
Ottawa, Ontario, November 16, 2011 


Kiwanis is a global co-educational service club organization (mostly in North America and Europe) of volunteers dedicated 'to changing the world one child and one community at a time'. The organization was founded in 1915 and today is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. Current membership is 240,000 in 7,700 clubs in 80 nations. The average age is 57, with men making up 74% and women 26%. On November 16th I was invited to speak to the Kiwanis Club of Sage in Ottawa, which is an all-men club with an average age of 80. The Club has 53 members. Its president A. W. ('Tony') Myres welcomed me and my wife Kristina to the meeting and later Hank Lagasse (President Elect) introduced me. The Notes for my talk follow, after which I presented a slide show of some 400 images of the 5th Annual Ottawa Peace Festival held September 21 to October 2nd. A Question period followed.

The Talk

Good morning everybody!

I understand that the Kiwanis founders years back took 'We build' as the original motto of the Club, which today has been translated to 'Serving the Children of the World' through a variety of local programs including nurturing literacy, music festivals, student-led projects, Air Cadets and Remembrance Day services, supporting Salvation Army, and hands-on assistance to those in need.

In a real sense, your motto is similar to the Peace Festival theme. As a well-known sign says 'We are building peace for children and other living things'. For all of us, of course, peace and justice have no boundaries — whether for children or adults. We are all one in this world.

The very interesting annual Ottawa Peace Festivals have taken place in Canada's capital city since 2007, with the 5th one being a 12-day festival earlier this Fall. The dates form book ends of two UN International Days of Peace (Sept. 21) and Nonviolence (October 2nd).

As photographer, writer, and peace activist, I have had the honour of attending the five festivals and have visually recorded them for all to see on links found on my website, including links for images on Picasa. Before showing you a slide presentation of the latest Festival on my iPhoto Mac program, I would like to briefly give you a flavour of some of the wisdom of this unique citizens'-based cooperative effort which this year hosted 25 events by 19 civil society organizations and participants. So far this was the largest Ottawa Peace Festival.

The key facilitators have been Dr. Bill Bhaneja (retired foreign service officer, political scientist, member of Pugwash Group, Gandhi scholar and Co-Chair of the Canadian Department of Peace Initiative) and Dr. Peter Stockdale (founding chair of the City of Peace Ottawa).

The idea came to Dr. Bhaneja at one of the global summits of DoP when a delegate from the US mentioned that they were thinking of 11 days of peace activities leading to 9/11. 'We wondered', said Dr. Bhaneja, 'if we could do something similar in a Canadian setting using the two universal UN resolutions. The resolutions define the spirit of CDP/DoP mandate of working towards a Culture of Peace and Nonviolent Resolution of Conflicts.'

The effort coincided with the work of a local civil society group, the City of Peace Ottawa, whose mission statement was: 'To develop Ottawa as a model city of peace, and be a model for other peaceful cities, promoting social harmony and inclusiveness.' And so the Ottawa Peace Festival was born around the theme of 'Peace, Unity, and Harmony'. (See Dr. Bhaneja's talk of September 17, 2011 on Peace Festivals and Cities of Peace)


I would like to briefly share with you some of the wisdom of the past festivals. Click here for the text of my presentation: Peace Festivals in Ottawa, Canada, 2007 - 2011, with links to stories and images of each event. Also see: Ottawa Peace Festivals : Archive & History.

Slide Show

Now to my 383 photos of the 5th Annual Ottawa Peace Festival 2011. Enjoy.

Questions Asked

1. 'What is the inner threat to Canada?'
The questioner wanted to know if it was some nation, or what? He suggested that it was 'a clash of religions' between Muslims and Christians. This is an answer that needs to be explored further. What do readers think?

2. 'Should governments be involved in the peace movement?'
Yes. I replied that while individual action and non-government organizations are important in peace making, ultimately we need to involve our government with its huge resources.

3. 'Does the Department of Peace Initiative support the Wall Street movement?'
Yes. As a non-government group, I said, the Initiative supports the protesters around the world in seeking peaceful change towards more equality, justice and a greater voice in our society. DoP members believe that a peace structure in government will go a long ways to promoting the transition of the economy from a war-based one to a peace-based one. This path towards a culture of peace, it is expected, would greatly benefit the economic, social, and psychological status of the 99 percent of the population that the Wall Street movement is working to improve.

4. 'Besides Ottawa, do you have other Chapters across Canada?'

Yes indeed. There are 12 chapters across Canada from coast to coast. The Department of Peace movement is now active in 30 countries. Since 2006, three countries have established Peace Departments: Costa Rica, Nepal and Solomon Islands.

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Koozma. Kiwanis is a significant organization with a long and admired history. Their awareness and better understanding of all that you presented will, I'm sure, bear fruit.