Mr. Mayor and Councillors –
Thank you for this opportunity to address you this evening about PeaceQuest and its inauguration on September 21 at City Park, to which you are all invited.
I know all of you have participated in Remembrance Day ceremonies to honour those who have served our country and to pay respects for lives lost in war.
November 11th is always a sad day. More often than not in keeping with the somber tone, it is cold and rainy. It is a day set aside for us to remember. We must always remember. We must also always work so that war does not happen again.
We honour those lost lives and our veterans best when we continue the search for peace and to work for peace –in our own little worlds, and in this enchanting big world of ours.
PeaceQuest is a local group working on many different projects, through education, culture, faith and policy, to engage everyone in a discussion about peace.
We take peace for granted in our part of the world. We have been privileged to have escaped war here. And with privilege always comes responsibility. PeaceQuest takes its responsibility seriously.
We would like to thank you, and congratulate you, Mayor Gerretsen and Council, for passing a proclamation in July declaring September 21st, which is the United Nations International Day of Peace, to be Peace Day here in Kingston.
And as part of that proclamation you encourage all of us to do something positive to promote peaceful living here, in our community, and abroad.
“The citizens of Kingston are all too familiar with the cost of war and cherish the value of living in peace.”
We would also like to thank city staff who has been most helpful as we organize Peace Day – Neil Unsworth, Manager of Parks Development; Wally Ferris, Director of Recreation and Leisure Services with whom we initially met; Damon Wells, Director of Public Works, Chanda Theng, Planner for Parks and Development and Lanie Hurdle, Commissioner of Community Services – all who helped with the Peace Trees – the 100 year old oak that was alive at the beginning of WWI and the new young sapling that we will plant on the 21st, as well their assistance with the plaque designation, especially when we encountered some difficulties.
We all seem to enjoy anniversaries. Next year we are approaching a very significant one – the anniversary of the start of World War I which was called the War to end all Wars. But, sadly it didn’t, did it?
Throughout the years of PeaceQuest from 2014-2018, when Canada will be remembering this tragic world war, it is our desire and hope to help develop not a culture of violent confrontation and conflict, but a culture of encounter and respectful dialogue attempting to respect various points of view.
I’ve come to trust divergent opinions as powerful pathways to greater clarity. This is the only way to lasting peace.
Canada has a tradition of peacemaking and reconciliation. PeaceQuest will build on this venerable tradition by our White Square initiative. I wear a square.
*Our symbol is a simple white square, easy to make. White is the colour of so many hundreds of thousands of grave marker in wartime cemeteries in France and Belgium. Our white square is part of our effort to start conversations about peace.
We’ll be inviting people to complete the following sentence: “In our quest for peace in the world, we need to….”
Mayor Gerretsen, if you don’t mind, I would like to ask you to complete the PeaceQuest sentence so that I can show you and Council how this part of our project works. How would you complete the sentence, ‘In our quest for peace in the world, we need to…….’”
Again, we’d like to congratulate Council for supporting PeaceQuest with the Proclamation. It’s encouraging to see Kingston taking a leadership role. We are a national centre for post-secondary education. CFB Kingston is an important military base. And we’re the home of Canada’s only national university that’s a centre for military education, RMC.
As you state in your proclamation, “The citizens of Kingston are all too familiar with the cost of war and cherish the value of living in peace.”
A postscript on PeaceQuest’s invitation to those who are members of and support the military in Canada:
PeaceQuest is just launching publicly.
It is intended to be fully inclusive and takes into account that Kingston is a military city and that the children of military families go to schools where PeaceQuest will be introduced.
We invite the participation of all, to dialogue, discuss and debate, especially during the next four years, the anniversary of the Great War.
We hope military people consider themselves welcome at all PeaceQuest events and in PeaceQuest itself.