by Judi Wyatt, Coordinator
What a wonderful PeaceQuest launch we enjoyed on Saturday, September 21!
100 people gathered in Kingston’s City Park at 4 p.m. despite the all-day downpour.
Bill Penner, PeaceQuest’s Master of Ceremonies, welcomed the crowd and explained that this event is the official launch of PeaceQuest. Paul Cox, dressed in his regimental costume, read the City of Kingston’s proclamation that this day is officially declared a Day of Peace and that all Kingstonians are encouraged to actively promote peace. The Open Voices choir sang three beautiful songs and Sr. Peggy Flanagan read her poem, The Peace Tree Speaks.
A highlight of the event occurred when Sr. Pauline Lally unveiled our monument which reads, “Grieving the tragedy that is war / Committed to the promise of peace”. This stone is placed at the base of an ancient oak tree, alive at the time of WWI, at the corner of Barrie and Stuart Streets.
Laurel Claus-Johnson’s Cree blessing and her personal message about the beauty of the rain was very powerful and reminded us all of our close connection to the environment.
Diane Fitsell’s white square peace flags hung between the trees on the avenue towards the newly planted oak. Emblazoned with definitions, and comments about peace, many generated by participants in our white square activities, sparked sometimes intense conversation.
At the conclusion of the ceremony our guests were invited to walk the 200 paces to the newly-planted young Peace Tree and ceremonially water it by sprinkling drops of from a green sprig. We were so pleased to see almost all in attendance doing this, despite the pouring rain.
During the ceremony at the old oak and the gathering at the newly planted oak, we distributed white squares. We explained that the white square is the symbol of PeaceQuest and that the wearer would have the opportunity to talk about peace and PeaceQuest to those who ask about the pin.
Videographers, a photographer and a professional writer recorded impressions of the day and we look forward to sharing them.