Peace Days committee members have agreed to collaborate with and facilitate and post on the Peace Days website Peace Quest events autonomously organized by Peace Quest in Rotary District 5550 (Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northwestern Ontario).
Peace Days is one of the 5 initiatives of Rotary District 5550 World Peace Partners. Peace Days 2014 was the best ever. This 5th annual festival of peace and compassion started at the Forks with a sunrise ceremony led by Aboriginal elders September 11 and ended on the International Day of Peace September 21 at the Forks Main Stage. Day 1, after the Indigenous Pipe Ceremony on Treaty 1 territory, included the raising of the Peace Days Flag at City Hall. For the full video of the flag raising and speech of Co-Chair and Co-Founder David G. Newman, Q.C. go to http://youtube.com/watch?v=SaahXKMKm98.
There were over 30 events this year hosted by participating venues. These included the Manito Ahbee Festival and the Winnipeg part of the International Compassion Games, which were new additions involving multiple events. A Proclamation proclaiming Peace Days 2014 was signed by the Minister of Education and announced at the Forks Main Stage on opening day in front of 1200 elementary school students from over 12 schools – some rural. The students exchanged messages of peace with a student from another school and two students released peace doves (homing pigeons). Both arrived home safely.
Rotarians from Winnipeg hosted a showing of the renowned documentary “Girls Rising” at the Winnipeg Art Gallery auditorium and then emceed a roving mic dialogue involving the audience. The Rotary Clubs of Gimli, Assiniboine, St. Boniface, St. Vital and our club all had Peace Days events they created. Al Jubitz from Portland, Oregon spoke to our club on September 17th about the Rotary Action Group for Peace, which he founded in 2012. Next year we hope many more Clubs organize events.
Our adventures in Global Citizenship Peace Award Recipient Rebecca Deng and other South Sudanese women led an evening of dialogue about female empowerment. Rebecca spoke about her July 2014 trip to her homeland and reported on the conflict and atrocities raging there. Dr. Ann Fritsch from the St. Paul Rotary Club, U.S.A., spoke about the Non-Violent Peace Force in South Sudan and the challenges of women there. This was followed by a discussion amongst women and men. Al Jubitz and the writer and other Rotarians were present to experience this important breakthrough made possible by the leadership of David Atem, Marilou McPhedran and Kirby Bogardt and Megan Prydun both UNESCO Youth Advisory Group members. Al Jubitz, Tom Williams, a Rotarian from Louisville, Kentucky, and several Winnipeggers along with the writer attended an Aboriginal Sharing Circle at Onashowewin, Restorative Justice Centre.
Worship services, by multiple faith groups and Buddhist and Falun Gong organizations held events all focused on peace, human rights and understanding. They attracted many wishing to experience other traditions, cultures and faiths.
Policing for Peace shed new light on the role of our Winnipeg Police Service and RCMP as peace builders. Young and old benefitted from their presentations and active discussion afterwards.
Over 500 people attended the Amanda Lindhout evening on the topic of forgiveness. Amanda, a Canadian journalist, had been held captive in Somalia and forgave her captors. She led a workshop the next morning. These events were hosted by The Catholic Health Corporation of Manitoba and the Cathedrale de St. Boniface.
For the fourth time in the last 5 years, the Winnipeg Foundation was the major sponsor. The organizing committee of Peace Days, co-chaired by the writer and non-Rotarian Gary Senft, was made up of a core group of 15 people including Estelle Lamoureux and Patricia Kumbakisaka of our Club. All members, Rotarian and non-Rotarian alike, were committed to the purpose of advancing understanding, goodwill, peace and compassionate action using means expressed in the Rotary 4-Way Test. We are grateful to all sponsors, many who donated through our Winnipeg Rotary Club Community Service Fund, Inc.
Stay tuned for events during the next 12 months in what is now branded as Peace Days 365. Also, Peace Days 2015 will include the Rotary Goodwill Meeting.
David G. Newman, Q.C.