Peace Day 2007 - Finding our Way Home to Peace
On September 21, 2007 an inspiring shared event - Finding Our Way Home to Peace - occurred along the Eau Claire river pathway. The Calgary Community Peace Pole Committee and Homeless Awareness Calgary celebrated the International Day of Peace while promoting awareness about homelessness and poverty issues within the Aboriginal Community.
Finding Our Way Home is an annual week-long event hosted by the Aboriginal community through Homeless Awareness Calgary. They partnered with the Peace Pole project to promote the link between peace and the need for social justice for many individuals and families in Calgary.
The Calgary Community Peace Pole committee is a group of over thirty ethnic, religious and community groups who are coming together to create a monument for peace along the river pathway. They chose September 21st, the UN International Day of Peace, to come together to honour the day and to gather enthusiasm about the project. They hope to install the peace pole monument in one year on September 21st, 2008.
Finding Our Way Home to Peace started with a walk for peace at the Eau Claire Plaza where colourful flags, peace balloons, Ald. Joe Ceci, Ald. Druh Farrell, and people who have worked for peace in Calgary for 25 years led the way. The procession was joined by a large group of Sikh men, a half dozen junior high students as well as MLA's David Swann and Harry Chase. Representatives from faith groups including Muslims, Jews, Unitarians, Community of Christ members, United Church members and ministers, Baha'I members, and members of Trinity Lutheran whose historic church sits less than one block from where the festivities took place.
Meanwhile preparations were made to welcome the walk which included raising a tipi, preparing food for the free BBQ and setting out displays from groups doing work in raising awareness about the environment, bullying, resolving conflict the middle east and other peace-related issues.
The event opened with a minute of silence for peace in solidarity with communities all over the world. Cree elder and celebrated peace activist Doreen Spence offered a moving prayer for the day. Carrie Neilson, Aboriginal issue strategist from the City of Calgary, spoke about the importance of finding solutions to homelessness, which are especially important for the aboriginal community. It was clear that peace is difficult for those without homes and must be a priority in a peaceful society. Carrie was the person who had the inspiration and generosity to realize that a collaboration of these two events (Finding Our Way Home & Peace Day) would be great to celebrate together.
The Aldermen read a proclamation for peace and nuclear abolition from the Mayor who annually sends out a proclamation on the international day of peace. On the grass at 8th street and 2nd Avenue SW we learned more about the peace pole project from architect Marc Boutin. The edifice will have the words 'May Peace Prevail on Earth' in many of the languages that new and old Canadians have brought to Canada or languages of the First Nations. One fascinating moment in the ceremonies was when the committee said, "May Peace Prevail on Earth' in a language that was meaningful to them: Arabic, Cree, Punjabi, Tamil, Hindi, Swahili, a Ugandan mother tongue, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Latin, Farsi, English, Welsh and more. One of the first community supporters of the Peace Pole, members of the Sikh community, were out in large numbers and the President of the Sikh Temple, Mr. Avtar Singh gave the message of peace from their Holy Scripture.
Vinay Dey, President of the Indo-Canadian Society and Lena Osman from the Muslim association of Calgary flipped burgers while members of the Mennonite Central Committee and Homeless Awareness Calgary served the crowd. No one went hungry that day.
A range of human experience and emotion was reflected in the music which followed, from the strength and devotion of the Aboriginal drummers to the heart tugging Spanish song for peace from Ligia Portal and Pedro Torres and the sweetness of the Sudanese finger piano melodies of Kojo. The collaboration was a true success of many communities offering their time and wisdom.