150+ Canadians Day 113: PeaceQuest Regina
PeaceQuest Regina contributes to peace by strengthening peace & disarmament culture in Saskatchewan.
PeaceQuest Regina took up the torch early on in PeaceQuest’s existence in 2013. One of our few affiliate groups, PQ Regina has tirelessly worked to support and reinforce the existing peace movement in Saskatchewan. The following profile is a personal account of everything PQ Regina has accomplished to date.
by Florence Stratton
Shortly after Jamie Swift’s visit to Regina in 2014, PeaceQuest Regina was established as an affiliate of PeaceQuest. Our goal is to promote a culture of peace in the midst of all the violence promoted by the Canadian state. We are grounded in the knowledge that there will be no peace without justice.
For our membership, we draw on already existing peace groups, social justice movements, and members of local faith communities. We operate on a consensus basis and do our best to minimize hierarchy, with different people taking the lead on different projects.
How does PeaceQuest Regina go about fulfilling its mandate? It’s been a very busy three years since our founding. Here are some of the highlights.
- CAMPAIGN AGAINST MILITARY TRAINING IN REGINA HIGHSCHOOLS
No sooner had PeaceQuest Regina been founded than military training was added to the curriculum of Regina high schools. PeaceQuest Regina entered into partnership with three other Saskatchewan peace groups to organize against the program.
The campaign included a workshop, a petition (over 2,000 signatures), the distribution of pamphlets (over 400), and letters to the editor (at least 19). The campaign also garnered considerable local, as well as national, media attention.
In early 2016, the military training program was cancelled for that year, due to “low enrollment. (It hasn’t been reinstated since.) While Saskatchewan peace groups would like to take a wee bit of the credit for the program’s cancellation, the majority of it must go to Regina high school students who, despite a $2,000 “incentive” to take the program, refused to do so.
- WALK FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
For the past three years, PeaceQuest Regina has led a walk for peace and justice as part of Regina Jane’s Walks. Stops on these walks have included:
- John A. Macdonald Statue, Victoria Park: Macdonald’s dual legacy—nation-builder and racist and genocidal policies against Indigenous peoples.
- The Cenotaph, Victoria Park: The contrast between the Harper government’s claim that Canada was forged in the battles of World War 1 and the reality: Canada was almost destroyed by that war.
- Hotel Saskatchewan: The hotel’s refusal in the 1950s to rent rooms to Paul Robson and Marion Anderson.
- The Assiniboia Club: The Club’s refusal to admit Jewish men and all women as members up until the 1970s.
- The Statue of Gandhi, City Hall: Gandhi’s philosophy of active non-violence and his belief in the inseparability of peace from justice.
3. PEACE GARDEN
In the spring of 2015, PeaceQuest Regina entered into a wonderful partnership with Knox-Met United Church in the establishment of a Peace Garden. In addition to annuals, perennials, and flowering shrubs, the garden features a peace symbol made out of 100 year old bricks from Connaught School which was demolished in 2014. An artistic metal peace sign is also embedded in the garden and there is a little plaque on the ground that reads “Let there be peace on earth.”
This year, we have working with us a certified Organic Master Gardener, under whose guidance the garden is being opened up to more sunlight and greater visibility.
There are plans to rededicate the Peace Garden, once it is in full bloom this summer. A plaque will be affixed to the brick peace sign, noting the involvement of PeaceQuest Regina and Knox-Met in the Peace Garden project, as well as the origin of the bricks.
- PEACE FLAG
For the past three years, the City of Regina has, at the request of PeaceQuest Regina, raised the peace flag in front of City Hall for UN International Day of Peace. In conjunction with the raising of the flag, there is always a peace program, with a prayer and a song for peace. Attendees usually include some of the City Councillors.
- PEACE RALLIES
In the few short years of our existence, we have organized four peace rallies, the most recent being a Vimy Vigil for Peace which coincided with the official Vimy 100 celebrations.
- WRITE FOR PEACE
For the past two years, we have sponsored an event we call “Write For Peace, Peace is Right.” Modelled on Amnesty International’s Write For Rights, it involves people gathering together to write letters to government officials calling for peace and justice.
Last year, we wrote 50 letters, one of which caught the attention of a City Councillor who agreed to work with us to get Regina to join the Mayors For Peace movement.
- PEACE SYMBOL CONTEST
PeaceQuest Regina has for the past two years sponsored a peace symbol contest.
- Create a peace symbol on any surface: a sidewalk using chalk, a garden using flowers or rocks, a cookie using icing—you get the idea.
- Take a photo of your peace symbol.
- Email the photo to firstname.lastname@example.org
All who enter receive a peace gift and become eligible to win a major peace prize. We had 17 entries in the 2016 contest.
The deadline for entering the 2017 contest is August 31. We look forward to entries from across Canada and around the world!
- IN ADDITION to the above, we have, in our short existence:
- Launched a postcard campaign calling for peace in Iraq and Syria
- Sponsored an Exhibition of Hibakusha Worldwide Posters
- Sponsored the screening of a number of anti-war films
- Tabled at a number of events and conferences
- Distributed 100s of peace pamphlets at the Regina Folk Festival
- Organized public discussions of war and peace issues
As for future plans, it will in part be more of the same: More rallies for peace. More walks for peace and justice. More peace symbol contests. And so on. We also plan to develop new projects.
We are grateful for the support of PeaceQuest in our endeavors.
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May 25, 2017 @ 4:46 pm
In fact, the Regina vigil keepers just celebrated their 10th anniversary!! What an accomplishment!