Regina Petition makes gains and losses

Peace Groups in Regina gather to hand in a petition requesting that Saskatchewan schools not move forward with a Army Reserve Training Co-operative Education program.

Peace Groups in Regina gather to hand in a petition requesting that Saskatchewan schools not move forward with a Army Reserve Training Co-operative Education program.

Over the past weeks, PeaceQuest Regina, in partnership with the Regina Peace Council, Making Peace Vigil, and Saskatoon Peace Coalition received over 2000 signatures collected from 98 communities across Saskatchewan aimed at preventing the Canadian Army Primary Reserve Co-op Program from getting off the ground.

Their petition requested that the school boards involved and the province strongly consider not moving forward with the program which offers $2000 to students to complete the 23 day course. Here is the press release from CAF promoting the program that mentions the credits, but not the wages.

I will leave the rest of the descriptions to Florence Stratton, who has has been a powerhouse in this campaign from the beginning with a lot of help from others.

One part of the campaign was to approach the local school boards requesting they reconsider participating in the program. They received notable support from the local Catholic School Board who passed a motion recommending that the military withdraw from the field of education. Here is the exact text:

Whereas the military training program about to be introduced in Regina Catholic high schools includes instruction in weapons handling, thus raising ethical questions about what we want young people to learn in our schools;

And whereas students who take the program will be paid $2,000, thus raising ethical questions about who the program is targeting;

And whereas the military training program is not compatible with the United Nations view of education as enabling “individuals to learn to live together in a world characterized by diversity and pluralism”;

And whereas military training involves obedience without question, thus impeding the development of critical thinking – or as a 17 year old reservist I know was recently told by his commander: “If we tell you the sun rises in the west you must agree”;

And whereas military training for youth contradicts Catholic social teachings that call for the promotion of human dignity and peacemaking;

Therefore be it resolved that the Regina Separate School Board inform the provincial government it does not want a military training program in its high schools and that it work with the Ministry of Education to develop a course for credit in Peace Studies to replace the military training option.

Here is Florence’s description of how the event went when they handed in the petition to the Saskatchewan Legislature on February 9th. It has been edited for length:

It was GREAT! Just over thirty of us showed up to sing ‘Study War No More” and to hand in the petition at the Legislative Building. We sang “Study War No More” outside for about fifteen minutes. Thanks to Paul for playing the Pete Seeger version for us and to the Singers of the Sacred Web for leading us in the singing.
We went into the Leg. and after a bit of a delay, were cleared to go up to the rotunda. Greg Lawrence, MLA for Moose Jaw-Wakamow, was on hand to receive the petition. We spoke briefly with Mr. Lawrence before handing in the petition. In return, Mr. Lawrence gave us a letter from the Premier, which reads in part: “Thank you for presenting your petition. Our government respectfully but strongly disagrees with your position.” You can download the complete letter here.
The media was out in full force; we were on CBC, CTV, and Global last evening. Carl Cherland was interviewed on the John Gormley news radio show. We were in Leader Post the next day. The article is preceded by a video of the event. Unfortunately you have to watch the promo for a very violent movie in order to see it.
 Our short term goal was to get a conversation about the issue going all over the province. We have definitely achieved that goal. Our long term goal is to get the military training program out of our schools. 

Thanks for reading! If you would like to take action and support this campaign, you may wish to write a letter to:

Premier Brad Wall/Honourable Brad Wall
2405 Legislative Dr,
Regina, SK S4S 0B3
Honourable Don Morgan
Minister of Education
2405 Legislative Dr,
Regina, SK S4S 0B3