Give Peace a Chance

New event promotes peace, compassion, social justice

Peace Days is a new Winnipeg event spanning the week from the United Nations’ designated International Day of Democracy on Sunday September 15, to the International Day of Peace on Saturday, September 21.

An annual concert event celebrating the International Day of Peace has been held in the city the last few years, and organizers have been inspired to build on the momentum from that with a week-long collection of events aimed at a wider audience.

“There could be really heightened awareness and greater grass-roots involvement if this became a week-long event,” says Judy Slivinski, Director of Development and Marketing at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, who is acting as a spokesperson for Peace Days.

“I wouldn’t exactly call it a festival, but it’s sort of like a festival in a sense.”

The week culminates with the Saturday evening Concert for Peace at the Burton Cummings Theatre, featuring Sierra Noble, Gentil Mis, Flo, the Treble, Beatles tribute act Free Ride, as well as storytelling, spoken word, and poetry.

We’re such a diverse city, and I think that this will help us celebrate that, bring us even closer together, and promote greater understanding of one another.

Judy Slivinski, Director of Development and Marketing, WAG

In the days leading up to the concert, various events will include everything from dance, film, music and group meditation to panel discussions, ceremonial gatherings, and lectures with high-profile speakers, including Shulamith Koenig. The founding president of the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning (PMHRL) is one of five Americans to have received the UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights (along with Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., Jimmy Carter and James Grant) and she’s hosting an evening event for university students interested in human rights issues on September 19 at Chapters on 695 Empress Street.

With the event as a whole, a real effort has been made to encourage participation from organizations and groups of all kinds, in a spirit of inclusion.

“The groups themselves that are organizing events are from all kinds of faith-based traditions, and aboriginal background, and francophone and anglophone, so we really expect diversity,” Slivinski says.

It strives to be inclusive in terms of accessibility as well, offering many events for free.

“We have generous donations from businessmen in the community, who have asked us to make sure that under-served populations and impoverished populations come to the concert, and are given free tickets, so we’ll have that population represented.”

With all of the uncertainty and unrest around the globe, including wars and rumours of wars, it seems right to set aside a week dedicated to raising awareness about peace and social justice.

“This is sort of an event or series of events whose time has come, because there’s such a large number of either faith-based [or] community-based not-for-profit organizations in Winnipeg that reflect the tremendous spirit and generosity of our people here, and our will to get along,” she says. “We’re such a diverse city, and I think that this will help us celebrate that, bring us even closer together, and  promote greater understanding of one another - at a time when the world is at the brink of a big war, potentially, and peace is not a given anywhere.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 2 of The Uniter (September 11, 2013)

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