• By: Tori McNeely

11th Annual Ottawa Peace Festival: Canada Loves Peace

On September 21st through until October 2nd the United Nations International Day of Peace and Nonviolence will be united during the 11th Annual Ottawa Peace Festival. The festival is part of the Canadian Peace Initiative and this year’s theme explores Canada’s natural peaceful intent and orientation.

The hosting organization, the Canadian Peace Initiative aspires to involve communities and citizens to work towards building cities of peace, to enhance women and youth participation in peace-building, to promote inter-faith dialogue, and to explore ways of resolving conflicts through nonviolent means.

The festival, with its focus on International Day of Peace on September 21st, celebrates Ottawans' activism in building a culture of nonviolent peace in the nation's capital. This year’s program has two dozen events organized across Ottawa by over a dozen organizations.

"With a different kind of peace event every day throughout the 12-day festival period, we hope these fun and friendly events will give folks a chance to know what's happening in Ottawa to build community peace," said the festival co-convenor, Dr. Qais Ghanem.

In recognition of Canada’s 150th year of Confederation and contributions to peace of its residents, "150 Canadian Stories of Peace” have been collected from individual Canadians for a book on their unique ways of building peace in themselves, their homes, their communities and beyond.

This year shows a stronger focus on inner peace, through the inaugural “Innerspace” with Jon Cabot-Zinn, founder of modern mindfulness, on the 21st, on Parliament Hill, to mindfulness and yoga during two Kids Love Peace events on the 23rd and 30th. 

Tough questions are engaged in “Canada's Diversity: Does It Cause Conflict or Promote Peace?” a panel discussion. Canada's Speakers: Roman Mukerjee, Tarun Kumar,  Dr Sharon Gubbay Helfer, Concordia University, with active audience participation, moderated by Qais Ghanem. Serious local issues with provincial and national echoes are tackled at “Empowering People to Solve Conflict in Ottawa”. Members of Fairlea Park Housing Co-operative are empowering themselves and their community to deal with chronic conflict in the Ottawa Multicultural Vision Circle and the Fairlea Community Association. On September 30th and 1 October, “Circle of All Nations 19th Annual Peace Events” discuss Algonquin Grandfather William Commanda’s Legacy concerning Indigenous wisdom, environmental stewardship, social justice, racial harmony and peace building.

Four films are presented by the University of Ottawa’s Cinema Academica during the festival. The last, “Under the Same Sun”, on the 30th, is about Karim Jamal, who accidentally falls into the hands of a group of Hindu and Muslim village children near the border of India and Pakistan and discovers the true meaning of brotherhood and compassion.

Dr. Peter Stockdale, the festival’s other co-convenor noted, "Every citizen has an opportunity to get out and participate and to reflect on Canada Loves Peace, and see how Ottawans are showing that there are alternatives to violence and war in Canada and abroad."

Admission is free to most festival programs. For more detailed program calendar with date, time and venue check out the festival website.