“Peace, Freedom and Democracy” was the theme of this year’s annual Winnipeg Walk for Peace.
In its 29th year, the Walk for Peace is a shadow of its former self. In the 1980s, under the ever present threat of nuclear annihilation at the hands of competing super powers, thousands of Winnipeggers felt motivated to participate. The end of the Cold War changed all that, and today, the event is kept alive by a stubborn handful of activists who continue to insist that a peaceful world is possible and necessary.
This year’s walk drew about 150 people. While small in comparison to the marches of the 1980s, it was larger than those held in the last few years, and I sensed a more positive mood. While the mood may have been the result of the sunshine and the melodies of Winnipeg’s beloved Flaming Trolleys marching band, I think something else is affoot.
A broader range of organizations turned out for the walk, expressing their concerns about domestic and international threats to peace and human rights. Supporters of freedom for Gaza marched along side activists against police brutality in Winnipeg; opponents to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq accompanied activists in solidarity with the Haitian people. And so on.
Notably, the Peace Walk was sandwiched between a World Refugee Day “Rally for Refugees” and a conference about the prospects for peace in Sudan called “Eyes on Sudan.” The organizers of all these events worked together, along with Peace Alliance Winnipeg, to promote these events to their respective members.
It’s too early to say if this cooperation points toward a renewed peace movement in Winnipeg but the signs are all positive at this point.
My alter ego packed his video camera. Grab some popcorn and join me in wishing a long life to the Flaming Trolleys marching band.