Archive for the ‘Peace’ Category

Oct. 6, 2012: A passerby reads a leaflet distributed by Peace Alliance Winnipeg in Osborne Village. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Activists in at least 6 Canadian cities joined in the International Day of Action yesterday to carry the message “Don’t attack Iran” to our fellow citizens.

In Winnipeg, Peace Alliance Winnipeg held an information picket in the Osborne Village neighbourhood, distributing hundreds of leaflets that exposed the myths that are being spread by our various governments to justify sanctions and a future war against Iran.

At the conclusion of the demonstration, Peace Alliance Winnipeg chairperson, Glenn Michalchuk, spoke about the growing war danger and the implications for Canadians. Here is my video report.


Sept. 21, 2012: Actors Gord Tanner, Sara Constible and Tricia Cooper (l-r) in performance at International Peace Day at the Free Press Cafe in Winnipeg. The evening was sponsored by Project Peacemakers. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Yesterday was International Peace Day. It’s understandable if you missed it. Peace is a rare and beautiful thing in this war-torn world.

Winnipeg’s Project Peacemakers marked International Peace Day 2012 with skits and musical performances at the Free Press Cafe. Performing sketches written by Geoff Hughes and Diane Cooper, actors Tricia Cooper, Sara Constible and Gord Tanner provided a comedic response to the Harper Government’s military spending policies in general and its decision to spend $28 million celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

With skillfully performed covers of songs by Pink Floyd, John Lennon and the Weavers, Tom Penner and Jill Cooper closed out the evening with ballads beloved by peace activists everywhere.

International Peace Day was established by the United Nations in 1981 and first celebrated in September 1982. Since then it has been observed in countries around the world.

Project Peacemakers is a church-based organization that has been active in Winnipeg since 1983. It conducts educational forums, and publishes  educational materials on such issues as child soldiers, war-affected children, and violent video games and toys.

While I tend to be skeptical of international days of any kind, I’m glad I went. It was an enjoyable to be surrounded by people who care actively about world peace and the performances were great. Here is my video report.


by Peace Alliance Winnipeg

During the Vietnam war, tens of thousands of American conscientious objectors sought refuge in Canada to avoid taking part in a war they could not, in conscience, support. While the Canadian government was slow to respond in a positive way, under persistent pressure from peace, church and labour activists, they were eventually permitted to obtain immigrant status. Many remain in Canada to this day as valued members of our communities.

Fast forward 40 years – many US soldiers have sought refuge here  rather than fight in the Iraq war, a war widely recognized as a crime against humanity. Rather than be complicit in war crimes they left their homes, their families and communities and sought refuge in Canada.

Their pleas for refugee status have been thwarted at every turn by the Harper Government. In defiance of two Parliamentary resolutions calling on the federal government to allow war resisters to stay in Canada, the Harper Government has continued to smear American war resisters as criminals. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney has publicly labelled them as “bogus refugee claimants.” In July 2010, he issued a bulletin to all Immigration Officers requiring them to red-flag applications that involve US war resisters, labeling them as “criminally inadmissible.”

In recent news, the Harper government ordered U.S. Iraq war resister Kimberly Rivera, her husband Mario and their four young children deported to the United States. Kimberly served in Iraq in 2006, and sought refuge in Canada in 2007 after making the decision that she could no longer participate in the Iraq War. She was the first female US Iraq War resister to come to Canada. Kimberly and her family live in Toronto.

If deported, she faces harsh punishment. War resisters Robin Long and Clifford Cornell, two Iraq war resisters deported by the Harper government, were court-martialed and sentenced to 15 months and 12 months respectively for speaking out against the Iraq War.

Canadian support for American war resisters is widespread. We must redouble our efforts to make the Harper government listen.

Peace Alliance Winnipeg has sent a $300 donation to cover Kimberly Rivera’s legal costs. We have written to each Manitoba MP and we will be taking our message to the Winnipeg Take Canada Back demonstration on September 17th. Here are some things you can do:

1. Write, email, fax and or call your MP. If you wish, you can use or adapt the letter sent by Peace Alliance Winnipeg (below, at the end of this message) or you may wish to adapt the letter being used by the War Resisters Support Campaign.  To get their contact information, follow the links below:

(More MP contact information can be found here.)
2. Make a financial contribution to help with Kimberly Rivera’s legal expenses. You can make a donation online, here. To donate by cheque, make it payable to War Resisters Support Campaign and send to:

War Resisters Support Campaign
Box 23
427 Bloor Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 1X7
Canada

3. Write, email, phone or fax Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney and ask him to let Iraq War resister Kimberly Rivera and her family stay in Canada. You can use thisonline letter, or send your own message to:

325 East Block, House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Phone: 613-954-1064 Fax: 613-957.2688
Email: jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca, minister@cic.gc.ca

4. Join the Peace Alliance Winnipeg contingent at the Winnipeg Take Canada Back Demonstration on September 17th, 5:00 p.m., at the Manitoba Legislature. More information on this national demonstration, which coincides with the opening of Parliament, can be found here.

If Kimberly and her family are to be allowed to remain in Canada, we need to act now. Please share this message widely, and take action today.


LETTER SENT TO MANITOBA MPs FROM PEACE ALLIANCE WINNIPEG

September 13, 2012

Dear Member of Parliament for Manitoba

Re: Deportation of Kimberly Rivera , American Iraqi war resister

On behalf of the Peace Alliance Winnipeg I ask for your immediate attention and support on an urgent matter regarding the imminent deportation of Kimberly Rivera, a young American war resister, woman and mother. Her appeal to remain in Canada on humanitarian grounds has been denied by the Federal government and deportation is scheduled for as early as September 20, 2012.

Kimberly has sought refuge in Canada on moral grounds, motivated by her conscience, values, and political opposition to the American military action in Iraq. Many thousands of Canadians support her and view her decision and actions as a heroic matter of conscience.

On being forced to return to he US she will face two to five years of imprisonment made all the more harsh by her separation from her young children.

There is nothing to be gained from this inhumane decision and much will be lost. Kimberly losses her freedom and her ability to parent her children; her children lose precious time with their mother; the American military gains nothing but retribution and, as Canadians, we also lose.

This is a serious and symbolic issue for us a nation. If we fail to reverse this deportation decision, and all others like it, Canada loses a significant degree of independence in determining the value of individual conscience particularly as it concerns the matter of conscientious objection. The deportation of war resisters sends the message that Canada does not value those who refuse to fight in war. It further erodes our standing in the world as peace keepers and a middle power capable of being an honest broker on the world stage.

Most troubling we will have failed our long held national values of defending legitimate moral opposition, defending the right to conscience and protecting political refugees from certain prosecution. Our once highly held principle of humanitarian consideration for refugees will be irrevocably threatened along with our national identity as a compassionate and tolerant country.

This is a costly and grave matter for Kimberly and her family and for us as Canadians. It is erroneously being framed as a criminal matter. Deportation of Kimberly and others like her will have far reaching, long term destructive consequences for us all. The real crime is a moral one in allowing this deportation to proceed unchallenged.

In June 2008 and March 2009 Parliament passed resolutions calling for a halt to the deportations of war resisters and allowing them to stay in Canada as permanent residents. Please use your position and voice as a parliamentarian to immediately stop the deportation of Kimberly Rivera.

Glenn Michalchuk
Chair, Peace Alliance Winnipeg

Aug. 25, 2012: One of the messages adorning the walkways of Vimy Ridge Park. Photo: Paul S. Graham

The underlying premise of CHALK 4 Peace might best be summed up in a statement attributed to Mahatma Gandhi in 1937: “There is no way to peace; peace is the way.”

CHALK 4 Peace is an annual event that has spread to hundreds of communities world-wide since its inception in 2003 in Arlington, Virginia. The objectives, according to CHALK 4 Peace  are:

  • To promote the arts by coordinating assemblies of young artists of all ages to draw their vision of peace in public and private spaces with sidewalk chalk as a scheduled worldwide event;
  • To advocate for peace in a non-partisan manner such that all people may share their visions and messages of peace without regard to their nationality, ethnicity, or political beliefs;
  •  To encourage relationships between municipalities and artists so that communities around the world become united in supporting the expression of peace.

Winnipeggers celebrated their 6th annual CHALK 4 Peace on Saturday, raising funds for War Child Canada, and bringing sidewalk art, music, and laughter to Vimy Ridge Park.

Performers included Ras Tamils, the Flaming Trolleys and Lindsey White & Mitch Dorge.

Kisa MacIsaac, one of the organizers of the Winnipeg event, explains how this coming together of arts, music and people contributes to a more peaceful world.

You can find find CHALK 4 Peace Winnipeg on Facebook.

Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk Photo: Jake Wright, The Canadian Press

This interview with Canada’s Chief of Defence Staff says more about the psychopathology of militarism than I would have believed could be found in a daily newspaper. Read along with me and ask yourself what kind of madness are we allowing to develop in this country.

My thoughts are in the right hand column. I’d be interested in hearing yours.

Canada’s top soldier says troops ready and eager for new overseas missions

By Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Winnipeg Free Press, July 7, 2012

CALGARY – When it comes to future missions for the Canadian Forces, Canada’s top soldier has to battle to keep his eager troops satisfied with staying out of major combat zones for now.

Our military exists, or should exist, to defend this country from aggressors while occasionally helping Torontonians dig out of blizzards and Manitobans fight floods. However, it seems that rather than guardians of national sovereignty and security we have a pack of blood thirsty attack dogs on a leash, restrained only by the herculean efforts of Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk.

Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan will come to an end once the current training mission concludes in 2014 and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk acknowledges that’s a disappointment for many soldiers, sailors and air personnel.

If Natynczyk is correct in his assessment, we have allowed our military to become a haven for a large number of homicidal psychopaths. Is this what happens after a decade of war?

“We have some men and women who have had two, three and four tours and what they’re telling me is ‘Sir, we’ve got that bumper sticker. Can we go somewhere else now?’” Natynczyk said in an exclusive interview with The Canadian Press in Calgary.

These men and women need help. Failing that, they should never be allowed to own anything sharper than soup spoons.

“You also have the young sailors, soldiers, airmen and women who have just finished basic training and they want to go somewhere and in their minds it was going to be Afghanistan. So if not Afghanistan, where’s it going to be? They all want to serve.”

I like it when our troops are on hand to fight floods and forest fires. I’d prefer not paying taxes to help them make their bones overseas. If they are really that eager to kill people, our American cousins seem to have an insatiable appetite for cannon fodder.

But Natynczyk is unsure about what is in store for the Canadian Forces or even himself for that matter.

If you believe that, I have some prime muskeg, suitable for agriculture, that you won’t be able to resist.

He has been on the job for four years, which is past the normal tenure for someone in his position, and if he knows what is going to happen next, he isn’t providing any details.

“I’ll just keep on sprinting in this job until I’m told to get off the playing field and recognizing that I’m living in a pretty good time to be in the military,” he said.

Ah, so many people to kill, so little time!

“I never aspired to this job. I just serve. I serve Canadians and the country and look on every day as an opportunity to make a contribution.”

If you really want to serve, Walt, there’s a Starbuck’s near you that is always looking for talent.

Natynczyk said he is telling Canadian troops to keep their “kit packed up” because the world is an unpredictable place right now.

Iran? Syria? Northern BC, if the First Nations don’t allow Enbridge to build it’s Northern Gateway Pipeline?

“The world is turbulent right now and the fact is our allies want more of Canada, more of the men and women who wear Canadian uniforms,” he said.

Our allies want us to kill more brown people who have the misfortune to be in some proximity to undeveloped fossil fuels. We happen to be good at it, I guess.

“I’ve told them all to catch up on that training that lapsed while we had this high operational tempo between Afghanistan and the Olympics and Haiti and Libya, and let’s make sure we have all qualifications and training up to date so when we’re called upon we’re ready to go.”

We’re learning new ways to kill people every day.

The general said outside of Afghanistan, Canada has a number of other smaller missions underway including in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean.

Oh, and guess what! We’re opening up seven new military bases on foreign soil in Senegal, South Korea, Kenya, Singapore, Kuwait, Jamaica and Singapore.

Natynczyk said he is satisfied with the success of the Canadian mission to Afghanistan and pointed out that he flew into Kabul on a commercial airliner for the first time when he visited troops in the city last month.

Let’s see now . . . at great cost to ourselves and and a much greater cost to the Afghan people, we’ve helped a gang of drug lords maintain some control of a couple of urban centres which, when NATO leaves, will undoubtedly revert to Taliban control. The good news is, however, when the dust finally settles, commercial airlines will still fly into Kabul – just like they did before we invaded.

He said the departure of Canadian and U.S. troops will give the Afghan forces the little push that they need to succeed.

“It has helped the Afghans in a sense, taking ownership of their own security. One of the real challenges was the sense that NATO and our allies were going to stay there forever. (That) actually was not helpful in terms of their own culture and own atmosphere,” he said.

Natynczyk is a master of understatement.

Natynczyk is focusing much of his efforts now in making sure more attention is being paid to injured soldiers and their families, especially those suffering from the psychological effects of war.

Shattered bodies and broken minds are the inevitable outcomes of war. Why is Natynczyk so eager to get into another one?

“It’s almost easier to handle people with physical injuries, with physical wounds. People can see it. They can understand it, whether it be shrapnel, a broken leg, even these horrific amputations,” he said.

“It’s much more difficult in the mental injury, whether it be post traumatic stress, operational stress injury, traumatic brain injury because we’re just understanding the beginning of a process of understanding the complex nature of this.”

According to The Department of National Defence, 19 men and one woman died by suicide in the Canadian Forces in 2011, up from 12 in 2010. Since 1996, 187 soldiers have committed suicide. How many more suicides are we going to tolerate while the military is figuring out the “complex nature of this”?

Natynczyk said he talked about mental health on his last visit to Kabul, especially about overcoming the “stigma” of mental issues and making sure people come forward if they have a problem.

And how’s that workin’ for ya, Walt?

Lester B. Pearson has been dead for four decades, but his imagined legacy, that of international peacekeeper, remains one of the defining myths of the Canadian identity. Horrified by our murderous behavior in the occupation of Afghanistan and the bombings of Libya and the former Yugoslavia, the sainted memory of our 14th prime minister is resurrected by people who ought to know better to argue that war-making is not really a Canadian value, that we need to retake our traditional place in the global community as a progressive force for international co-operation, harmony and peace – that we must, again, assume the mantle of our revered Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mike Pearson.

Yves Engler‘s sixth book, Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt, was written to put an end to this nonsense. Canadian foreign policy continues to serve the interests of Canada’s corporate elite, and Pearson’s major contribution to this end was to shift Canadian allegiance from the declining British Empire to the emerging American one. With his peacekeeping fig leaf firmly in place, he backed some of the most murderous thugs of the 20th Century. As Noam Chomsky puts it in the preface to Engler’s book:

“Canada’s Nobel Peace Prize winner and eminent statesman, Lester Pearson was a major criminal, really extreme. He didn’t have the power to be like an American president, but if he had it, he would have been the same. He really tried.”

To encapsulate the book, Yves assembled a list of the “Top 10 things you don’t know about Canada’s most famous statesman, Lester B. Pearson.”

10. Asked in Parliament, he refused to call for Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
9. He had Canada deliver weapons to the French to put down the Algerian and Vietnamese independence movements.
8. The Kennedy administration helped Pearson win his first minority government.
7. He incited individuals to destroy a peace group after it called for the outlawing of nuclear weapons.
6. Pearson backed the CIA coups in Iran and Guatemala.
5. He described the formation of NATO, not peacekeeping, as the “most important thing I participated in.”
4. Pearson threatened to quit as external affairs minister if Canada failed to deploy ground troops to Korea.
3. He agreed to have Canada’s representatives to the International Control Commission for Vietnam spy for the US and deliver their bombing threats to the North.
2. The world’s leading intellectual, Noam Chomsky, considers Lester Pearson a war criminal.
1. Stephen Harper’s foreign policy resembles that of Pearson more than any Liberal would ever admit.

Yves Engler was in Winnipeg on March 15, speaking at the Mondragon Bookstore and Coffee House. His appearance was sponsored by Peace Alliance Winnipeg. Dwayne Crowe and I prepared this video report for Winnipeg Community Television.

Image: Yves Engler in 2011. Photo: Paul S. Graham

UPDATE: You can watch a video report of Yves Engler’s March 15th Winnipeg presentation here.


Foreign policy analyst Yves Engler will be speaking in Winnipeg Thursday about his newest book, Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurt.

Date: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Mondragon Bookstore and Coffee House, 91 Albert Street, Winnipeg
Admission: Free. Donations will be requested to help defray expenses.


Written in the form of a submission to an imagined “Truth and Reconciliation” commission about Canada’s foreign policy past Lester Pearson’s Peacekeeping: The Truth May Hurtchallenges one of the most important Canadian foreign policy myths – that of Lester B. Pearson as peacekeeper.

Lester Pearson is one of Canada’s most important political figures. A Nobel Peace Prize laureate, he is considered a great peacekeeper and ‘honest broker.’ But in this critical examination of his work, Pearson is exposed as an ardent cold warrior who backed colonialism and apartheid in Africa, Zionism, coups in Guatemala, Iran and Brazil and the U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic. A beneficiary of U.S. intervention in Canadian political affairs, he also provided important support to the U.S. in Vietnam and pushed to send troops to the American war in Korea.

Yves Engler has published five other books:

  • Stop Signs — Cars and Capitalism on the Road to Economic, Social and Ecological Decay (with Bianca Mugyenyi)
  • The Black Book of Canadian Foreign Policy (Shortlisted for the Mavis Gallant Prize for Non Fiction in the Quebec Writers’ Federation Literary Awards)
  • Playing Left Wing: From Rink Rat to Student Radical and (with Anthony Fenton)
  • Canada in Haiti: Waging War on The Poor Majority
  • Canada and Israel: Building Apartheid

His six books have been praised by Naomi Klein, Noam Chomsky, William Blum, Rick Salutin and many others.

His visit to Winnipeg is being hosted by Peace Alliance Winnipeg.

Making war has been a human pursuit for thousands of years.

Playing at war, it would seem, is at least as old. This ancient Greek toy, a model of a war chariot, fashioned from clay, has survived the millennia to bear witness to our enduring attachment to violence and domination.

War requires warriors. Because killing is not something that comes naturally to most of us, a long period of preparation is usually needed. It begins, in childhood, with the toys we give to our children.

The design and marketing of war toys are anything but child’s play. According to an article in the New York Times, the US military and the American toy industry have a long history of working together. It’s a relationship where both parties benefit – toys are more realistic and often, toys have inspired weapons development. But there’s more. As the author observes:

“Because the newest generation of soldiers grew up playing with electronic toys and games, the symbiosis between them is nearly genetic. Today’s troops received their basic training as children.”

The popularity of violent video games inspired the US Army to develop its very own video game, which it provides free of charge from its web site. According to the late Gary Webb, an American investigative journalist of considerable renown,

America’s Army isn’t merely a game, recruiting device or a public-relations tool, though it is certainly all of those things. It’s also a military aptitude tester. And it was designed that way from the start.”

A growing body of evidence confirms that exposure to violent toys, games and media can increase aggressive behavior, desensitize people to violence, and contribute to an exaggerated fear of the world.

Dr. Darlene Hammell, of the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine explains:

“A close examination of the issue raises concerns that war toys teach children that:

  • war is a game, an exciting adventure.
  • killing is acceptable, even fun.
  • violence or the threat of violence is the only way to resolve conflicts.
  • the world is divided into “goodies” and “baddies” where the bad guys are devoid of human qualities and their destruction is desirable.”

For the past 10 years, Winnipeg’s Project Peacemakers has conducted an annual inspection of Winnipeg toy stores. The objective is to raise awareness about the levels of violence in children’s toys and games, and to call on retailers, government, and the wider community to take steps to limit this violence.

I tagged along with an inspection team, last month, as it looked at two of the eleven stores covered in this year’s survey and prepared this video report.

The envelope. please . . .

Here is how the stores performed in terms of providing peaceful, constructive playthings – as opposed to war toys.

Excellent: Children’s Museum
Commendable: A Child’s Place, Hans Christian Toys, Scholar’s Choice, Toad Hall
Acceptable: BJ’s Toy Store, Kit and Kabooble
Needs Improvement: Dollarama, Toys “R” Us, Zellers

Although a team visited a local Walmart, they were informed that Project Peacemakers would be unable to publicize its findings without first contacting Walmart’s public relations office. Project Peacemakers declined to rate the store, leaving you to draw your conclusions, if not about their toys, then about Walmart’s public relations savvy.

It oughtta be a crime

Under international law, most wars are crimes – though the likelihood of prosecution is low (unless you are on the losing side). War toys, however, remain perfectly legal in most places. Thankfully, there are exceptions. In 2009, Venezuela passed a “Law Prohibiting War Video Games and War Toys.” Prior to this, according to the Peace and Conflict Monitor, Sweden and Norway have “successful voluntary restriction” of war toy sales, Malta prohibits their import, Greece bans television advertising and Australia places some restrictions on imports. The Monitor says the European Parliament has recommended that its member states ban advertising of war toys and reduce their sale, though I could find no evidence that this has happened.

Merry Christmas, all.

Every August 6, Winnipeggers commemorate the August 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a Lanterns for Peace Ceremony. People come together to make and float their lanterns in a pond in the middle of the city to express their desire for a peaceful world and to show solidarity with countless others around the world who are doing something similar on that day.

The Cast

  • Glenn Morison – Project Peacemakers
  • Ismaila Alfa – CBC Radio
  • Doug Martindale – MLA, Burrows Constituency
  • Steve Plenert – Mennonite Central Committee
  • Jessica Nagamori – Manitoba Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association
  • Terumi Kuwada – Manitoba Japanese Canadian Citizens’ Association
  • Haley Rempel – Flautist

Lanterns for Peace Sponsors

The Crew

On Monday, August 6, 1945, at 8:15 a.m., the nuclear bomb “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan by an American B-29 bomber, the Enola Gay. An estimated 130,000 people were killed.

On August 9, 1945, Nagasaki was the target of America’s second atomic bomb attack. At 11:02 a.m., the north of the city was destroyed and an estimated 70,000 people were killed by the bomb nicknamed “Fat Man.”

Over the years and decades that followed, thousands more died from a variety of radiation induced diseases. Even now, after more than six decades, many aftereffects persist, including leukemia, A-bomb cataracts, and cancers of thyroid, breast, lungs, salivary glands, birth defects, and disfiguring radiation burn scars.

The psychological damage arising from widespread chronic illness and the destruction of families and communities cannot be measured.

For many years, Winnipeggers have commemorated these tragedies and reaffirmed our commitment to peace and freedom from nuclear terror. We symbolize our commitment with a Lantern Ceremony.

Aug. 6, 2010: Winnipeggers gather at Memorial Park to launch their Lanterns for Peace. Photo: Paul S. Graham

Aug. 6, 2010: Lanterns reflect the individual aspirations of the artist. Photo: Paul S. Graham

August 6, 2010: Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace. Photo: Paul S. Graham

The Lantern Ceremony is part of an ancient Buddhist Ceremony (O-Bon), that commemorates the lives of deceased loved ones. For many years around the world, this ceremony has been used on Hiroshima Peace Day to honour and embrace the memory of those who died because of the attacks.

During these ceremonies, participants are invited to design a lantern that represents their thoughts and feelings regarding personal losses, global concerns of peace, nuclear disarmament and any other issue relevant to keeping our planet safe.

In addition to lanterns, we make origami peace cranes to commemorate the story of “Sadako and a Thousand Paper Cranes.”

Sadako Sasaki, a 10-year old girl, became sick with leukemia from the effects of the atomic bomb in post war Japan. She believed in an ancient tale that if you made 1000 paper cranes, you would be granted a wish. She wished for good health.

She died before she completed making the cranes and her classmates completed the task for her. Each year, thousands of paper cranes from all over the world adorn the statue of Sadako in the Hiroshima Peace Park in Hiroshima, Japan.

As important as it is to commemorate the horrible tragedies of August 6 and 9, 1945, more is required of us to prevent a recurrence of this disaster. Nine countries are known to possess nuclear weapons (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel). Together, they possess an estimated 8,000 active nuclear warheads and more than 22,000 in storage. The explosion (accidental or deliberate) of only one of these weapons would cause unthinkable suffering and destruction.

The nuclear threat is too serious to be ignored. We cannot rest until each of these nuclear weapons has been dismantled.

How you choose to work for a nuclear free world is up to you. There are numerous options. Here a few of the many Internet resources available to help you get involved.

If you live in or close to Winnipeg, you should consider contacting any of the sponsors of Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace:

And, of course, you shouldn’t miss out on Winnipeg Lanterns for Peace 2011.

Finally, the Canadian Peace Alliance is a good source of information on peace groups across Canada. The important thing is to become informed and involved.