OTTAWA, CANADA – NOVEMBER 13 & 14, 2015
Franco Famularo – Secretary-General, Canada
As a follow up to the 2014 annual joint UPF & WFWP conference with the same overall theme, the following issues were addressed:
• “A Canadian Youth Peace Service. Why & How?”
• “Challenges of Policing in the 21st Century”
• “Could an Interreligious Council at the UN oversee Jerusalem as an International City.”
The conference consisted of three panels comprised of a moderator and experts in each area. Not only were the issues addressed within a Canadian context, but also in the broader context of how Canada can serve the world in each of the above areas.
In his welcoming remarks, Dr. Moonshik Kim, Chair of the Universal Peace Federation in Canada, emphasized that given current tensions in our world, issues raised by the conference theme are indeed urgent.
Co-MCs for the conference were Robert Duffy and Eveline Stewart, both veterans of peace efforts on several continents.
After introductions to the Universal Peace Federation by Franco Famularo and to the Women’s Federation for World Peace by Mrs. Lilly Tadin, a video presentation featured the world-wide efforts of both organizations.
The first panel moderated by Dr. Peter Stockdale on “A Canadian Youth Peace Service. Why & How?” featured Ms. Lina Tuzet, currently a social worker, who has actively participated in service projects in Vanuatu and in Paraguay during the past three years. She was followed by Baraa Arar, a high school student, strongly engaged in youth activities in the Muslim community of Ottawa. Both impressed the audience with their articulate presentations.
Andrew Cardozo of the Pearson Institute offered a view from a public policy perspective and the need for strengthening peace oriented youth activities. Desire Kilowla, program officer for International Development- Citizenship and Immigration Canada, provided the view as a Congolese living in Canada and his efforts to effect change in the Democratic Republic of Congo and beyond.
During the 2nd panel on the “Challenges of Policing in the 21st century” a contrast of speakers addressed the topic.
The moderator, Dr. Michael Balcomb, a US citizen and President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, USA shared an array of recent statistics on the state of affairs in the USA which, in his view, provided for a far worse situation with regards to relations between police and citizens than most countries – especially Canada.
Retired Chief of Police for York Region, Armand La Barge, provided a glimpse into the history of policing in Canada and the world. Providing hard numbers on the state of police resources (both human and material) in Canada was an eye-opener for many of the participants. (see attached presentation)
La Barge was followed by Ms. Gabrielle Fayant, an Indigineous Activist, who shared about the pain and suffering in her community due to continuing tension and misunderstanding with police and folks in authority.
Daniel Stringer then added his comments as one involved in community building as chair of the National Capital Peace Council in Ottawa. He was followed by Dr. Vern Redekop, a specialist in conflict studies at St. Paul University and author of “From Violence to Blessing” who related how he emerged from a small Mennonite Community in Saskatchewan to facing domestic and global policing issues.
After a musical interlude provided by Classical Violinist, Ralitsa Tcholakova, the luncheon speech was given by veteran Ambassador for Peace, Rev. Darryl Gray, who currently serves as Special Assistant to the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), spoke about the vision of the founders of UPF and WFWP. He urged each one present to emerge from the shadows with their message of goodness. Rev. Gray shared that even though a lot has happened since Martin Luther King Jr. founded the SCLC in the United States, recent violence due to racial tensions in the USA demonstrates there is still a lot of work to do.
The afternoon program included the appointment of four new Ambassadors for Peace, a final panel on the need for an Interreligious Council at the United Nations. Moderator Father Jacques Kabangu introduced the session which posed the hypothetical question: “Could an Interreligious Council oversee Jerusalem as an International City.”
Ricardo de Sena, UPF North American Secretary General led the session with a presentation on a proposal for such a council at the UN as proposed by the late Rev. Moon in August, 2000. He was followed by international human rights consultant and educator, Dr. Karen Mock who approached the question from the viewpoint of one with a Jewish Heritage. She was followed by Mrs. Alexa Ward, deputy director of the UN Office of the Women’s Federation for World Peace. A Muslim view was provided by Ms. Shaheen Junaid Ashraf, a representative of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. The concluding on this session were provided by Mr. Michael McIntyre, past president of the Capital Region Interfaith Council in Ottawa.
Each of the three sessions was followed by a lively Question and Answer session.
On November 14, with most everyone’s thoughts on the tragic events of the previous day in Paris, France, a Seminar was held on the topic “Exploring the Peace Philosophy of the Founders of UPF and WFWP”. Speakers included Dr. Michael Balcomb, Rev. Darryl Gray, Mrs. Alexa Ward and Mr. Alan Wilding.
With thanks to all organizers, participants and those who helped make the 2 day conference and seminar a success.