News / Ottawa

War Museum's human library to show goal of world peace is within grasp

John Lennon and Yoko Ono's "War is over (if you want it)" mantra isn't merely wishful thinking - peace is within grasp and you can meet the people responsible at a human library held at the Canadian War Museum Sunday.

"Some of the people have had conflict in their lives and found peace. Others come at peace from a different direction," said Britt Braaten, learning specialist at the Canadian War Museum, of the library of 26 people who will tell their stories of conflict and peace from 10 to 4 p.m. at the museum.

A peace activist who set up meetings between Canadians and Russians during the Cold War, a man who fled conflict in Burundi, a war correspondent, a medic and a member of the Canadian Forces are just a few who can be 'borrowed' for 20 minutes at a time.

"It’s about making the stories we tell in the exhibition come alive," said Braaten, pointing out the connection with the launch of an exhibit titled Peace: The Exhibition which opened May 31. "You really get to know someone and turn an abstract idea into something real."

One 'book' is Koozma Tarasoff, an Ottawa peace activist who has been working for the cause for the past 55 years and mounted a campaign to get the government to open a new cabinet position for the Minister of Peace - complete with its own department.

"If we presuppose that peace is possible, it’s possible. It’s only if we say it won’t happen, that it won’t happen," said Tarasoff from his south end home. In 1985, during the Cold War, Tarasoff held living room discussions in his home Saturdays and Sundays where he invited people from the Russian embassy to talk about their country's mass media and agriculture with regular Canadians.

"It was to defuse the idea of the other, the person that we don't know," he said, adding he is excited to speak about his life at the museum.

"I’m hoping people will be inspired that there is another way instead of violence and war and that other way is the non-violent way of looking at things in the world."

The human library runs Sunday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Canadian War Museum. See a listing of all 26 books.

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