News / Winnipeg

Winnipeg’s Peace Day celebration expands from one day to week of activities

Harmony and human rights are central themes for a new weeklong festival called Peace Days, which was officially launched on Thursday with a ceremony near the Mahatma Gandhi statue at The Forks.

David Newman, Peace Days co-chair, said events begin on Sunday, Sept. 15, which is the International Day of Democracy, and the fest ends with the Concert for Peace on Sept. 21, the International Day of Peace.

“This year a group of individuals … created a diversified program of events to appeal to people of all ages, throughout the city of Winnipeg,” said Newman.

“This is the first time that events here in Winnipeg are now recognized as Peace Days and we hope to be able to recreate Peace Days next year and even expand our structure and vision around the world.”

Newman said 2013 is the first year the committee — with the participation of other faith-based, community and social groups — has organized more events and not just the peace concert on Sept. 21.

Among those scheduled to speak during Peace Days are Kim Phuc, a Vietnamese-Canadian who at age nine was the subject of a Pulitzer-Prize winning 1972 photograph showing her running unclothed down a road following a napalm attack during the Vietnam War, and Shulamith Koenig, founder of the People’s Movement for Human Rights Learning.

Thursday’s press conference included a video message from former Premier Gary Doer, now Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., and speeches from Mayor Sam Katz and Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism Christine Melnick.

“In Canada, we have a very strong history of peace and we really need to stay that course,” said Melnick.

“It was Canada who gave the world peacekeepers, the idea that soldiers could wage peace instead of war was a novel idea … that was part of our heritage.”

Katz said to him, peace days include agony and ecstasy — the ecstasy that Winnipeggers are fortunate to live in a place of relative harmony.

“And yet with all of the wonderful things that are happening in Winnipeg, in Manitoba and Canada, I look around the world in the year (2013) and still see atrocities that make me shiver and shake my head and wonder why,” said Katz.

“That is something we must put an end to, and that’s why I’m so happy to see this initiative and to see all of the phenomenal support.”

Visit peacedays.ca for more information on the events.

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