PeaceQuest is a non-profit organization based in Kingston, Ontario.
Its mission, to initiate conversations around peace and to cultivate Canada’s deeply held commitment to peace. Members hope to stimulate a nation-wide conversation about the country’s role in peacemaking, reconciliation and social justice.
“We are a completely volunteer organization, without staff or an office. I think this speaks highly of member’s commitment to a peaceful society, and to taking a leadership role in active peacemaking around the globe,” said Michael Cook, co-chair of PeaceQuest. It is PeaceQuest’s hope conversations around peace will animate people across Canada to undertake initiatives in their communities between now and 2017.
The initial group began meeting two years ago. At that time conversations were about the hundredth anniversary of the First World War and the one-hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Canada as a nation. “We asked ourselves, how do we as Canadians think about these anniversaries? We needed a clear vision. We met for four to six months, working on what we thought we should highlight. It was determined we wanted to ask important questions about peace and war like should Canadians lament or celebrate war, what do Canadians want the military to achieve, how do people make peace in a way that can be maintained, and how can people who believe in peace achieve peace?” said Cook.
From the questions members developed they derived the title PeaceQuest. “We want to engage citizens, and ask them where does peace fit in their lives?” said Cook. They are on a quest for dialogue around the theme of peace.
“Once we had a name we had to decide how to engage people. We determined our logo would be a blank white square. We aren’t coming to people with the answer. We are coming to people with the question, what constitutes peace? How do you fill that blank white space, and how do you make good on what you fill the space with? So, people can just pin a white felt square on their lapel. Every time someone asks them about it they can responded with, ‘What is peace to you?’ There will be tremendous dialogue. Even young children can answer that question.”
To accomplish their mission PeaceQuest supports educational programs in schools, engages a wide variety of faith communities, and supports cultural activities like theatre and music that encourage dialogue around peace.
“PeaceQuest donated 50 Waiting for the Parade tickets to the Kingston Military Family Resource Centre. Prior to the performance of the play at the 1000 Island’s Playhouse there will be a panel discussion about the role women play in war and peace. We aren’t attempting to develop a lot of programs on our own. We want to support others, like the Playhouse. We want to nurture a broad-based dialogue about peace as core value of Canadians at individual, community, national and international levels,” said Cook.
It is essential, especially in places like Kingston, where there is a strong military presence, that dialogue include members of the military and their families.
“You know, if the dialogue didn’t include the military it would be very difficult to talk about peace. We are not anti-military at all. We are partnering with the military to discuss peace. We have been delighted by the collaborative spirit of Canadian Armed Forces and have plans to work with them in the future.”
Please visit www.peacequest.ca to be linked to others invested in dialogue around peace.