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November Newsletter - Special Edition, Peace Days 2019

 Peace Days 2019: Reaching New Heights!
2019 marked the 5th edition of Peace Days, (PD) and what an amazing edition it was!  With the collaboration of an amazing 60 implementing partners, and with the support of 30 financial partners (in addition to the annual contribution of the Peace Network’s members and friends, of course), the Peace Days initiative was once again a huge success. We would like to give special thanks to the Dym Family Foundation and Fiera Capital, our two most generous Peace Days financial partners.
Peace Days programming, which takes place in the context of the International Day of Peace (designated by the UN as taking place annually on September 21), ran from September 1st to October 18th. Under this year’s theme of "Celebrate difference and unite for peace", more than 70 activities took place in Montreal, shining a spotlight on peace and emphasizing the value and importance of diversity in our society.  Several new features were introduced this year as well, such as the launch of a website and the naming of Peace Days Ambassadors Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman of YidLife Crisis as well as award-winning author Kim Thuy. Our wonderful Ambassadors also agreed to film Public Service Announcements, produced by CTV, which were broadcast dozens of times on their network, as well as appearing on Vtélé and on social media. You can view the PSAs from the homepage of the Peace Days website.
Some testimonials from our implementing partners
"Year by year, Peace Days are gaining momentum. They are at once an invitation to discovery and a call to action – a unique showcase to present the general public with the inspiring and much-needed work that our members do on a daily basis to build social harmony. The great diversity of the month’s activities shows that there is much more than one way to transform our society, and that it is possible and essential for each of us to help create a better world and to do so in his or her own way."
Cloé Daguet, coordinator, Tools of Peace

"This year's Peace Days have been very rich in emotions and connections. The activities in which I participated reinforced my commitment to spreading peace as widely as possible. Thank you!"
Catherine Boulos, Friend of the Network and founder of Mouvement de Paix
"Peace Days is a mosaic where all colours have their meaning and their reasoning. Each activity is part of a harmonious whole, where all ages, ideas and personalities are listened to and welcomed. "
Rossana Bruzzone, Montréal la plus heureuse
"For the past 5 years, Pastorale Sociale has used Peace Days to reach out to our brothers and sisters of different faiths and cultures in their places of worship. For the past two years, the dynamic has been strengthened through our partnership with Rapprochement Interculturel de Villeray. The support from the Peace Network for Social Harmony has been key to the success of these interfaith exchanges, which encourage dialogue, facilitate mutual understanding, create rapprochement, and weave links of harmony that create peace and vivre-ensemble in Villeray."
Conceptie Gervé, social pastoral worker in the Villeray district
"Peace Days in Montreal highlight actions, organizations and people who contribute to peace. The activities that take place provide multiple opportunities to meet exciting people who work every day to create human bonds, living with respect for differences. This is a unique opportunity to build bridges of mutual assistance and understanding, based in exemplary values that lay the foundation for a better world. "
Gabriela Guilbault Maltez, Executive Director, Femmes Internationales Murs Brisés Canada

Interfaith and inter-cultural dialogue 
(Photos, from left to right
. Public sukkah in Outremont presented by Friends of Hutchison Street
. "Prayer led by various faith communities for the unity of citizens" by pastorale sociale de Côte-des-Neiges 
  - Photo credit: Michael Abril 
Providing opportunities for dialogue and mutual understanding between cultural and religious communities is an essential element in Peace Days programming.  The activities in this category allow organizations and communities interested in promoting diversity and inclusion to collaborate and connect with one other. This year, Jewish, Sufi, Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Christian communities actively participated in Peace Days, as they shared their cultural and religious practices, with a view to peace, equality and greater vivre-ensemble. Whether by visiting places of worship, sitting in on a panel discussion, or attending educational, cultural and spiritual gatherings, Montrealers had the opportunity to learn and exchange about rituals, beliefs and perceptions that may differ from their own, but where difference is appreciated and common values are recognized.
(Photos, from left to right
. Interfaith walk by Ahuntsic Social Ministry 
. Interfaith walk by Villeray Social Ministry 
. "Modern Man and Peace: A Sufi Perspective" by M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi School of Islamic Sufism
. "Exclusion and Embrace: The Call to Commnunity in a Changing World" by Montreal City Mission and
   St. James United Church 

Awareness-raising campaigns
Through social media, websites, and educational programs, awareness-raising campaigns featuring stimulating, inspiring and sometimes surprising content were part of Peace Days  again this year.  This included: a YouTube video aimed at countering racism, using humour to generate reflection and dialogue; educational materials that invited people to take empathic action, to be caring and to think through stereotypes; a campaign to promote non-violence within our communities; and an online effort to recognize some tremendous peace builders within our communities.
Workshops and public lectures
"Peace Journey - An optimistic writing workshop" by Montréal la plus Heureuse
"The Great Peace of Montreal and Respect for Self-Expression" by PAAL, partageons le monde
This year’s Peace Days activities included numerous returning partners as well as organizations and institutions that were first-timers. Many of these organizations and institutions also generated partnership with one another, having met through their involvement with Peace Days. For a fourth year, the Dawson Peace Centre ran its own Peace Week ahead of September 21st, offering students and the general public a diverse calendar of activities, some of which were included as part of Peace Days programming. Topics discussed at Dawson and at other workshops and public lectures featured in Peace Days included: disabilities as an element of diversity and inclusion; inclusive practices related to individuals identifying as LGBTQI+; indigenous traditions; the arts as tools for social change; the role of diplomacy in international peacemaking; and the practice of meditation and yoga as a movement for peace. These conferences, testimonials, discussions, lectures, and meditative and artistic activities provided participants with informative and deeply moving experiences.
(Photos, from left to right
"PEACE: Ceremony of Yoga" by Organik Corporate Health
"Inclusive Practices, Allies and LGBTQI+ Identities" by the Centre for Research and Cultural and Community     Activities for Diversity - Photo Credit: Michael Abril
"Meditation and Yoga for Peace" by Fondation l'Art de vivre and McCord Museum - Photo credit: Michael Abril
. "Oath of Humanity Evening" by FIMB Canada

Festive and public outreach activities
(Photos, from left to right
. "Dancing 5@7... for peace!" by Silent Disco Squad
"Citizen Picnic at Frédéric-Back" Park by TOHU
. "Festive Public Event" by Collectif 21 septembre - Photo credit: Gilles Pilette
.  Artistic Potluck Dinner for Peace by Antennes de Paix in collaboration with                                                                  Pastorale sociale Petite-Patrie - Photo credit: Gilles Pilette
Peace provides people with a sense of joy, well-being, serenity, warmth and so much more! For the 2019 edition of Peace Days, the “Festive and public outreach” category included activities that were based around food, dance, self-expression, music, intercultural encounters, and artistic creations. Our many innovative and dedicated partners on the ground offered a tremendous array of opportunities to celebrate and share in a safe, inclusive and supportive environment.

Exhibitions, theatrical productions, and film screenings 
(Photos, from left to right
"Tell Me about the Harmony of the World" by Sacred Fire Productions Photo credit: Michael Abril
. Photo exhibit "Montréal, Land of Artists" including encounter with artist Damian Siqueiros by Latinarte
. Theatrical Premiere of "Chewdaism: A Taste of Jewish Montreal" by YidLife Crisis  and Cinéma du Parc - Photo credit: Michael Abril
. Vernissage and Presentation of the "Peace and Non-Violence" Art Exhibition by Café Floraison and the Academy of Non-Violence - Photo credit: Gilles Pilette
Again this year, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts enriched Peace Days with exhibitions on topical issues such as identity, colonialism, feminism, and immigration. Various other organizations also invited the public to take part in thought-provoking exhibitions, productions and screenings related to multiculturalism, black women and civil rights, anti-Semitism, and non-violence. The Silk Road Institute presented a play that provided insights into the reality of two young Muslim women living in London.  Montrealers were also invited to a vernissage of paintings all of which had peace as their central theme, and to see the drawings of a group of school-age children working to become “peace ambassadors.” Another activity presented tales, myths and legends from Indigenous culture. 
                       Peace Film Soirée: Presentation of the FNC Peace Prize and screening of the film "Woman"                                - Photo credit: FNC / Maryse Boyce
For the second straight year, the Peace Network for Social Harmony joined forces with the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma to promote films from FNC’s “International Panorama” section.  Peace Days concluded with the screening of the documentary “Woman,” directed by Anastasia Mikova and Yann Arthus-Bertrand, which involved interviews with 2000 women from 50 countries, creating a cinematic oeuvre that helped us better appreciate the great accomplishments and the terrible realities of women from around the world.  This tremendous film and the Peace Film Soirée associated to it were a perfect way to conclude Peace Days 2019.

Commemorative events
(Photos, from left to right
. Performance by artist Nina Segalowitz - Photo credit: Sylvain Légaré
. The three panelists: Nermine Barbouch, Enoch Joseph, Selma Koudri - Photo credit: Michael Abril 
. Performance by artists Nina Segalowitz and Lydia Etok - Photo credit: Michael Abril
For a fifth consecutive year, the Peace Network for Social Harmony collaborated with the City of Montreal to hold an event commemorating the International Day of Peace.  At a thoughtful and festive 5 à 7, Magda Popeanu, head of culture and diversity in Montreal, and Brian Bronfman, President of the Peace Network, spoke of the significance of the day, the important role that peace plays in our lives, and this year’s Peace Days programming.  The event included a panel of three peace builders – Selma Kouidri of the National Institute for Equity, Equality and Inclusion, Nermine Barbouch of the Amal Centre for Women, and Enoch Joseph of Montreal’s International Junior Chamber of Commerce – who answered the question: "How is my difference my strength, and how does it contribute to the development of Montreal society?" Their answers proved to be most inspiring and greatly appreciated by those in attendance.  The event concluded with amazing throat singing by Inuit musical artists Nina Segalowitz and Lydia Etok.  On top of all that, the networking that took place helped to forge and solidify links among the event’s participating individuals and organizations.
YMCA Peace Medals Gala Dinner
Gregory Charles, Yvons Deschamps and Judi Richards
The other activity in this category was the YMCA Peace Medal Gala Dinner. More than 500 guests took part in this exceptional evening hosted by Gregory Charles and honoring exemplary citizens and organizations committed to building peace in our communities.  An honorary medal was also awarded to Judi Richards and Yvon Deschamps in light of their commitment to youth and involvement with the NGO Artistes pour la Paix.

In reading about the activities that formed Peace Days 2019 and looking at photos taken at some of them, we hope you get a sense of how rich and varied the programming was.  With 70 activities geared to peace, diversity and inclusion, Peace Days presented a multitude of exciting opportunities to meet, learn and exchange around peace.  Without our implementing partners and financial supporters, none of this could happen.  On behalf of the entire team at the Peace Network for Social Harmony, we wish to warmly thank all those peace actors who have contributed in one way or another to this precious work.  Peace does not happen by chance; it is built on a daily basis through thoughts and actions, and Peace Days is an opportunity to shine a spotlight on their value and their importance to our quality of life, as they are the backbone to building a welcoming, caring and inclusive society.  As such, we invite you to take part in next year’s edition of Peace Days, thereby playing your part in encouraging and supporting the wonders that are peace and social harmony in our society!

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