Peace rally is all about respecting diversity

PETERBOROUGH In the cold snap of a winter afternoon, bobbing peace signs and frozen breath clouds drift into Confederation Park.

The weekly Peterborough peace rally – weekly since the invasion of Iraq lead by the U.S. and Britain – has ebbed and flowed in numbers. Today, the numbers ebb compared to the last couple of weeks.

Jovanne Soligo from the New Canadians Centre is one of those numbers, a fluorescent green ‘Find Peaceful Solutions’ sign in hand as she waits for more participants to stream into the park.

“We have to build peace,” says Soligo. “It’s about cultivating a feeling that we’re not alone, wherever we might be in the world,” she explains.

Soligo says the rally can’t stop the war from occurring, but it can “build community” right here. “This leads to peace in our time, so this is about far more than Iraq,” she says.

The rally participant says the biggest threat to peace, locally, is not getting to know one’s neighbours. “We have a large immigrant population here – and it’s a population that many of us choose not to see,” says Soligo.

“Every month new people come here so there are so many potential relationships to draw on,” she explains.

It is those personal relationships that Soligo says make all the difference for preserving peace time. “Making peaceful choices each day, working on personal relationships. That’s the big picture,” she says.

Kevin Siena protests the war on Iraq

Kevin Siena is disappointed with the turnout in the park. The history professor from Trent University is holding a ‘No Blood For Oil’ sign and ruminating on the state of the peace movement. “It seems the energy of the peace movement has deflated now that the war has begun. People feel they can’t do anything and that’s a shame,” he says.

Siena says the bombs falling should mean they have twice as many people in the park, not less. “This isn’t the right message to send (dwindling numbers),” he says.

The professor says even after the war is over he’s hoping a lot of local community networks will stay in place, as well as those networks developed that connect the world. “The key will be to keep people involved. I know I need to step up my own commitments to involve myself more, too” Siena says.

Siena says at a time when the U.S. is seeing the world as an opportunity for expansion of its presence, it is especially necessary to be vigilant. “I suspect there will be another U.S. invasion. So we have to be aware of the world and aware of ourselves and our own community in the coming months ahead.”

Peace rally participants leave Confederation Park for a downtown march








"One should never allow chaos to develop in order to avoid going to war, because one does not avoid a war but instead puts it off to his disadvantage"
— Niccolo Machiavelli


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