Peace – The Exhibition

Peace – The Exhibition                                                         Ian Prattis

It is a long and winding road that led to the peace exhibition at the Canadian War Museum, which will run to January 5, 2014. The initial conversation opened a decade ago with Physicians for Global Survival, the Quakers – supported by Friends for Peace – pitching to the museum director the idea of Canadian soldiers going to war to enable peace for their families. The conversation continued with the Canadian Department of Peace group taking a lead role. They found support in a historian who liked the basic idea. The curator of “Peace – The Exhibition” is Dr. Amber Lloydlangsten and she and her team did a terrific job putting it together with very diverse themes.

The exhibition is impressive and extensive with many surprises. A clock from the destruction of Hiroshima, a blue beret from the first UN peacekeeping mission, a World War I Victoria Cross medal awarded to a Canadian stretcher bearer to mention only a few.

There is a station where you can make your own Peace Button – great attraction for kids. Also an art gallery of peace with a tour to see how art reflects the themes of the exhibit. A highlight for me was the attention paid to the Great Peace Law of the Iroquois Confederacy. How it came about and how it is relevant to the present day negotiation between aboriginal peoples and Canadian Institutions.  Treaty 7 provides an elaborate case study. The debate is opened up about Canada’s role as a peace keeping nation with a chart showing different options and outcomes.  The mantle that Canada has worn since Lester Pearson’s days has been diminished since Mr. Harper became Prime Minister of Canada. Do we want a change? That is the question raised in a very challenging way. War is not sanitized, neither is the protest movement nor the peace keeping role. We see how Canadians throughout their history have negotiated, organized and intervened for peace. Interactive stations about Haiti, Afghanistan, the Sudan and more, plus play stations for children to grasp the issues are there to encourage them to think and reflect what they want to see in a future Canada.

I hope teachers make this exhibit a must see locale for school trips. The Peace Exhibition is very well put together. I cannot think of any War Museum in the world that has such an emphasis on peace processes. Peace is a vital part of the story of Canada and it is still evolving and diverse. I encourage everyone to pay a visit – and take children. A Peace Button awaits them!

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