I have always thought of the present millennium as the century of the daughters. Not so much as a gender separate thing, but as attributes of a holistic, nurturing presence of mind. This is why, when researching my book Trailing Sky Six Feathers, I began my exploration of the Sedona region of Arizona with Oak Creek River – the feminine face of Water. This was one component of the Five Great Elements in Buddhist thought that I was familiar with: Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Space. I understood the sequence as the correspondence of all things to each other driven by the feminine vessel of enlightenment. Always, I waded into the water so I could feel with my feet the pulse of the arteries of the entire area. I would lie down on larger, flat, dry rocks in midstream or perch atop rock rills and watch the water swirl around my feet, feeling a great sense of familiarity with the universal feminine through this dramatic and melodious river.
This connection with the feminine was naturally carried into my peace activism. I have been musing about this, particularly reflecting on the annual Ottawa Friends for Peace Day – now in its 13th year. I realized 15 years ago, when I founded Friends for Peace that I was making a conscious choice to focus my energy and work on the local, my home city of Ottawa. My focus was on mindfulness in schools, city environment, youth at risk and above all else – on the empowerment of women. I am astonished by the results – more true to say “blown away.” For at the local level there was continuity with great women who helped make things happen. There is now a two week Peace Festival in Ottawa that precedes the Friends for Peace Day – which has become the final bookend of the Festival. It has all grown in ever increasing concentric circles. The foundation of mindfulness and the empowerment of women through the 50 organizations we partner with have taken root in our northern city. All use some form of the Friends for Peace mandate – peace, planetary care and social justice.
Each year Friends for Peace presents Peace Awards to Canadian citizens who have devoted their lives to securing peace, planetary care and social justice. The majority of the Peace Award recipients are women. The funds raised from the day are used to issue Peace Grants to organizations, in Ottawa and internationally, and we make a point of honouring women who run organizations that make a significant difference. In particular we have supported youth organizations to burst on to the local scene guided by magnificent people – I refer to these friends as Kick Ass women. For instance Orkidstra is led by Tina Fedeski –www.leadingnotefoundation.org – which she established in September 2007. It gives children from under-served communities the opportunity to learn a musical instrument and sing in a choir. They are creating a quiet social revolution in the city. The Dandelion Dance Company is the creation of Hannah Beach – www.hannahbeach.com/dandelion – this Ottawa based youth dance theatre company explores social issues through movement. Their repertoire is driven by the experiences, reflections and passion of young women who range in age from ages 13 to 19, and include children’s rights, hunger, authenticity, bullying, stereotypes and inclusiveness. Both youth organizations perform regularly at the Friends for Peace Day.
The drive is to foster a strong cadre of people in the locality of Ottawa who make a difference and women are in the forefront of this endeavour.
Dr. Ian Prattis
Ian is an award winning author, scholar, peace and environmental activist. As a Professor of Anthropology and Religion he taught courses on Ecology, Symbols, Globalisation and Consciousness. As a meditation teacher he encourages people to find their true nature, so that humanity and the world may be renewed. Ian is a Zen Teacher, giving talks and retreats round the world.
For Further Intel: http://ianprattis.com/Profile.html