This year the event was held in Jean Pigott Place, inside Ottawa City Hall, on Saturday September 26 from 11am to 3.30pm. And what an event took place. Onstage the mellow harmonies from The Valley Men choir set the scene, followed by Romy Mounzer – Ottawa’s answer to Whitney Houston. Lalith Gunaratne spoke eloquently about reconciliation in Sri Lanka, a model to break down barriers and cross bridges of hatred and separation. The string ensemble from OrKidstra dazzled, as did the Awards and Peace Grant ceremony that honored the work of Jurme Wangda for Tibetan Resettlement and to Coleen Scott for providing education and opportunity for the Karen people in Thailand.
The Circle of All Nations was a reality – represented by cultures, faiths, languages from across the planet. Kirtan from the Bhakti Connection, exquisite harp from Lucille Hildesheim and the Diversity of Color Miramba band brought the music and dance of Zimbabwe to close this year’s event at Ottawa City Hall. It was a fabulous day with the best ever performances. Everything excelled. We honored our elders, the many communities and the terrific volunteers who make it all possible. The support that poured in was unbelievable – donations to the Servery and Silent Auction by the diversity of Ottawa was heartfelt. Folk left full – not just with great food and bargains – but with a feeling that “YES” we can do it.
Friends for Peace is moving into a different focus, rather than the Friends for Peace Day, which takes up a lot of time and energy. We have decided to focus on specific projects with other organizations. For instance our first collaboration is with two church groups who are organizing events and awareness to bring Syrian refugee families to Ottawa. This is specific and the organizers are committed to making change. While the Friends for Peace Day provided great entertainment and brought community together – I would like to see more of a knock on effect. That – yes – folk are moving into action. So we are entering a new phase, which I think will be exciting and more effective. Stay tuned.