Minutes of KW Peace and Social Justice Community Symposium, 29 October 2015

Event announcement: Kitchener Waterloo Peace and Social Justice Community Symposium, 29 October 2015

5:30pm, Centre for Peace Advancement, Conrad Grebel University College


  • Katie Gingerich (Peace Camp)
  • Matt Albrecht (Nonviolence Festival)
  • Roger Albrecht (Nonviolence Festival)
  • Sue Klassen (Stirling Ave Mennonite Church Social Justice Working Group
  • Bob Jonkman (Fairvote Canada, KW Peace Blog)
  • Mary Ann Nafzinger – (Quakers)
  • Margaret Jackson – (Amnesty International Group 9)
  • Paul Hiedebrecht (Centre for Peace Advancement)
  • Emily Mininger (PeaceQuest)
  • Dwyer Sullivan (PeaceQuest, Educators for Justice, Camp Micah)
  • Colin Read (PeaceQuest)

What are some challenges you’ve encountered in your work?

  • Peace is such a wide umbrella, there are a wide range of issues and causes people are working for
  • Don’t typically think of ourselves as an “Ecosystem” but people pursuing goals in isolation
    • Busy in our own areas and don’t know who else to support or how to support them
    • Different types of work are “siloed” in their own areas
  • We have the same ideals but different agendas, different ideas of how to achieve those goals. It’s easy to get stuck with your “agenda” and not work with others who have a different way of doing things or a different cause they’re working for
    • In our society, typical narratives are aggressive and competitive, but we need to have a more collaborative view. It’s ok to get messy. Even getting together can be a success
  • It can be a challenge to coordinate groups, need someone to spearhead coordination
  • Challenging to reach out to the community and engage people that aren’t the “usual suspects”
    • People don’t always have a sense of meaning- they get distracted by everyday life
  • Everything costs, especially space. Hard to find free or affordable space to use and meet
    • Quaker space at 298 Frederick is rented at cost, and Nonviolence fest has used the Unitarian Church for 1 event a year before
  • In grassroots organizations there are often 1 or 2 people who are lynch pins, and if they disappear the work goes with them.
  • War and poverty are decreasing globally, but how are we as a KW community having a global impact?
  • Outside North America in places where there is more oppression, more people come out to events and demonstrations. Here there’s a sort of numbness, less motivated
    • In Bolivia, the president actually got it signed into law that the country can’t go to war or use violence to solve its problems. Also personifies the environment
  • People don’t remember how effective nonviolence impact can be, even though the Civil Rights movement was just active in this past century

CPA has a project they’re planning to launch by the end of fall, which maps the Canadian Peacebuilding sector

  • Organizations are invited to have a profile on this website. The onus is on the participants to maintain
  • Starting with a core set of members in the beginning and then will expand
  • Resource for new organizations to get a sense of what’s happening already
  • Give people looking to get involved (students/peace activists) places to look for jobs and volunteer opportunities
  • More for the national level, probably not the most useful on the local KW level

Are there strengths of the KW community?

  • Large faith groups that have peace as core values contribute to peace activities in the region
  • It’s a medium sized city- enough people to have things going on but not too many like Toronto
  • You can encounter people who aren’t the “usual suspects” who still promote peace as a strong value and see KW as a hub for peace activities
  • Nonviolence festival hasn’t noticed much fertility though
    • There are individuals who care and get involved but they come and go
    • Hard to find a solid group of committed individuals that are consistently involved
    • Had an event which had many great films from all over, but not many people came
    • Partly because the theme of nonviolence isn’t sexy/exciting. However nonviolence festival used that work as peace and be twisted and redefined in other ways
  • It’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t, what will draw people

How do you measure success?

  • Success stories
    • Fairvote – They have events and speakers regularly. A recent event on electoral reform had 60 people come out and was very successful.
    • PeaceQuest- “Is War Really Black and White” Panel event discussing the complexities of war, had about 50 people out and it was really successful, good discussion
    • Peace Camp – this spring they had over 120 school workshops to schools in both districts (Catholic and Public). Reached 2,500 students grades 3-8. It’s a free program, so a mix of engaged and unengaged students and teachers
      • Talk about restorative practices in schools as well
    • KW Walk-In Clinic- Had drop in appointments and demand exploded. The people who come are the most economically disadvantaged
    • Nonviolence Festival – Day in the park. Have the festival in the park so people just wander by and engage, everyone there is a volunteer so it just feels pure and has a good energy
    • Amnesty International – letter writing campaign has had positive grassroots results
  • How do you evaluate activities beyond just looking at the attendance numbers
    • For the day of peace, the CPA hosted a panel event, which was a great event with different perspectives and panelists who worked together and complimented each other well. So why did only 70-75 people show up?
    • Have to think about broader impacts
      • Panelists engaged with each other
      • There was a student there who was very moved and looking for ways to get involved in this issue as a result of the event
    • Anytime you’re talking about something meaningful is a success
    • Nonviolence Festival event – 1000 Poets for Change – only 6 people showed up, but they really engaged and talked about something important. You have to think of the power of the individual
      • Story about the power of 1- There was a young woman whose father was a minister. He arranged an event with a speaker from El Salvador but there was a snowstorm so only 2 people attended. The speaker still gave the talk and the minister came home and talked to his daughter. Later she went to El Salvador, motivated by the story from the speaker, was arrested and got national attention in Canada. Now she’s speaking across Canada.
    • Sometimes you don’t do something to attract crowds, but because it’s right
  • What are ways to be more successful/engaging?
    • Think of ways to make events/services more accessible
    • Think of how people can get to events and maybe provide transportation (bus tickets)
    • Provide food
    • Give a stipend
    • Dedicated/consistent presence in the community
    • Have accessible steady hours, can just drop by when they need
    • Many people in need can’t volunteer their time
    • To be more accessible, have a common space that people know, predictable times, and open to everyone/anyone
    • A place such as the Working Centre is very successful because it’s accessible

Ideas for moving forward

  • Communication is a good start, but you have to keep going and build a base. Becomes more legitimate if you start meeting and doing activities/initiatives
  • Having a web presence would allow people an entry to peace work in the area
    • Having an event calendar would help people find the information in the same location and avoid double booking
    • Bob is willing to do a mailing list and set up a website and maintain a calendar
      • Would cost approximately $150 a year for a web domain
        • Probably kwpeace.org
      • Dwyer/Educators for Justice is giving him funds to buy a domain name and start the website
      • Facebook is tricky- have to have a personal page/account to create anything
  • Important to network between groups, have mutual support to prevent burnouts
  • Quakers have been wanting to host a “peace hub” and invite people to use their space at cost
    • Willing to either host or be a part of a committee
  • Hold a quarterly meeting, have a potluck because sharing food creates a good atmosphere
    • Could be in Quaker space, Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church, or maybe chat to see if CPA would offer space
    • Should invite other non-Christian faith groups to participate as well
  • Potentially having a next meeting at November 26th, 5-7. Need to decide on location.
  • Activity: Took sticky notes, wrote on one colour things you have to offer and on another things you need

Things to Offer

Things you need

Paul Heidebrecht (CPA)

  • Canadian Peacebuliding Map
  • Peace Incubator Program
  • Connections with Mennonite Peace Organizations
  • Art gallery
  • Meeting space
  • Access to students/student groups at the University
  • Access to peace scholars
  • Mentors for Peace startups
  • Money
  • Passionate peacebuilding practitioners interested in starting new initiatives
  • Connections beyond Mennonite circles

Mary Ann Nafzinger (Quakers)

  • Many counselling skills, ability to work with trauma groups
  • Connections with different faith groups (mostly personal connections)
  • Can set up all Canada calling for $3 a month, also very cheap international rates
  • Nonviolence communication group, (Free, starting in 2016)
  • Connections, experience with grassroots community lead ventures, some funding sources
  • People and interest in developing a peace networking hub
  • Space available at affordable cost, willing to discuss other 1 time events (3 offices during business hours)
  • An active list-serv for an emerging network
  • More ways to get word out about events, people

Sue Klassen (Stirling Mennonite Church)

  • Passion and Training in Restorative Justice and Trauma Awareness and Resilience
  • Stirling Ave Mennonite Church has space for events co-sponsored by the Peace and Justice Working Group
  • Provide Liason with Stirling Ave Mennonite’s Peace and Justice Working Group
  • I like making main course food (e.g. big pots of Indian food) for events
  • Ability to reach out to others for collaboration
  • Ability to contribute to and be influenced by a calendar of Peace and Justice events

Bob Jonkman

  • Computer Skills
    • Set up a mailing list
    • Website set up
    • Calendar set up
  • Money for
    • Web site hosting ($10 a month)
    • Domain name ($20 a year)
  • Currently using a WordPress site, which isn’t very flexible

Dwyer Sullivan

  • Contact with Conscience Canada to redirect federal tax dollars away from war
  • Contacts in Waterloo Catholic School Board via Educators for Justice
  • Local peace network on internet for information of events and activities
  • Promote Camp Micah’s leadership for peace and justice to high school students (campmicah.ca)

Nonviolence Festival

  • Provide opportunity for people/groups to communicate/express and grow (by working together)
  • Need people to:
    • Help plan events/activities
    • Come out to events

Emily Mininger (PeaceQuest KW)

  • Resources from PeaceQuest Kingston, such as access to speakers, educational resources on website, event templates for peace related events
  • National link to other PeaceQuest affiliates across Canada
  • To learn from experienced people who have been doing grassroots social justice work
  • Be aware of what is going on in community so as not to duplicate efforts and work together
  • Opportunities for partnership/collaboration

Margaret Jackson

(Amnesty International Group 9 )

  • List of contacts at schools and universities to get word out to students
  • Speakers list for events
  • Partners to work on a film night

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