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REPORTING · 26th September 2013
Walter McFarlane
Kitimat Residents gathered at the High School on Saturday, September 21st for the Rotary Club’s celebration of the International Day of Peace. The event began with a procession of flags to ‘We are the World’ sang by the Kitimat Youth Choir and the shaking of hands with their neighbours.

The first speaker was Mayor Joanne Monaghan. She thanked all the people who put this together. “Today is Peace Day and throughout the world, bells are ringing and will be ringing at noon all around the world,” said Monaghan. “It is a tribute to the United Nations International Day of Peace.”

She invited everyone who was there to make peace with people they are not speaking with as a part of celebrating the Day of Peace. She invited everyone to sing out peace as Kitimat is a place where clean water is abundant, the town has never known famine, there are schools as well as a proud community spirit.

The Spirit of the Kitlope drummed their way onto stage next for their performance. Shelley Bolton was given the honour to speak on behalf of the Haisla Nation and the Spirit of the Kitlope.

“To me, [peace] means understanding, and being open minded and not passing judgment. Living my life, I try to live by these words from my Grandmother. ‘Don’t look down on anyone’, and from my sister Terry: ‘I once heard it’s not all about you,’” said Bolton.

She explained that people do not take the time to understand what people are going though at that time or in life. She expressed it is easier to pass judgement then to understand.

“I believe that we all need to understand one another and it’s not just about cultural background, it’s about understanding and trying to understand what this person is going through,” said Bolton.

The performances began. The Spirit of the Kitlope performed their Nations Song which was followed by the Kitimat Youth Choir. Zoe Guilen’s sang a song she wrote called ‘Raise a Little Peace.’ The young Portuguese Dancers got up to Dance.

There was a presentation from Brian Downey from the Terrace Rotary Club about his time serving the Salvation Army as a volunteer.

“The activities of Rotary in disaster relief is very similar, very much like the roll the salvation army as Gareen [Ball] mentioned in the introduction. The Salvation Army has a long experience of responding to disasters. Providing caring, support, providing food and supplies,” said Downey.

He put on a slideshow of disaster relief to Alberta last summer. They brought the Salvation Army Mobile Kitchen from Terrace to Alberta with a ‘tremendous cook’ and supply 300-400 meals in a setting every day.

Dan Huisman from Shelter Box got up to explain what Shelter Box is. He explained it provides a kit full of the necessary provisions to families who have lost their homes due to disasters. He explained they are currently providing Disaster Relief in places like North Korea, the Philippians and the Syria Conflict has tents pitched in Iraq and Lebanon.

The Rotary Youth read the Rotary Peace Credo. They were followed by the Kitimat Dance Academy performing Wintersong.

Eleanor Kendal got up to present the history of Peace Day in Kitimat. She explained in 2008, she went to the Rotary International Peace Summit in Windsor, Ontario. There, she saw a panelist from Australia who talked about Rotary Peace Communities. They came back to Kitimat and were inspired to bring it home.

It began in 2009 when the word got out that they were going to make a human Peace Sign. Despite a few setbacks, they all had fun. In 2010, they recognized the first school as a Rotary Peace School. That year, they released balloons with their peace wish to everyone. 2013 saw Nechako become a Rotary Peace School.

September 21st, 2012, Mayor and Council recognized Kitimat as a Rotary Peace Community. Last week, Monaghan unveiled the Peace Rock at Centennial Park. On it are the Four R’s of the Rotary Peace Credo.

The Four R’s were read and everyone sang, ‘Let there be Peace on Earth.’ They thanked everyone for the work which was done for Peace Day. Everyone was invited to proceed outside to make the human peace sign.
Photo contributed
Photo contributed