PeaceQuest aims to foster culture of peace

By Stephen Moore

REGINA — As the Canadian government plans to spend over $80 million commemorating the nation’s war history over the remainder of the decade, a group of Regina citizens has formed to ask what Canadians can do to foster a culture of peace at home and abroad.

Drawing together members of local faith communities, peace groups and other social activists, PeaceQuest Regina takes its inspiration from PeaceQuest, a group formed in Kingston in 2013 under the auspices of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul.

It will join with like-minded groups across the country to affirm peace as a core Canadian value, and to pose the crucial question of peace as the government spends millions to mark such anniversaries as the battles of Ypres and Vimy Ridge.

To begin, the group plans to sponsor an essay contest in local Regina schools asking this question: “In Canada’s quest for peace in the world, we need to . . .”

It’s a question that echoes the thoughts of Charlotte Susan Wood, Canada’s first Silver Cross Mother, who lost five sons during the First World War.

“I just can’t figure out why our boys had to go through that,” she said, as the Vimy Ridge memorial was dedicated in 1936, on the eve of the Second World War — which followed the war to end all wars.

Tragically, that war did not end all wars, but the government’s celebration of its anniversaries has offered the opportunity for Regina citizens to reflect on the reality of war.

“Anniversaries offer us the opportunity to reflect on history,” said Florence Stratton, “but we need to take the right lessons from our past. Are we going to teach our young people that war is what makes a country great, or are we going to teach them that they can be a force for peace?”

As Pope Francis said last September during a specially declared day of prayer for peace, “War always marks the failure of peace; it is always a defeat for humanity.”

Members of PeaceQuest Regina hope to stave off that failure and defeat.

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