The social justice goals of Culture of Peace Hamilton based on an interview with Gail Rappolt, one of its founding members
an article by Kathryn Ani-Otoibhi
Begun in April 2000 based on the UNESCO Manifesto
2000 Six Principles “To Create a Decade of Peace
for the Children and Youth of the World” by long
time Hamilton peace activist Joy Warner and Dr.
Graeme MacQueen who helped found the Centre for
Peace Studies at McMaster University; Culture of
Peace Hamilton (CoPH) was formed to facilitate
peace throughout the Hamilton community.
Gail Rappolt, left, and Ray Cunnington, right
click on photo to enlarge
Though there is no formal board governing the work
of CoPH, Gail acts as a communications coordinator
for the organization. She hopes CoPH will still be
alive and vibrant as a concept in future. In the
next 10 years, her goal is to see that the
Hamilton City Council, schools, cultural groups
and businesses use and understand the six
principles of the UNESCO Manifesto 2000 as a
common language for working toward social justice.
Gail describes the term ‘social justice’ in two
parts. Social, refers to human dignity, respect
and kindness that exist in the smallest possible
ways within communities and relationships. Justice
refers to treating people with fairness and in a
way that is in accordance with their needs.
Therefore, social justice is about treating people
equitably with respect and human dignity, and
recognizing that people’s needs vary.
The Social Geography Project was designed by CoPH
as a step towards the creation of a Commission on
the Culture of Peace. It is a research project
where approximately 200 social justice leaders in
Hamilton are interviewed about their organization
and personal goals for social justice. This
project would create a set of benchmarks on which
to measure growth towards a culture of peace
within the city. The Social Geography Project
would track improvements such as reduction in
child poverty, increased use of public transport,
and reduction in loss of arable farmland.
According to Gail, “the six principles called to
me as ways I try to live my life. My role in this
life is to be of service to the greater good of
humanity.” By setting agendas, planning activities
and overseeing the work of student interns and
volunteers, Gail works towards making the Hamilton
community a place where a culture of peace
For Gail, social justice as prescribed by CoPH
suggests that everyone treat people according to
their needs and abide by the six peace principles
in order to promote a peaceful community. To quote
Karen Johnsen, a former judge in Peterborough,
Gail notes, “If you want peace, work for justice.”
Question(s) related to this article:
A decade of peace-building in Hamilton, what is its history?
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LATEST READER COMMENT:
Here’s a bit of history.
On Sept. 19, 2000, 12 months before the twin towers fell in New York, The Hamilton Spectator devoted a page to a new idea from the United Nations. “The nature of a ‘Culture of Peace.’ Can it come to Hamilton? How can it make a difference?”
Among the 10 positive messages in the paper that day, the president of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce wrote: “May I be the first of our 1,700 members representing 1,150 businesses and organizations employing 75,000 people to give you my pledge?”
At the start of this millennium there was plenty of optimism. The world held its breath in the hope that the new century would not be blemished by the great wars that had blighted the lives of so many families and loved ones in the century before.
In Paris, a group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates drafted six simple principles to help create peace. The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the year 2000 the International Year for the Culture of Peace, and declared the ten years 2001 to 2010 the International Decade for the Culture of Peace. The Six Principles were published under the title, Manifesto 2000.
Although 75 million people around the world pledged to follow these principles, few North Americans or Europeans really heard about them. Within a few short months, the messages of peace and nonviolence were obliterated by a devastating attack on the U.S., wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and a spreading culture of fear.
In Hamilton, a number of individuals staunchly supported the UN initiative from the beginning. A group, called Culture of Peace Hamilton, decided to spread the manifesto’s six principles and apply them locally. . ...more.