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Culture of Peace in Hamilton, Ontario

an article by Professor Dick Preston

We in the Hamilton Culture of Peace Network are putting together a history of our accomplishments from April 2000 to now - a list of evidence that Hamilton is moving toward a Culture of Peace. This will serve us as a background document as we develop our plans for creating a web-based social geography of Hamilton's peace-related people, groups and activities. It will include events and processes in which the city, businesses, faith groups, and local NGOs have moved forward under the 6 principles listed in the Manifesto 2000. This will be just a beginning, but will demonstrate that much has happened in the city in the decade.

Following an idea of Hamilton Councilor Brian McHattie, we are now preparing a grant application to fund a facilitator/social geographer position for a substantial period of time. One task of a facilitator is to get ideas flowing between groups. From the data obtained, Hamilton's Culture of Peace Commission will identify, meet with, sensitize each to the other peace-related activities in the City, keep a running inventory of groups, their past accomplishments and future plans. This will give us the ability to assess the progress made by city agencies, NGO's, businesses and other agencies and individuals, whose activities enhance Hamilton's Culture of Peace, such as the reduction and transformation of violence, while moving to resolve/reduce destructive conflict wherever possible.

Recently we have been involved in support for a Hamilton Peace Park, adjacent to the City Hall. We have reviewed the concept plan prepared by municipal staff and find it very satisfactory. We will continue to consult with staff and council, as needed.

While Hamilton’s diverse community cannot expect conformity on every issue, all can agree that the best place to raise a child requires a culture of peace.


Question(s) related to this article:

A  decade of peace-building in Hamilton, what is its history?

What is a culture of peace city, and how does one become one?

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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. Their concept of peace was not limited to wars between nations, but included the reduction of violence at home. For more than 10 years, a nucleus of these hopeful people has attempted to build a local Culture of Peace by linking up with other Hamilton organizations that address such problems as poverty, hunger, ecology, sexism and violence. Though the word “peace” may not be how most people see their work, it is the combination of these efforts that show us what a culture of peace really is.

Unlike most rules and commandments, which largely tell people what not to do, Manifesto’s six principles make positive suggestions about what needs to be done. Unlike most UN documents these principles are not addressed to nations or powerful leaders, but to all the peoples of the world. . ...more.

This report was posted on September 20, 2009.

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