The YMCA of Greater Vancouver hosted the thirteenth annual YMCA Power of Peace Awards at the Robert Lee YMCA. The unique, youth-focused event celebrated peacemakers in our community. Co-hosted by past and present YMCA Peace Award nominees who facilitated lively discussions about peace and shared inspirational tales with attendees, the night was capped off with the announcement of 2010 winners.
Since 1987, YMCA Peace Medals have been awarded locally, and YMCAs across Canada have recognized International Peace Week in November since 1983.
“The YMCA believes in celebrating those among us who are leading the way to a better world,” said Bill Stewart, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver. We are proud to celebrate all nominees, nominated by their peers for their unique efforts to make the world a better place and to influence others to do the same. They work in their own communities and elsewhere around the world: bringing people together, lobbying for change and in some instances, putting their own lives on the line. Each of them does so without resources or recognition, but with the huge reward of making a real difference.”
The 2010 Power of Peace Award Recipients
1) Local/International Peacemaker – Alden Habacon
Alden Habacon is an active peacemaker who engages Canadians of all ages and backgrounds in a dialogue about diversity in a way that promotes understanding, mutual respect and equality. He is influential because his ideas around “Diversity 2.0” are helping to bring forward a fresh approach to the national discourse that defines Canadians beyond race and ethnicity. His ideas are influencing a generation of changemakers who are excited about the possibilities of creating a more respectful and peaceful world. Among his many accomplishments, Alden is founder and publisher of Schema Magazine. His work with the Asian Canadian Journalists Association, CBC and UBC reflects his impact. He actively mentors young people and is a founding board member of RESPECT, a group working to create opportunities for Filipino-Canadian newcomers.
2) Emerging Young Leader Peacemaker – Free the Children, Western Office
Since 2008, Free the Children’s Western Office in Vancouver has provided support to the hundreds of schools and youth across Western Canada to engage in local and global initiatives. Local students have partnered with communities in Ecuador, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, India and rural China. Free the Children also focuses youth efforts at home. In the past two years, 34,000 students from over 200 schools have attended WE Day Vancouver to celebrate the power of young people to change the world. Working with Free the Children, ninety students from Templeton Secondary School successfully adopted local households, helping to rake leaves, shovel snow, carry groceries and a host of other activities. In addition, they collected 8,000 canned food items for the Greater Vancouver food bank and held a talent show that raised $1,500 for the Strathcona Community School’s Breakfast Program.
The YMCA and Peace
All YMCA programs and services develop people through a commitment to building character and promote core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Through our global awareness and peace work, we celebrate our diversity and achievements and inspire others to create positive change.
Internationally, the YMCA works to build peace in creative ways. From helping Israeli and Palestinian children in the middle east deal with conflict to introducing a Pace, Reconciliation and Reconstruction Program in Sri Lanka, the YMCA has played a prominent role in conflict resolution and quality of life around the world.
“YMCA World Peace Week reminds us that any act of peace is a step in the right direction, and inspires others to do the same,” said , YMCA’s General Manager of Community Services & International Development. “As technology continues to connect people around the world, teaching children and youth to be socially responsible, to actively pursue peace-building activities and to appreciate cultural diversity is vital for a peaceful future.”
The 2010 Power of Peace Nominees
Local/International Peacemaker Category
Brent Granby and West End Resident’s Association (WERA) – President of WERA since 2006, Brent Granby is instrumental in the West End community advocating for civic engagement and the creation of public spaces. Tirelessly, he engages citizens in peaceful public discourse on social equity and environmental sustainability.
Angie Mapara Osachoff – Angie is passionate about representing peaceful youth voices and has worked with a variety of organizations including Equitas, UNESCO, and the YMCA, to teach peacebuilding, human rights, and fair conflict resolution.
Semiahmoo Rotary Club – International Committee – Since 1989, this group of Rotarians has been dedicated to creating long-lasting peaceful change, most recently collaborating with Progressive Cooperatives Haiti to establish basic agricultural business structure and literacy skills to sustain rural communities in Haiti.
Amber Houssian – Co-founder of SocDoc Studios, Amber and her partner Avi Goldstein have created a series of films which promote cross-cultural understanding, equality, and human rights as tools to end violence and war in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Amber is dedicated to creating peace one friendship at a time, and she is walking the talk.
Shanti Uganda – From the Sanskrit word for “peace”, Vancouver based Shanti Uganda is dedicated to bringing the healing power of community to those affected by the trauma of 23 years of war and violence in Uganda, and advocating for an entire generation that has never known peace.
Sarah Youngblutt – Sarah is committed to helping build connections, trust, and empowerment in Cambodia, a country ravaged by genocide and civil war. Sarah has breathed life back into a Cambodian archaeological university so that Cambodians can reclaim their cultural heritage.
Jennifer Sterne-Pownall – The key to peace for Jennifer is a commitment to small but significant daily actions. After an inspiring weight-loss journey, Jennifer exemplifies making peace a constant priority, hoping to achieve goals including making 1000 origami cranes and paddling for Wild Salmon.
Emerging Young Leader Category
Anita Tavra – Anita is determined to help youth fight for equality, obtain an education, and work toward reconciliation. Anita co-founded a global youth-focused organization and planned a multi-city youth summit bringing together 100 youth from 13 countries in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Ivo Haggerty – Ivo has overcome immense personal tragedy, now a prominent community and youth leader with LOVE facilitating dialogue and action to reduce youth violence in his community of Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories.
Zoe Lawler – Organizer of her high school’s “Change Revolution” benefit concert which raised $6000 to support people in Darfu and Ghana, and initiator of anti-bullying workshops in her school, Zoe is a mature and strong youth leader in her community who exemplifies peaceful leadership.
Canadian Red Cross Global Issues Symposium for Youth – For 26 years, the Canadian Red Cross has challenged high school students in BC to empathize with the daily realities of many people across the world. Students are inspired to take peaceful action as essential agents of change in their community.
Krissi Bucholtz – Founder of the organization Planning for the Elimination of Poverty through Love and Education (PEOPLE Foundation), Krissi works in Sierra Leone to educate youth on HIV/AIDS and sexual abuse and advocate for access to higher education.
Signi Solmundson email@example.com