In Halifax, Nova Scotia at Mount Saint Vincent University, on a warm evening on July 7, a peace conference began with some introductory remarks from Alexa McDonough who is the Chair of the conference. Being the Change: Building a Culture of Peace runs from July 7 until July 10 with over 100 participants at the conference.
The first event of the conference set a great tone for the days ahead with an engaging talk show style dialogue between 12 year old Logan MacGillivray, a human rights activist and filmmaker and Alyn Ware (who won the Right Livelihood award in 2009 for his contributions to the world and peace). In 2008 Logan wanted to make a difference after he saw pictures of the hardship faced by children in Sierra Leone. With from the Centre for Development and Peace Education he found out what was needed in Sierra Leone. He lead the effort to fill a 40 foot shipping container with materials to refurbish seven schools and build a community resource centre in Sierra Leone. He also made a documentary animation called Listen to the Children - A Journey of Sharing and continues to raise money for projects in Sierra Leone.
To thank Logan for the dialogue, Alyn took out a guitar and sang a song in Maori about trees whose roots grow together to give them strength against storms.
Alyn Ware (director of the Wellington office of the Peace Foundation) traced his journey from being a kindergarten teacher to a peace educator and activist. Moving from education and linking conflict resolution in schools and on playgrounds with conflict between nations, he showed the importance of education and discussion in making the world a safer place for everyone. In his talk he took us through the amazing progress that has been made in making the world a more peaceful place through education and activism. Now disarmament is not a radical issue at all and in New Zealand you need to support disarmament to be elected.
While much has changed, there is still a lot of work to do and that's what will be discussed and acted upon during the conference over the next few days.