YMCA Peace Week

"...Peace has many dimensions. It is not only a state of relationships among nations. We cannot expect to live in a world of peace if we are unable to live in peace with those close to us—even those who differ from us...the responsibility for peace begins with each person, in relationship with family and friends, and extends to community life and national activities..." YMCA Statement of Peace, World Alliance of YMCAs, 1981

What is Peace Week?

YMCA Peace Week is a movement to educate Canadians about peace in all dimensions. For 30 years, YMCA Peace Week has offered activities that help children, youth and adults explore peace from personal, community and global perspectives. This year, Peace Week celebrations will take place from November 19-26.

YMCA peace week logo

YMCA Peace Medallion

Each year, YMCAs across Canada celebrate acts of peace by recognizing individuals and groups, who, without any special resources, status, wealth or position, have demonstrated a commitment to building peace within their community or communities elsewhere in the world. During YMCA Peace Week, taking place from November 19-26, 2016, local peacemakers will receive special recognition and a medallion at Peace Medallion ceremonies across Canada.

Nominations for 2016 Peace Medallion recipients are now closed. Best of luck to all the nominees!

2015 YMCA Peace Medallion Recipients

    Simrat was born in the United Kingdom; her family moved to Mississauga, Ontario in 2011. While Simrat is like any grade 12 student, she stands out among most young women her age due to her extraordinarily impactful community work in advocating for change in how young girls treat one another.

    Simrat has one goal with the community building work she is engaged in, and that is to end girl on girl bullying. She is doing this by reaching out to community partners, delivering inspiring presentations, and both speaking with and listening to the experience of young women in our community.

    Simrat’s efforts in this area have deeply personal roots. At seven years old she experienced the onset of a rare facial disorder called Romberg’s Syndrome. Throughout her school years in the UK, she was a victim of horrific bullying by her peers. She has turned this experience into an opportunity to build peace in her community and beyond.

    Simrat shares the raw and uncomfortable feelings of how ugly bullying is in our world. Simrat forces her audience to question why women and girls engage in such behaviour and how incredibly painful and impactful it is on an individual. Simrat is inspiring in her ability to creatively engage others (particularly young girls who have been bullied or who have bullied others) to understand the perspective of being a victim of bullying and also how to overcome this adversity, be resilient, and carry on with strength and joy in their life (only further promoting peace).

    Simrat’s goal is to reach as many people as possible to spread this message. She does so by speaking in front of a variety of audiences that span many walks of life: the medical community, mental health community, high school students and educators. She motivates people to stop, think, and reflect and thus act differently.

Kavita was born in Canada but spent a portion of her childhood growing up in a suburb of New Delhi, India. It was during this time that Kavita was exposed to poverty and social injustices, as well as educational opportunities that empowered women through her mother’s civic engagement. Kavita was inspired to take action on both a global and local scale through voluntarism, co-founding a non-profit organization and initiating an annual event taking place each year on International Women’s Day.

Kavita founded an awareness organization called We Talk Women which provides a platform for open dialogue on topics directly impacting women such as female genital mutilation, trafficking, child marriage, peace and missing Aboriginal women. Kavita organizes events that engage the community through documentary screenings and guest speakers on previously mentioned topics. Kavita has brought attention to a number of issues impacting women locally and globally through her online outreach and events. We Talk Women was born out of participation in a campaign called ‘Join me on the Bridge’. This campaign began in 2010 when women from Congo and Rwanda joined together on a bridge connecting their countries; demanding peace. ‘Join me on the Bridge’ in an effort to show solidarity and the capacity of women to mend bridges of peace and create stronger communities.

Raising awareness and disseminating information does not often have a tangible impact but she has successfully engaged people that were not already engaged in women’s rights issues. They are reading blogs, sharing stats and attending events therefore Kavita has managed to raise their level of consciousness. She has recently started a new program with a local shelter where she works to connect women living there with nature by leading walks. The program is being well received and she hopes to do this at other shelters as well.