A nationwide celebration of peace
YMCA Peace Week is a movement to educate Canadians about peace in all dimensions. This year, Peace Week celebrations will take place from November 18 to 25, 2017.
YMCA Peace Medal
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 18-25, 2017, local peacemakers will receive special recognition at Peace Medal ceremonies across Canada.
Peacemakers are selected through a nomination process. Know a peacemaker in your community? Take a look at the guidelines below to nominate them:
Peacemaker Selection Criteria
Peace Medal recipients should demonstrate the values of PEACE:
- Participation: highly involved in relevant community building activities and supportive of others' involvement;
- Empathy: promote understanding across different groups, and create a sense of belonging for all;
- Advocacy: make sound, evidence-based arguments for positive change in the community, and build and constituency for peace;
- Community: strengthen community ties; build social capital; respect diversity and promotes social inclusion;
- Empowerment: empower others to pursue acts for peace and address the social determinants of health.
Please note the following:
- A nominee can be an individual or a group
- Nominees must reside within the Greater Toronto area
- YMCA staff members are not eligible for nomination
- Nominees who are paid or receive financial retribution for the peace making work they do are not eligible
- Self-nominations will not be considered
- Preference will be given to nominees who have not been recognized previously by their peace work
- Nominations should focus on activities that have taken place within the last two years
Peace Medal Nomination Form
2016 Peace Medal Recipients
Ron and Melanie Kitchen initially started their work to help Syrian refugees—and in turn, became peacemakers for the residents of Oshawa.
In 2015, the government of Canada announced that 25,000 refugees from Syria would be resettled in Canada. When the Kitchens approached the Islamic Centre of Oshawa to help with sponsoring refugees, it was at a crucial point in time where the Centre and its members were subject to many acts of Islamophobia, bigotry and racism.
Not only did the Kitchens encourage the Centre to take part in the sponsorship initiative, but they did so with an organization that they were not members of, nor with which they shared the same faith.
The Kitchens were instrumental in assisting the sponsorship group by securing and furnishing accommodation for the new families, and even made themselves available to welcome families at the airport. This unique gesture helped to break down many barriers to promote peace—not just within the Centre, but also had a profound effect on the 12 families that have been sponsored as a result.
The Kitchens have reached out to countless Syrian newcomers and have become an integral resource to other sponsorship groups, and have built bridges between the Islamic Centre of Oshawa and other faith-based organizations.
The involvement of Mr. and Mrs. Kitchen with the Islamic Centre through the sponsorship of refugees has helped to build bridges by showing the Centre’s congregation that those who commit acts of hatred do not represent the residents of Oshawa as a whole.
The Kitchens have actively encouraged their family and friends to visit the Centre in hopes of dispelling any misinformation they may have. As a result, the first impression that a (Syrian) newcomer has had upon seeing the Kitchens’ involvement with a mosque is one of peace and acceptance.
The Kitchens not only advocate for peace and harmony within the communities of Oshawa, but also truly believe in equality and empowerment of all human beings, irrespective of religion, race or gender.
Trevor is a second-year student at the University of Western Ontario, pursuing a BA in Globalization Studies and Political Science. Though he’s still on his way to graduating, he is already putting his leadership skills to practice as a community builder with many organizations such as the YMCA of Greater Toronto, the Mississauga Youth Advisory Committee, Ontario Student Trustee Association and the Peel District School Board.
As the founder of the Regional Youth Roundtable (RYR), he has been able to bring youth leaders around Peel and York regions together, influencing them to create change, especially those leading and working with organizations serving LGBTQ2S youth , youth living with disabilities, and newcomer youth.
Youth leaders don’t have a lot of time; between school, maintaining a social life, and running an organization, it can be difficult to invest in their own grown. While leading the Mississauga Youth Advisory Committee, he was able to run various initiatives but never thought to collaborate with other groups and see how other youth leaders could learn from each other. This led to the creation of the RYR, which fosters collaboration between youth-led organizations. What began as a simple idea has expanded into an organization with a membership of 40 youth-led organizations, teaching more than 200 youth leaders various skills such as financial management, operations and marketing to have the tools necessary to lead their organizations to the best of their abilities.
The RYR’s efforts have not gone unnoticed; in (year) they secured $46,000 in funding from the Trillium Foundation and the Laidlaw Foundation to continue their community-building efforts. The RYR has also impacted communities across Canada, with youth-led groups from Vancouver and Ottawa reaching out for advice on how to better collaborate with other organizations.
With his great ideas and willingness to give back to the community, Trevor works hard towards creating a well-connected and engaged society.