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 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.

peace medallion ceremony invitation picture

You’re invited to join us in celebration of our 2016 Peace Medallion recipients!

Date: Tuesday, November 22nd

Time: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Location: Oshawa Mary Street YMCA Centre (99 Mary Street North, Oshawa, ON, L1G 8C1)

Free parking is available in the municipal lot adjacent to the YMCA building. Parking also available after 6 p.m. on city streets.

RSVP by November 17 to Julie Page by email at julie.page@ymcagta.org or by telephone at (905)668-0044 ext 214.

2016 Peace Medallion 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.

    Ron and Melanie Kitchen

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.

Trevor Sookraj

Peace Week Activities

Yoga for Peace

Join us during Peace Week for special Yoga for Peace classes at select health and fitness centres. Sessions are free and open to the community. Non-members can access by obtaining a free week pass at the reception desk at the centre or through our website. For more information, please contact the centre.

    Toronto Cooper Koo Cherry Street Y

  • November 21, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Toronto Sheppard Avenue YMCA

  • November 21, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • November 22, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m.
  • November 23, 8 p.m. – 9 p.m.
  • Toronto Scarborough YMCA Centre

  • November 26, 9 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Peace it Forward Activities: Staff, volunteers and members carry out an act of peace, post the act of peace on Twitter and pass the coin forward to another person.

Peace Tree & Display: To increase awareness about Peace, a decorated Peace Tree will be available for individuals to write a peace message, a favourite quote or something in their language on a leaf; each leaf will be hung on the tree. A display board decorated with peace quotes and pictures will be up at the main entrance for all of Peace Week.

Fountain of Peace: To create more awareness of peace in the centre, a decorated fountain with peace pictures and quotes will be placed in the resource centre. Individuals will be encouraged to write a peace message on a paper coin, and attach it to the fountain.

    The above activities take place at these YMCA centres:

  • Whitby Garden Street
  • Scarborough Milner Business Court
  • Scarborough Finch Avenue
  • North York Dufferin Street
  • Etobicoke Albion Road
  • Peel Brampton
  • Mississauga City Centre Drive
  • Richmond Hill Bayview Avenue

For more information, email us at memberservices@ymcagta.org or call us at 1-800-223-8024.