Monuments for Peace

by carl on July 6, 2015

After so many new war memorials and monuments announced by the Canadian Government in 2015, I thought it was time to commemorate the monuments for peace. This is Part I – Monuments in Ottawa. Stay tuned for Part II.

Canadian Tribute to Human Rights [AKA: Human Rights Monument] (Ottawa: Melvin Charney, 1989)
Location: NE corner Elgin St. and Lisgar St. DOWNTOWN

Never Again War, Monument to Peace and Remembrance (Gatineau: Denis Massie, 1992)
Location: St-Joseph Blvd. and Alexander-Tache Blvd, Gatineau

Reflection: Monument to Canadian Aid Workers (Ottawa: John Greer, 2001)
Location: Rideau Falls Park (off the northwest side of Sussex Drive in front of the Old City Hall)

Reconciliation: The Peacekeeping Monument (Ottawa: Jack K. Harman, 1992)
Location: SW of Sussex Drive and St. Patrick Street DOWNTOWN

Monument to Fallen Diplomats (Ottawa: A gift from the Republic of Turkey. Azimet Karaman, sculptor; Levent Timurhan, architect; Reha Benderlioğlu, architect-sculptor; and Necmettin Yağcı, sculptor, unidentified year between 1982 and 2014)
Location: Island Park Drive and Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway

Anishnabe Scout (Ottawa: Hamilton, MCarthy, 1918)
Location: Major’s Hill Park, north of the Chateau Laurier, NW of MacKenzie Ave. and Rideau St. DOWNTOWN

Women Are Persons! Famous Five (Ottawa: Barbara Paterson, 2000)
Location: Parliament Hill, betweem the East Block and the Centre Block DOWNTOWN

Oscar Peterson statue (Ottawa: Ruth Abernathy, 2010 – NOTE: You can listen to his “Hymn to Freedom” which plays continuously in front of his statue)
Location: NE corner Elgin and Albert – at the SE corner of the National Arts Centre DOWNTOWN

Women’s Monument Against Violence (Ottawa: C. J. Fleury, 1992)
Location: Minto Park, east of Elgin, south of Gilmour DOWNTOWN

Terry Fox Statue (Ottawa: John Hooper, 1983)
Location: Wellington Street and Metcalfe (Ottawa: John Hooper, 1983) DOWNTOWN

Marion Dewar Plaza (Ottawa)
Location: 110 Laurier Ave, in front of Ottawa City Hall DOWNTOWN


War and Peace

by carl on June 28, 2013

June 28, 2013. Today marks 99 years since a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo named Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. That act, a minor news item in British newspapers whose readers and editors were more worried about their troubles in Ireland, would spark World War I little more than a month later.

By the time that war was over, it killed more than 8.5 million soldiers of all nations, according to the U.S. War Department, a figure that Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918, says is probably too low, “by about a million. ” The author also reports estimates of the civilians killed in that war: 12 to 13 million.

Could that war have been prevented—or even stopped? Hochschild never answers that question outright. He describes in bleak terms the entangling alliances, arms races and land grabs among colonial powers, and the naïve public assumption that such a war was impossible because the big powers’ economies were too dependent on each other. He also details the grim decline of the peace movements in Britain, France and Germany – where workers had once promised not to fight one another – and the rise of jingoism that preceded the outbreak of World War I.

Hochschild gives readers a full account of Aeschylus’ warning that “in war, truth is the first casualty.” Contributors to this first casualty were such British writers as Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, Edward Conan Doyle, John Galsworthy and others who all agreed to write war propaganda for the British government. The editors of major British newspapers suppressed news of the horrendous casualties along the Somme and other battles of the war. An unauthorized letter by a soldier serving on the front to the British government could result in a court martial. Hochschild describes how 17 conscientious objectors to war were shipped to France in the early days of the war, where they could have been shot for refusing to fight. Only when the news of that act was sent to a sympathetic Member of Parliament who raised a question about it in Parliament – followed by a protest by Bertrand Russell to British Prime Minister Asquith – were the lives of the 17 pacifists spared.

So where are we today? The last large international war since World War II that consumed huge armies and subjected soldiers and civilians to intense bombardment was the Vietnam War (1963-1975) – known in Vietnam as the “American War.” At the height of the war there were 549,000 American GIs plus 400,000 South Vietnamese soldiers fighting between 280,000-500,000 NLF or Vietcong troops and between 200,000-690,000 North Vietnamese. More bombs were dropped on Vietnam during this war than were dropped by the U.S. during all of World War II. In Laos alone, the U.S. dropped 260,000 cluster bombs, according to Mike Honda, U.S. Representative in Congress for the 15th district in California.

But since the peaceful revolutions that ended Communist regimes in Eastern Europe, countries at war have not used huge armies and massive bombing campaigns. Today’s battles do not consume huge armies or need large air forces. Today’s international wars are fought with U.S. drones bombing targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen and much smaller Taliban and Al Qaeda forces using rifles, mortars, improvised explosives, suicide bombers – all begun most tragically by Al-Qaeda in two airplanes that destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City in 2011.

What are those in Canada working for peace doing today? Personally, I recently finished my work laying out and writing the introduction to the forthcoming book, Four Elements of Peacebuilding, by Gianne Broughton. It shows the contributions made to the reduction of violence and transformation of violent conflicts — transformations aided by civil society organizations, among them Peace Brigades International and Nonviolent Peaceforce.

After I had finished my work on the book, I attended the reception for exhibit at the Canadian War Museum had mounted an exhibit on the subject of peace. As long-time writer and photographer Koozma Tarasoff pointed out, credit should go to Amber Lloydlangston, assistant historian at the Canadian Peace Museum for making this exhibit a reality in the first place. After saying this, Koozma went on to list 15 things that those concerned with peace would have included in such an exhibit but were missing in this one. On this wish list were the following: a larger space for the role of the United Nations in peacemaking, an examination of the influence of Lev Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King in nonviolent peacemaking, and an extensive display on the history of the peace movement through the centuries.

On June 18, I was invited to a dinner for my former colleague at Canadian Friends Service Committee, Iain Atack, now Assistant Professor in International Peace Studies at the Irish School of Ecumenics of Trinity College Dublin. He gave me a copy of his book, Nonviolence in Political Theory, published by Edinburgh University Press in 2012. Around the table were his brother Peter Atack, now a lecturer in human rights at Carleton University, and other roommates of Iain and Peter’s former flat on Lansdowne Avenue in Toronto in the 1980s, a place we used to call “the centre of the universe.” The discussion was lively that evening. Iain’s book – and our discussion – ranged from Hobbes and Locke to Tolstoy and Gandhi. And of course, we talked about some of the newest contributions to nonviolent peacemaking – Peace Brigades International, for whom Iain had worked in Sri Lanka, and Nonviolent Peaceforce, whose founding convention I helped to run as co-ordinator of the volunteer minute-takers in Surajkund, India, in November 2002.

On June 24, I participated in the second meeting of PeaceQuest Ottawa, a local group inspired by PeaceQuest Kingston, formed to engage Canadians to talk about peace and war in the period up to and through the 100th anniversary of World War I. Gathered at a local church were some of the brightest and most committed representatives of civil society in Ottawa, and two key members of PeaceQuest Kingston: Judi Wyatt and Jamie Swift. The attempt to come to terms with World War I has already generated some heat, as shown by the scathing criticism of Quebec MP Alexander Boulerice by the Sun newspaper chain for Boulerice’s condemnation of the First World War.

Maybe Gandhi will prove right once again: “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”


What to watch: Boston marathon manhunt or peace pact for Kosovo?

April 19, 2013

I usually ignore the net and the news in my home office from 9 to 5. But Friday, April 19, 2013, was different. When I heard the news of the shooting of one of two suspects of the Boston Marathon bombing and the manhunt for the second, I was glued to the live video coverage. […]

Read the full article →

Midnight’s Children

October 25, 2012

On the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, India gained its independence from Britain. It was a time of celebration for most Indians. It was also a time of fear for Indians who were Muslims and either left voluntarily for the newly created Pakistan, were forced out or stayed and suffered the wrath of […]

Read the full article →

My best first day on the job

October 18, 2012

Festival staff always work closely. From right, Sean Wilson, Kira Harris and Leslie Wilson. September 17 was the best first day on the job that I ever had. I was the new communications co-ordinator for this fall’s Ottawa International Writers Festival, and I had two amazing one-on-one meetings: the first with development director Neil Wilson […]

Read the full article →

Use your persona, not PowerPoints

June 3, 2012

When Marie-Lynn-Hammond—singer, songwriter and top-notch editor—took the podium to face a roomful of editors, she had no videos, no props and no PowerPoints. She hardly even used her guitar. What she had was stage presence, an incredible sense of timing and a feeling for her audience. Her subject was “Editing poetry, songs and humour.” Good […]

Read the full article →

Uncle Sam wants part of your bank balances

September 11, 2011

At the end of August, I heard the bad news. All U.S. citizens with foreign bank accounts had to file full reports for the last eight years or face severe fines. As a dual citizen of United States and Canada, that meant me. Earlier this year, I went to a tax seminar held by Democrats […]

Read the full article →

Remembering Jack Layton the problem solver

August 22, 2011

Jack Layton, the leader of the New Democratic Party who died today, was never afraid to speak out on a controversial subject. But he made his position understandable, and often even appealing, to those who were on the other side. I was a journalist working for a Toronto community newspaper in the 1980s. Jack was […]

Read the full article →

Changing a play’s ending in the final rehearsals

August 21, 2011

When Jan de Hartog wrote the first draft of his Tony-award-winning play The Four Poster, he was in hiding from the German occupation in Holland in a room with a four poster bed. The play was written to record his dream of a married life he was sure he would never live to enjoy: the […]

Read the full article →

From song circle to Arcade Fire

August 20, 2011

Last night, 17 voices rang out in our living room, a circle of friends. We sang works all the way from Stephen Foster to “The Elk Herd.” The singing went on until 11 o’clock, when we joined arms and ended with “The Sailor’s Farewell.” It’s a gathering that has happened twice a month since 1991, […]

Read the full article →