Student-Run Peace Festival Sheds Light on Local and Global Peace Concerns; Not Students

Organizers are calling Brantford’s second annual Local/Global Peace Festival a success, while wishing more students attended.

The festival, held in Victoria Park on September 18, brought together a variety of campus, local, global and national organizations to raise awareness of different peace and human rights related causes while celebrating the United Nations International Day of Peace on September 21. Ten Thousand Villages was also present selling fair-trade items. According to festival organizer, Elizabeth Baisley, $2193.67 of product was sold.

While many of the organizations participated last year, this year saw several new groups join. This year also featured speakers Walter Cook who opened the gathering with a traditional First Nations “smudging.” Rob Rainer, Executive Director of Canada Without Poverty, also spoke.
Adam Churchman, Director of Education and Awareness for Brantford-based Canada Fights Human Trafficking, said a peace festival is “incredibly important for communities.”

“Peace is central to everything I believe in,” says Churchman, who has a dove with the words “Blessed are the peacemakers” tattooed on his neck. He later addressed the crowd, asking them to become aware of human trafficking and slavery, in Canada and beyond.

Amy Beecraft, Youth Resource Manager, for Why Not City Missions who also participated for the first time, said it was “awesome” to hear about others’ causes. The youth she works with are often experiencing poverty and human trafficking on a daily basis.

While organizers were pleased by the event and are already planning next year’s festival, they hoped for more student involvement. The World University Service of Canada hosted the festival with the Human Rights Human Diversity Students’ Association and several professors attended. Sharon Patrong, Entertainment Coordinator for the event, said she saw more Brantford residents and high school students than university students in attendance.
“Student integration is key for success,” she says.

Baisley, who was unable to attend last year’s event, said she’s heard less students attended the festival this year than last year. She “thought that with such a link to the University, there would be more students.” She cites the festival happening on a weekend early in the school year when students may be more likely to return home as a possible reason for the low turn-out. Next year, she is considering having the festival run from a Friday to Saturday, unlike in 2009 when it took place over a Saturday and Sunday.

Jacilyn Stettner, a fourth-year student who volunteered at the festival last year and represented Amnesty International this year, also hoped for more student involvement. Stettner, who has been trying to open a Laurier Brantford chapter of Amnesty International since her first year, thinks students need to actively look for ways to become involved.

“Look for it,” she says. “Don’t wait for it to find you.”

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