Project Ploughshares is uniquely positioned as the largest peace education organization in Canada. We develop programs that specifically address issues of creating a more peaceful community – both locally and globally. On an on-going basis, we provide the following programming and services to Calgarians:
A secure world without war – a just world at peace.
Founded in 1976, Project Ploughshares is the peace centre of The Canadian Council of Churches, mandated to work with churches, governments, and civil society, in Canada and abroad, to advance policies and actions that prevent war and armed violence and build peace. Project Ploughshares carries out its mandate by undertaking research, policy development, and public engagement to:
A key task of Project Ploughshares is to encourage new ways of thinking about security in which the focus of security is the economic, political, and social welfare of people, rather than the military power of states. The research and analysis of Project Ploughshares is listened to and sought out by NGOs and government. The broad and engaged constituency of thousands of individuals, along with Canadian and international partnerships, contributes to a higher level of public debate and more comprehensive policy analysis.
The most immediate threats to the security of vulnerable people derive from unmet economic and health needs, political exclusion, denied rights, social and political disintegration, and the criminal and political violence that accompany conditions of chronic insecurity. This means that security preparedness involved much more than military strength. A comprehensive approach to security required attention to and funding for the 5D’s of security: development, democracy, disarmament, diplomacy and defence.
As a peace education group Project Ploughshares provides talks, workshops and written material to feed those who need feeding, ‘food’ (information and programming) that comes from very high levels of peacemaking and academia in Canada and the rest of the world.
In the 33 years of its existence, Project Ploughshares Calgary has been sought out by people who wish to actually do something about issues such as the existence of nuclear weapons, the proliferation of arms sales around the world, bullying in schools and particular conflicts happening in the world such as the Iraq invasions, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Syria. PPC has provided an outlet for action to Calgarians who are concerned. PPC also works with emerging as well as ongoing interests that involve peace-building within our community. We brought together 57 community, ethnic, faith and other groups to create the Calgary Community Peace Pole and Plaza. Further opportunities for engagement annually occur at our Peace Fair where some 30 environment, social justice and peace groups gather to sell their goods and at the Peace Remembrance Day service at the Peace Pole.
We have a number of upcoming programs that we expect will make an impact on the community in terms of learning more about peacebuilding.
1. Youth Focus – We currently have a particular focus on youth, for as Gandhi said, “If we are to reach real peace in the world…we shall have to begin with the children.” We take this seriously and as a result have held many programs during the past couple of years that focus exclusively on youth. These have included programs on Peaceful Parenting, Cooperative Games, The Internet and Cyberbullying, and Youth Restorative Justice. We have also presented sessions entitled ‘What IS Peace Education?’ at the Calgary Teachers’ Convention, and at an Interfaith Conference and the Faculty of Social Work – the latter both at the University of Calgary. We have also done sessions on Fair Trade and Stereotyping & Discrimination at the Diversity and Student for Change annual conference at Bob Edward Junior High.
Peacing It Together: Calgary Youth Speak Up
Our annual Spring Workshop, to be held at the end of April 2015, is called Peacing It Together: Calgary Youth Speak Up. The focus will be on engaging youth in developing and initiating peace-related projects in their communities. We hope to have 25 young people come and experience the power of Image Theatre, which will be facilitated by an expert in this field, with the afternoon featuring a youth panel talking about their own views of social justice and peace, what that means to them, and how they feel they can work effectively in their own communities. The last session will be small group sessions, where creativity and imagination will be encouraged in developing plans to work for peace and justice in the Calgary community.
Peace Studies Course
Project Ploughshares, working with the Calgary Board of Education, is working on developing a course in Peace Studies for Grade Eleven Social Studies students. Our initiative fills an important gap within the high school social studies curriculum in the area of peacebuilding, and will incorporate modules dealing with youth in war, radicalization of youth, human security, cultural diversity, and youth restorative justice. These are indicative of current critical issues that have a great deal of relevance for youth today. The goal is that students make a personal connection to what they are learning in the classroom and develop critical and creative thinking skills which enable them to become peacebuilding-oriented when faced with conflict.
As the largest peace education organization in Canada, Project Ploughshares is uniquely placed to create a Locally Developed Course (LDC) for Alberta high schools on competencies in violent conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and the principles of peacebuilding, and awareness of modern-day causes of radicalization and conflict. This course will support students in becoming engaged thinkers and ethical citizens, as outlined by Alberta Education. Additionally, it is directly aligned with Project Ploughshare’s mission and strategic plan in the promotion and development of peace education.
Our LDC will be first introduced as a CBe-Learn online course which is open to all CBE students. This course has the potential to reach thousands of Alberta senior high school students.
2. Floating Lantern Festival: Remembering Hiroshima, Creating Peace
Held annually for the past 3 years at Olympic Plaza, this is a commemorative event, open to the public, in memory of those whose lives were lost or irreparably damaged by the atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima August 6 and Nagasaki August 9 in 1945, and also of all human life lost or destroyed by warfare. 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of these bombings. Oral presentations and music will be followed by audience participation in the placement of floating lanterns on the surface of the water. The event will begin about 5 PM with a mini-festival including food and water but no alcoholic beverages. The festival will include activities for children (including yoga and a storytelling tent), music, drama and speakers. Last year’s event was attended by over 500 people; we would like to make that number even bigger this year in order to raise awareness and educate more people about the dangers of nuclear weapons.
3. Annual Toy Audit
October 2015 will be our third year of doing an audit of Calgary toy stores. Volunteers visited 12 Calgary toy stores, examining the shelves for violent and non-violent toys and games, books and videos. We looked for games and toys that encourage the use of weapons (historical and modern) for solving conflicts; we looked for how the message was communicated on packaging; we checked the location of toys and games on shelves and in displays; and we checked to see if video sections were following the Alberta ranking and age appropriate rules. One of the main outcomes of this project is raising awareness of the prevalence of violent messages and violent solutions that are given to our children, and promoting that there are healthier and more sustainable alternatives.
Results of the audit are sent out to all Calgary media during November.
4. Annual Ploughshares Peace Fair
November 2015 will be the 31st annual fair for Project Ploughshares Calgary. This fair sells goods from some 30 organizations who work in the fields of social justice, fair trade, and the environment. It is always very well attended by Calgarians, and serves to bring awareness of issues of peace and justice to the greater community.
5. Remembrance Day Ceremony
Each year on Remembrance Day, Project Ploughshares holds a small ceremony at the Calgary Community Peace Pole to remember all lives lost in war. This past year’s ceremony was called
Respecting Past Sacrifices, Looking to the Future, and focused on not only remembering the past, but the need to learn from it and create a peaceful world.
The following programs need financial support – for amounts required, see details in our WHAT YOU CAN DO section:
You can volunteer with Project Ploughshares Calgary. Call the office for information at 403-270-7366. Add your voice! Express your concerns to your family, friends and neighbours. Contact us for educational resources on a peace issue of interest to you.
Current Funding Needs:
Spring Workshop – Peacing It Together: Calgary Youth Speak Up – April 25, 2015
Floating Lantern Festival – August 6, 2015
Peace Studies Course – July 2015 – June 2016