By Linda Chan

Every day in the news we’re hearing how rampant violence is in our communities. It’s up to us to be the change that we wish for and the time is now to co-create it. — Paula Abdul

On the evening of November 11 Remembrance Day, Saul Arbess and Penny Joy of the Canadian Peace Initiative facilitated "What does peace mean to you?" at the Church of Truth as part of our Oneness Wednesday program. It was very beautiful, with a circle sharing with all 22 people listening and sharing deeply and respectfully about peace around an altar with tea light candles and other items representing peace. We sang songs of peace, a reflective poem was shared, Will Allister's painting was admired.

Saul Arbess and Penny Joy dedicated this evening to the memory of the renowned artist and writer William Allister, a Japanese prisoner of war during World War II who affirms the remarkable resilience of the human spirit. Penny shared with us a story about when she attended William Allister's  magnificent series of painting entitled "East Weds West," She was so moved by one of his paintings that she ended up weeping and not knowing why; Subsequently, she discovered that these paintings came out of William Allister's  journey back to Japan after the war and the reconciliation of simmering hostility (the result of 44 months of wartime mistreatment by Japanese captors) with a deep appreciation of Japanese culture.

Saul Arbess spoke to us about the Canadian Peace Initiative (CPI) and their new hope that with the government now under Justin Trudeau that Canada will be the next country to have a Cabinet-level Minister of Peace and Department of Peace. The CPI is part of a growing international movement for departments of peace, the Global Alliance for Ministries and Departments of Peace, numbering more than 35 countries. Nepal declared a Minister of Peace and Reconstruction in 2007 and Costa Rica declared a Minister of Justice and Peace in Sept 2009.

According to the website - in Canada, the CPI is dedicated to generating the political will for this initiative by reaching out, not only to politicians, but to the broad spectrum of our citizens including peace and justice organizations, faith communities, artists, choirs, healthcare professionals, teachers, service clubs, cultural communities and business. In pursuing this initiative, it is recognized that the crisis facing humanity is not only social, political, economic and environmental, but also spiritual in nature. Creating a culture of peace consists of community-based active engagement in spiritually-grounded active nonviolence where people come to recognize their own power for making personal and social changes without violence and improve their skills for respectful engagement with opponents, instead of confrontation that polarizes and demonizes. In this category would be things like restorative justice, non-violent communication and alternative projects. Creating a culture of peace is on-going and a long term process with efforts made to work closely with Canadian youth to turn the tide in our generation.

When we dedicate our lives to cultivating peace, we learn to experience power with instead of power over - James O'Dea in Cultivating Peace