Pemberton Declares Itself for Peace

Local municipalities are asked all the time to sign petitions, endorse projects or declare their support for various initiatives. Often, these seem mostly symbolic and about as meaningful as a facebook “like”, especially if there’s no further action required. That’s why the Village of Pemberton’s commitment this Saturday to declare itself a Peace Community is different.
If peace does start at home, it’s quite a statement for a local community to say: this is an important value for us and to back it up, we’re going to lend our support to these grassroots movers and shakers who are dedicating this year to raising awareness locally about Peace.
The Declaration that is being signed on Saturday states that the Village of Pemberton believes in:

respect for the life and dignity of every person, without discrimination or prejudice

rejection of violence in all of its forms and towards all people

resolution of conflict among people within local and global communities

reconciliation of differences and the pursuit of harmony

freedom of expression and cultural diversity

It shouldn’t be, but that is a pretty radical thing to declare yourself for when there’s no real urgency, when it’s just as easy to do nothing.

We wondered what it really means and how it will manifest, so we grabbed hold of long-time local events organiser and this year’s Pemberton Rotary Club President, Lizz Kelly, the spearshaker behind this initiative, to find out more.
Is this really a chance to groove around town for a year, flashing your peace fingers, and saying, Peace out, sister?

No, I was never that groovy!

It all kicks off at the Sept 22 Celebration. What’s going to happen there?

The Community Peace Celebration is a fun family oriented event with crafts, face painting, live entertainment, free bbq & refreshments & cake. There will be an official signing of the Rotary Peace Community Declaration by the Mayor and myself at 11:30am. We will have information on our Peace activities planned for the year.

By calling out “Peace” for an entire year, through various activities – street banners, school projects, a Peace Forum – what do you hope to accomplish?

The goal of this project is to raise awareness of peace in our communities. Through awareness, goodwill and rejection of discord, we hope to stimulate a shift in attitudes within both our local and global communities.

Isn’t peace a bit abstract, as a goal? Wouldn’t it be easier for people to sign on to something more concrete like Mo Douglas’ Hello Pledge, or a 12 step program, or commit to a weekly yoga class, in order to accomplish that same thing?

Mo will be at the Community Peace Celebration with her Hello Pledge forms because we think that people reaching out to one another by saying hi is an excellent peace building activity! The mindfulness of yoga can bring peace, but it’s not for everyone.

What does this designation mean for Pemberton? 

The First Rotary Peace Community was established by the Rotary Club in Wagga Wagga Australia in 1992. There are now about 60 world wide. The concept of a Peace Community is very much a partnership between Rotary and the local government as well as community members and organizations.

Each year Rotary International sets a theme for the year and this year’s theme is Peace Though Service.
I was inspired to raise awareness of peace in our communities by the Rotary Peace Community Declaration Agreement :
Peace begins at home and in each community.  It transcends the simplistic view of an absence of war and encompasses all those measures that improve human relations with positive and harmonious outcomes.  The rejection of violence, the respect for life and human dignity, the resolution of personal and urban violence and the reconciliation of differences can realize those freedoms under which peace and harmony can flourish.
How long have you been involved with the Pemberton Centennial Rotary Group

Since its charter in 2005. I really liked the idea of getting more involved in my community.

It’s a pretty dynamic group of people. What is the common thread that links the members together?

Our club meets each Wednesday at 7:15am at the Community Centre in Pemberton. We have 18 members that I think all share the same feeling about being an active part of their community. We are always welcoming new members so drop into a meeting to check us out.

What projects have you lead over the past few years?  

We do work locally and internationally, and we raise money for these projects via our fundraisers: the Annual Rotary/Chamber Golf Tournament, Augustfest Beer Gardens on Slowfood Cycle Sunday, Spring Flower-Basket Sale, and new this year is our Golf-Ball Drop Raffle

Locally this year we are working with the Signal Hill PAC to provide funding and manpower to the first phase of the intermediate playground, we facilitated the donation of school supplies to the Head of the Lake School in Skatin, we are providing a fitness circuit at One Mile Lake, we are providing an Ethics course to the grade ten students at PSS and Xit’olacw school, We are providing funding to the Winds of Change Wellness Gathering, in partnership with the Friends of the Library we helped to install the Community Kitchen at the Cottonwood Community Centre, we are assisting Stewardship Pemberton in the planting of bulbs and plants around their Nature Centre, laid sod at the Skateboard Park and Lions Seniors Housing,we do a community clean up on Earth day, provide funding to the Whistler Adaptive Sports Program for their annual ski race/camp and provide bursaries to the PSS graduates.
In the last few years we have also built the accessible trail and bridge connecting One Mile Lake , installed an accessible picnic table on the trail, donated funds to the Skatin Literacy Project, and sent a Shelterbox to Haiti.
Internationally this year, in partnership with the Rotherham Rotary Club in the UK we will be returning to Lesotho, Africa to assist with the implementation of a teaching farm to provide life & job skills to HIV positive orphan youth.
Last year we  sent a container of used medical supplies, school supplies, soccer equipment and quilts to Lesotho where 2 of our members met the container and distributed the goods to those in need and the year before we implemented an African Library Project at the SOS Children’s Village Orphanage in Lithabeneng. We have also provided funding to a forestry project in Uganda, supported the Emmanuel Boys Rescue School in Kenya and donated to a Neurosurgical table in Ghana, donated bicycles to Kenya. Quilts for Africa is now in its 4th year and we have quilts donated from Pemberton, Squamish,Vancouver, Sunshine Coast , Toronto, Florida,and the Whistler Valley Quilt Guild. These quilts are hand delivered to those families in need in Lesotho.
Rotary is at its core a service club. What’s the connection with peace?

The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace is one of the cornerstones of the Rotary movement. With Rotary’s active presence in more than 200 countries and geographical areas, our organization has established itself as a world leader in fostering world understanding and peace. In Rotary, we believe that peace belongs in the hearts and minds of each individual. Through awareness, goodwill and rejection of discord, we can stimulate a shift in attitudes within both our local and global communities.

 Who else is a critical player, supporter or a partner to the Pemberton Rotary Peace Project?

There are so many amazing members in our club that help in so many ways. The Peace Sub-Committee is made up of Past-President Liz Scroggins, the energizer bunny Marnie Simon and one of our newest members Dr Ann Crowley who all having been working so very hard of this project.

What is peace, anyway? 
I personally define peace as a positive and respectful state of mutual harmony between people or groups, especially in personal relations.
 Do people in Pemberton really need to worry about Peace? Can the 4000 folk living in this little corner of the world really have much of an impact in the global mojo?

Oh, its amazing what you can do! The smallest shift can have a huge impact, and it doesn’t have to be  global!

Who is your “peace guru?”  
As a yoga-practicint vegetarian, I believe in ahisma, which means kindness and non-violence towards all living things, including animals. It respects living beings as a unity – and comes from the belief that all living things are connected.
My gurus are the Dalai Lama, Buddha, Ghandi, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela as they all exemplify compassion and empathy. I also believe in the United Nations – the idea of all nations working together for the betterment of humanity inspires me everyday.

What one small action would you like to inspire in people, through this initiative?

For people to look at our world with compassion and empathy.

Who do you think are Pemberton’s most “peaceful” people?

Our town is filled with so many amazing people and volunteers that go out of their way to help others – they are my role models and constantly inspire me.

How does a person with teenage kids have any kind of domestic peace?

Well, for my crazy family it means when we have the time, just having a family meal together and talking about our day. Connecting and communicating when possible helps us to understand each other better.

2 Responses to “Pemberton Declares Itself for Peace”
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  1. […] first caught wind that Pemberton had a Multicultural Network when the Rotary Peace Event incorporated peace-crane making into its celebration. (And here I was thinking I was the most […]

  2. […] the “Community of Peace” designation with all the inspiring banners drawn by adults and kids hanging in the library. The interact club […]

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