Peace and Disarmament

Back to listSep 25, 2008

SGI-Canada Participates in Ottawa Peace Festival

080925x_ottawa_fest.jpg Ms. Olexiuk (standing) and other panelists at the presentation on the current state of Afghanistan

For the second consecutive year, SGI-Canada (SGIC) participated in the Ottawa Peace Festival, a two-week event promoting peaceful coexistence, featuring talks, films, art, music and prayer involving many community groups and government agencies. On September 25, 2008, at its Ottawa community center, SGIC hosted an event titled, "Afghanistan: A People-centered Approach to Peace, Experiences from the Field."

Some 80 people attended the presentation that included keynote speaker Eileen Olexiuk, former deputy head of mission in Afghanistan of the Canadian Embassy, together with a panel of specialists who have had direct involvement in peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan: Dr. Hussain Ramos, executive director of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission; Grant Kippen, international chairperson of the Electoral Complaints Commission; Janan Mosazai, journalist and former Advisor and Interpreter for the UN mission in Afghanistan; and Wendy Gilmour, director of the Peacekeeping and Peace Operations Group, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, (DFAIT) Canada.

In her address, Ms. Olexiuk spoke about the efforts of the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan to assist the Afghan people who are fighting a tremendous battle to establish peace and eradicate poverty. She detailed the plight of the Afghan situation and explained her activities there along with those of the panel, all of whom assisted her during the three years she spent in the country. She also proposed how eventual peace could be achieved, such as steps needed to establish the rule of law and stable governance. In her remarks Ms. Olexiuk shared a quote from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's 2008 Peace Proposal:

The unhinged march of finance-centered globalization has produced a world riven by disparities of an unprecedented scale.... [The] slide towards not limited to religious fundamentalism that has been the subject of so much debate, but includes a dogmatic adherence to various ideologies including those of the market. Such fundamentalisms flourish in conditions of chaos and disorder. What is common to all of them is that abstract principles and ideas take precedence over living human beings who in turn are forced into a subservient role.

Following the talk, panel members took turns answering questions from the audience. The presentation concluded with a recent video of boys and girls expressing their views of peace. Bill Bhaneja, coordinator of the Ottawa Peace Festival congratulated and thanked SGIC for its participation. Dwight Rudisela, on behalf of SGIC, presented gifts to the keynote speaker and panel members.

[Adapted from an article in the October 2008, Issue 037 of the SGI Canada News, SGI-Canada]