Making peace a reality in our society
Together we will work to support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict, and inspire hope where there is despair.
– Nelson Mandela
Montréal, September 21, 2015 – On this International Day of Peace, the YMCAs of Québec have awarded Peace Medals to seven laureates who are making Québec society a place where understanding, respect, and collaboration are more valued and more present in our lives. The 2015 medal recipients work with individuals and communities, developing the knowledge and competencies needed for us to live in harmony, to motivate students, to improve communication, to resolve conflicts peacefully, to promote diversity, and to prevent bullying and discrimination.
“For 160 years, the YMCA has helped build strong and engaged communities. Each day, we see that citizens are taking action and making the world a more peaceful, a happier and a more inclusive place. The Peace Medals celebrate the invaluable contributions of these individuals and organizations that are changing our society by investing in their communities for the long-term,” said Stéphane Vaillancourt, President and CEO of the YMCAs of Québec, during a gala dinner at Marché Bonsecours. Presented by Manulife and hosted by Maxime Charbonneau, the event also featured special performances by France D’Amour, Marc Hervieux, Stéphanie Bédard, as well as a band led by Francis Gaulin.
Honorary laureate: Remembering the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp 70 years ago
Founded in 1976, the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre aims to raise awareness and educate people about the Holocaust and its consequences. The organization’s mission is to remember, but also to engage the public so that these atrocities never happen again. Among the 170 volunteers are numerous survivors, who were specifically honoured by the YMCA. “We feel privileged to be honouring people who not only survived the horrors of the Holocaust, but who then dedicated themselves to preventing the recurrence of such atrocities by spreading a message of kindness, mutual respect, and compassion,” said Brian Bronfman, President of the Peace Grantmakers Network and Chair of the Peace Medals Selection Committee.
Volunteer Peacemaker: Wiping out hatred
Corey Fleischer, owner of a power washing company, has made it his mission to erase hateful messages, symbols and graffiti across the city of Montréal. He wants to show those responsible for these messages that discrimination and intolerance have no place in our society, and that inciting violence and hatred is both serious and unacceptable. Since 2007, Corey has removed more than a hundred hate messages. Hoping to inspire other citizens across the world, he aims to put together teams of volunteers to help him carry out his work in Montréal and beyond.
Youth Peacemakers: Institut Pacifique mediators, aged 6 to 12 years!
Cédric Csukassy, Anne-Audrey Dieudonné, Léane and Yasmine Ducheisne-Grenier, Imen Ghrairi, Iverson and Miranda Medrano, Kenny Salomon and Isaac Varin are nine school-age mediators from Institut Pacifique. Each day, they help other young people in Montréal-Nord to act more peacefully and prevent and resolve conflicts. This year, they took part in a series of videos produced by the Institut Pacifique that will be used by schools to educate their students about basic principles of conflict resolution.
Corporate Peace Initiative (new category!): Mediating between taxpayers and tax authorities
The Tax Mediation Association trains accredited tax mediators to facilitate communication between tax authorities and taxpayers. This alternative method of resolving tax disputes prevents long and costly legal proceedings for both businesses and the government. The association is also helping improve public perception of the tax system and encouraging more cooperative practices in an environment in which ignorance, misunderstanding and miscommunication can have significant financial and emotional consequences for individuals and their families.
Local Peace Initiative: Supporting students in distress
The Family and School Support and Treatment Team helps students from the Lester B. Pearson School Board who are having social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Through inclusive practices, the team creates an enriching and positive learning environment and prevents conflicts and bullying. Since 1995, it has provided more than 700 consultations to help students in distress.
International Peace Initiative: Sorting out conflicts
The Million Peacemakers organization helps families, communities and organizations resolve conflicts. Its workshops have reached almost 100,000 individuals in more than 130 countries. Created by Amir Kfir, the Nonflict Way teaches people how to recognize the beginning of a conflict and turn a potentially destructive interaction into constructive, enriching and respectful dialogue.
Coup de Cœur: A duty to remember Aboriginal children who attended residential schools
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada was established in 2008 by survivors of the Indian Residential School System. Its mandate is to promote awareness and educate Canadians about the history and impact of the residential school system to help with the healing and reconciliation process. By sharing experiences through lectures, conferences and workshops, the TRC fosters dialogue around this issue for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.
The Peace Grantmakers Network has awarded each Medalist $1,000 to donate to the organization of their choice. The evening’s proceeds will go towards YMCA youth development programs that are related to peace, such as YMCA Alternative Suspension and Youth Zones.
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About the YMCAs of Québec
The YMCAs of Québec is a charitable organization that builds stronger communities by providing opportunities for everyone to lead fulfilling, active, healthy and engaged lives. Its 10 YMCA centres, International Language School, Ski School, Residence, Camp YMCA Kanawana and its 43 service sites across the province are visited each year by more than 125,000 people. The first YMCA in North America was founded in Montréal in November 1851. The YMCAs of Québec is part of the Canadian network of 49 YMCA associations. For more information, visit ymcaquebec.org or our Facebook and Twitter pages.
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Nathalie Viora, The YMCAs of Québec
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