Notes

By Holly Head; Deborah Ferens; Donald Craid

B.C.

Headlines Theatre presented their latest play, Sanctuary?, in the latter part of October through Vancouver Island and other B.C. locations. Sanctuary? was created at the request of Amnesty International and, like all Headlines productions, has a non-professional cast, each one a refugee from a different country. Sanctuary? is the story of a Guatemalan couple who are forced to leave their country after a death squad drags a student activist friend from their home. The secret police interrogation sounds remarkably similar to the immigration inquiry the couple must endure in their bid to find refuge in Canada.

A State of the Islands Conference examined the relative "state" or condition of Vancouver and its adjoining islands, its forests, its creatures and presented sustainable resource management concepts. It was held in Nanaimo at the end of October.

On October 28, Vancouver Islanders held a boat rally and demonstration in Esquimalt Harbour to protest the presence of warships in B.C. harbors and also to protest Canada's involvement in the PACEX '89 exercises in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Nanoose Conversion Campaign held its 6th Annual November 11 Day Peace Walk, which rallies outside the gates of the Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental Test Range at Nanoose Bay.

Recently the University of Victoria Environmental Studies program received funding to proceed in developing a "Center for Regional Sustainable Development."

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled against Dr. Jerrilyn Prior of Vancouver, stating that she does not have the right to take her belief to trial. She has diverted the military portion of her taxes to the Peace Tax Trust Fund.

In October a demonstration was held against the Aircraft carrier USS Constellation which was in Vancouver Harbor. It carries 100 nuclear weapons. The Constellation had a serious fire in August, 1988 which injured 20 sailors.

The Raging Grannies have published a Songbook/Cookbook -available for $7.50 at 604/ 247-8368.

A Peace Studies course has been initiated at the Langara Campus of Vancouver Community College, "Peace and Conflict Studies 201."

The low-level flights scheduled for September 1989 over B.C. were cancelled due to "logistical problems."

Deborah Ferens 604/ 247-8335

Atlantic

The Coral Sea, an aged U.S. aircraft carrier (built 1953-4) steamed intoHalifax Harbour on September 21 for a public relations visit, one of four she was making to different ports before being scrapped in April. The Americans got more publicity than they had bargained for. When the gangplank was put down for visitors, members of the Halifax Coalition for a Nuclear Free Harbour were close by, with signs and handouts. According to Peter Davison, "Everybody who went on board was informed that the ship had nuclear weapons on it - about 100 - information not given them by the ship's tour masters. Also, people on the nearby MacDonald Bridge held signs giving the message to commuters. We must have reached 20-25,000 people altogether." (For information about future Coalition activities, phone 435-6165.)

How Peace Brigades International volunteers stand up to terrorists in El Salvador and Guatemala was told to gatherings in October by Barbara MacQuarrie, one of the first-line volunteers. Fresh from a tour in Ontario, Barbara continued through Halifax, Sydney, Mahone Bay, Yarmouth, Wolfville, Antigonish, Tatamagouche, New Glasgow, and Brule in Nova Scotia, Saint John, Fredericton, and Sackville in New Brunswick, and Charlottetown in P.E.I.

Unarmed but equipped with cameras (which can be potent publicity weapons), PBI volunteers accompany nonviolent native civilians at risk from the military and death squads, on the street, in their homes, offices, and meeting places. They are ready at all times to broadcast violent incidents or unwarranted detentions to the outside world. In their presence, government goons back off from the kind of violence which since 1983 led to the death of 100,000, the disappearance of 40,000, and the destruction of 400 villages in Guatemala.

A veteran Peace Brigader, Barbara (a Montréaler) experienced arrest and three days of incommunicado imprisonment in Guatemala in 1987, and a severe bombing in El Salvador last February. Peace Brigades was established in 1981 by veterans of social movements from 13 countries, as an international network supporting local nonviolent action in the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi. Its Canadian headquarters is at 345 Adelaide St. West, Suite 606, Toronto M5V 1R5 (416/ 595-9484).

October 24 was Solidarity Day in Halifax, as a coalition of 11 different activist groups joined in a dramatic protest against the proposed NATO air training base in Labrador. Choice of the date was for two reasons: It was the trial day in Newfoundland for five Innu protesters arrested September 19 after getting on a runway of the Goose Bay air base and blocking planes from taking off; and it was also United Nations Day around the world.

In Halifax on the 24th Solidarity groups erected a mock jail in front of the City Library, manned it with volunteers in "solidarity" with the imprisoned Innu, and handed out leaflets and gave information to more than 1,000 passersby. A mass meeting was scheduled for that evening at St. Mary's University, with Bill Robinson from Project Ploughshares headquarters speaking, questioning the justification for strategic arms testing and practice at the proposed NATO base.

Winding up a cross-Canada trip, West German pediatrician Ernst-Ludwig Iskenius spoke to Maritimes groups in half a dozen communities in October, reporting that large chunks of his country are as bedeviled by low-level military training flights and exercises as the Innu in Labrador. Sixty percent of them are by Americans, over whom the German government has little control. (Two German defence ministers have quit or been fired because of their opposition to the flights.) German medical research, he said, fully bears out Innu claims of harm to humans, especially children, and to animals from sudden, literally deafening blasts from planes roaring past 75 to 150 meters above ground.

Such low-level military training flights afflict six areas in Canada besides Nitassinan, reported Dr. Iskenius. In the Tracadie area of New Brunswick, the Department of National Defence proposes to expand its present Air Weapons Range from 190 to 627 square kilometres. An Environmental Impact Study was scheduled for release in late November, with public hearings to be held in February. More information from Gerard Dorion, C.P. 6, Site 10, Riviere de Portage, N.B. E0C 1G0. (Thanks for this report and other data to Tony Law of Pictou Ploughshares, whose newsletter, "Peacemeal" is an invaluable source on such matters.)

Donald Craig 902/ 634-8619

Ontario

In September, a "Week for Peace and Justice" took place in the Muskoka Lakes area. It was built around the third Tuesday in September, which the United Nations has proclaimed as the annual day for a Peal for Peace, a worldwide minute of recognition, at noon, of the oneness of humanity and the need for peace.

"A Week for Peace and Justice" began on Sunday evening with a talk by Barbara MacQuarrie of Peace Brigades International. On Monday, a physician who had worked in Sierra Leone for CUSO, presented a well-researched talk on the economic and trade conditions promoted by industrial nations that create hunger, disease, and poverty worldwide in Third World countries.

Tuesday, at noon, a Peal for Peace celebration took place in front of the town hall and included live music, fire engine sirens, and church bells to break the minute of contemplative silence. In the evening, a panel of local professionals discussed "How to Raise Children to be World Citizens."

On Wednesday, the speaker was Meyer Brownstone, who works with OXFAM. A Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, he spoke about the evolving independence process in Namibia. Thursday evening's program was a discussion by local educators on global ecology issues. Friday evening rounded out the week with a talk by Diane Saibil of Inter Pares.

Huntsville's Week for Peace and Justice has set a precedent for an annual series of events. Holly Head, Muskoka Peace Week Committee, P.O. Box 2251, Huntsville, Ont. P0A 1K0.

Peace Magazine Dec 1989-Jan 1990

Peace Magazine Dec 1989-Jan 1990, page 28. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by Holly Head here
Search for other articles by Deborah Ferens here
Search for other articles by Donald Craid here

Peace Magazine homepage