While turmoil and bloodshed rages in the Middle East and flashes on our TV screens, there are signs everywhere of hope for a more peaceful world. One of these signs is the launching of the third annual Whistler Week of Peace.
Commencing on International Peace Day, Friday (Sept. 21), the theme this year is “to open and pass the peace.”
As event organizer Caterina Alberti explains, the Whistler week of peace is all about overcoming that sense of helplessness in light of the violence apparent in the world.
“When we look at what is going on around the world it seems like such an immense and difficult situation that individually we feel sad, overwhelmed and helpless,” she said. “When we can take small steps in our own lives, families and communities towards peace, we bring more awareness, positive energy and it is amazing how our spirits can create ideas and paths to peace in the most bitter of situations from the most unlikely places.”
Alberti points out it was a combination of things that instigated her to organize the first event in 2010.
“I felt personally that the spirit of our times seemed... at this place where we could really use more inspiration and deeper connections beyond the immediate. And I also recognized that there needed to be better ways for people to manage conflict and come to resolutions and build a peaceful path and to live in a peaceful way.”
So when an opportunity arose to show a film on peace, she undertook the planning for it and brought in guest speakers, including her own grandmother and two First Nations grandmothers.
From those humble beginnings it has grown to a week-long celebration of peace featuring a host of activities and workshops exploring the concepts of peaceful living.
This year’s celebration kicks off at Whistler Olympic Plaza Friday night (Sept. 21) with a candlelight ceremony, music by the Whistler Children’s Chorus and Whistler Singers and a meditation journey led by Beverley Haworth.
It is Haworth’s first time participating in the week of peace and she reveals her feelings on the power of peace.
“I have a strong belief that when people get together and focus on peace, and on meditation, it reflects out into the world as a whole because ultimately we’re one planet and we forget that — we’re one planet, we’re one world, we’re one people.”
Additions to the week of peace this year include the Peace and Drum Walk on Saturday (Sept. 22). Alberti notes the start point for the walk is an apt location — at the peace wall located at Fitzsimmons Creek Bridge, which displays ceramic tiles children have painted in representation of peace.
Another new event is a workshop and film on Tuesday (Sept. 25) hosted by Peace it Together — a Vancouver-based organization that unites youth from opposing sides of a conflict for a program of dialogue and filmmaking. Alberti says she hopes youth and university students from the corridor will participate and emphasized that adults are welcome as well.
“It’s very interactive,” she said, “a combination of film and conversation and exercises and it’s great for peace-building and learning conflict resolution.”
Alberti says that she has observed a transformation in people who take part in the Week of Peace, particularly at the meditation and drumming circle.
“The gentleness that comes from bringing people together and doing something so calming and rejuvenating, it does feel peaceful afterwards.”
She recalls how, at last year’s meditation, children intuitively knew to sit quietly and put their hands in prayer.
“Children are certainly at peace in their hearts and they bring that with them and this joy and playfulness,” she said.
“It is my hope for everyone who attends these peace celebrations that each person feels connected to the spirit within themselves, and to one another,” she said. “Through our spirit within, we find the best of ourselves, our gifts we offer the world, and compassion for those around us, moving us forward with kindness and peace. If we can all take a moment during our celebrations to take to heart the messages in the week of peace, we will be creating a better future for ourselves, each other, and the rest of the planet,” said Alberti.
Visit www.peaceinwhistler.com for more information.