"Making peace in the world we're living in is like dealing with fire - there are risks," says Lyn Adamson who chairs the peace and social action committee for Toronto Quakers, as she starts lighting candles.
It's Let Them Stay Week and I'm at the Quaker Friends House in the Annex, where the Peace and Social Action Committee of Toronto Friends Meeting (Quakers) and the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW) have organized a fundraising dinner in support of war resisters Kim Rivera and Jeremy Hinzman.
Looking around the room people seem to be in good spirits, but it's a downright somber contrast to the carousing around Obama this week. Rivera, who served in Iraq in 2006 as a gate guard searching suspicious cars at checkpoints, can count the days to her scheduled deportation on one hand.
Her forced departure is penciled in for January 27. If that date sounds familiar, it's the first day back for Harper's prorogued Parliament.
"She's in at 9am," explains Helen Chilas, National Coordinator for VOW. She adds it's like the Conservatives want to make sure she gets deported before budget chaos potentially brings down the House.
As for Hinzman, he awaits a review by Citizenship and Immigration officials following a last-minute stay of his deportation in September.
Looking around the room last night I got the feeling that this was just a family getting together - like for a birthday or anniversary. It's real. People face serious turmoil. But with the kind of cheer attainable only by children, two of Kim Rivera's kids, 6-year-old Christian and 4-year-old Rebecca, walk around smiling, joking and helping light candles in the shape of a peace sign.
The thought that their mom, sitting with 2 month old Katie, born here, could face jail time south of the border is lingering in the back of my head as the candle light vigil ends and the kids began blowing out the candles.
Christian stops after a few gusts. Asked why he explains that he simply had no more wishes. But while his wish list may be exhausted, the support campaign isn't anywhere close to giving up on extinguishing our Conservative government's attempts to boot U.S. war resisters.
Needless to say, two more resisters (Patrick Hart on Jan 29, Dean Walcott on Jan 30) also face deportations this month.