Flame of peace (1, 2, 3)
Peace Garden, City Hall (100 Queen West) Continually reconsecrated by activists and their rituals of non-violence around its sacred pool and flame, this little oasis was built in Nathan Phillips Square in 1984 for the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. But as the city's anti-war epicentre, it also honours the commitment of Torontonians to the principle of world peace. This month the garden is graced by candles for the return of Christian Peacemaker Jim Loney and three other members of his team kidnapped in Iraq. Its central structure, a simple cube with a pitched roof, symbolizes human shelter. The edges of the structure and roof appear damaged to suggest conflict and to remind us of war's destructiveness. To commemorate the opening of the garden, the eternal flame, representing the hope and regeneration of humankind, was lit by Pope John Paul with an ember from the Memorial for Peace in Hiroshima. And water from the river that flows through the other atomic-bomb-devastated city, Nagasaki, was poured into the reflecting pool. "The most precious treasure that we can give each other, person to person, nation to nation, is the gift of peace," reads the 83 report that inspired city leaders. The words never made it on the garden's walkway.
Avenging peace (4)
Sword Of Sacrifice, St. Pauls Anglican Church (227 Bloor East) It's not an intentional peace shrine, but the Sword Of Sacrifice, a bronze sword set in the middle of a large stone cross outside St. Paul's, has been the locus of its share of anti-war attention. The cenotaph is supposed to symbolize the Christian concept of "just war." However, to Christians who agitated in the late 90s for the monument to be replaced by a ploughshare, in the spirit of pacifism, the spot marks a turning point in local history, one of the few times Christians have questioned church leaders, instead of the military or government, about their commitment to war.
When six months of monthly vigils, culminating on Good Friday 1999, failed to persuade church leaders to replace the monument, a group including Catholic writer Len Desroches and former NDP MP Dan Heap, an Anglican priest, brought tools to do the job themselves. They had just mounted a ladder and cleared a fence protecting the monument when police swooped in. As they were being arrested, a crowd of supporters broke into a rousing rendition of Ain't Gonna Study War No More and We Shall Overcome - the latter, of course, evoking Martin Luther King Jr., who three decades earlier had also challenged the church staus quo. In his Letter From The Birmingham Jail, King noted that "if today's church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th century. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world?"
Faith in peace (5)
Friends Meeting House (60 Lowther) A beacon of peace and social justice since 1931, the majestic Friends Meeting House is the Vatican of Canadian Quakerism. For years, it has provided refuge for hundreds fleeing violence the world over. In the sunlit meeting room of the turn-of-the century manse, where the chairs are unfailingly arranged in a semi-circle overlooking an organic garden, activists inspired by the words of former Quaker and Pennsylvanian governor William Penn ("True godliness does not turn men out of the world, but... excites their endeavours to mend it") have spent decades in pacifist plotting through the Canadian Friends Service Committee. From community centres in war-torn Congo to the meeting rooms of the United Nations, Friends projects are helping peace efforts in the Middle East (the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement) as well as pulling people out of war and poverty with CIDA-funded farm co-op and education programs in Nicaragua and Guatemala. Closer to home, Friends has supported action around reform of the justice system and stood in solidarity with native peoples. It has spoken out loudly against the persecution of minority communities under the Anti-terrorism Act, is currently campaigning with its U.S. counterparts against torture and helping American Iraq war resisters seeking asylum in Canada. In their tradition of standing with marginalized people, Quakers are one of the few faith groups to support the Civil Marriage Act. A shining example of courage and determination.
Uneasy peace (6)
Marie Curtis Park (Etobicoke Creek) A simple stone marker in this park named for a CCF municipal politician commemorates the Toronto Purchase Treaty signed by the Mississauga Nation and the British Crown in 1805. By this agreement, the Brits bought 250,880 acres of land extending roughly from Ashbridges Bay to Etobicoke Creek, and corrected an historical wrong; the treaty replaced a blank deed from 1787 that was passed off as the actual Toronto Purchase Treaty until a surveyor found discrepancies and a decision was made to redo the agreement. The Mississaugas today dispute the treaty, under which they received cash and goods valued at about $200,000 in today's terms. They say the Toronto Islands weren't part of the deal.
Green peace (7)
Bob Hunter Memorial Park (Reesor Road and 14th Avenue, Markham) The Rouge Valley already has a rich history as a haven from violence. Before European settlement, it was neutral territory for various First Nations, including the Huron, Seneca and Mississaugas, who lived, fished and hunted throughout the valley for thousands of years. It's also the area to which pacifist Mennonites fled amid the violence of the American revolution. Fitting, then, that a previously unprotected swath bordered by Highway 407 to the north and the CPR tracks to the west should commemorate another pioneer of non-violent direct action, Greenpeace co-founder Bob Hunter. The area, which Hunter fought to protect from development, was announced by Lieutenant Governor James Bartleman in the Speech From The Throne in October. Hunter, who died earlier this year, believed that nature is our church and that we should all be protectors of its creatures. He would have been happy to know, then, that the park of big oaks to be named in his honour is home to 380 species of plants and 91 of birds.
Green trees (8)
Coronation Park (Lakeshore and Strachan) A reminder that the green peace idea long predated Greenpeace, the planting of royal oaks and silver maples in this lakefront park in 1937 - the largest ceremonial planting in Canada at the time - was inspired by war veterans and conservationists like Richard St. Barbe Baker's Men of the Trees, a UK-based international org known for promoting reforestation as a means of uniting nations. Baker succeeded in curbing warfare and destruction of the scrublands in the northern highlands of Kenya and attempted the same in Palestine in 1929 with mass interfaith plantings. (Unfortunately, when he left the region, tree planting there lost its pacifist focus.) Baker planted his last tree in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
Peace on the pavement (9)
U.S. Consulate (360 University) You can bet the Yanks didn't mean for the sidewalk outside this grey stone building to become a practising ground for anti-war action. But it sure has. From the sit-in at its front doors demanding protection for Martin Luther King's marchers in the 60s, through Vietnam, to the U.S.-backed contra war against the Sandinistas, any number of American-trained death squads in Latin America and the invasion of Iraq, this section of pavement has been a gathering place for those opposed to U.S. policies. Kick-ass activists who didn't buy the State Department party line have turned the space outside the consulate into a place to awaken hope. After September 11, 2001, police established a "no protest" zone on the immediate sidewalk for those with signs or banners, a zone eventually "liberated" by Toronto Action for Social Change.
Peace in exile (10)
Chinese Consulate (240 St. George) This red-brick low-rise in the Annex is where the Canada Tibet Committee's tiny Toronto chapter gathers twice a year to protest on behalf of the people of Tibet and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, a global spokesperson for non-violence and compassion. Established locally in 1987 to promote the peaceful struggle for Tibetan independence and cultural preservation, the group boasts offices across the country. While its presence on St. George may not cut much ice with Chinese powercrats, the committee's peaceful persuasion has deftly pushed the issue of Tibet onto the agenda of every federal government trade mission to China. This year, khatas, white Tibetan scarves of peace and friendship, were handed to MPs to mark the first anniversary of the 2004 Canadian visit of the Dalai Lama, who is currently living in exile in India. More recently, the group's efforts have brought Nortel and Bombardier under public scrutiny for their involvement in the controversial Gormo-Lhasa railway, a project the committe says will increase environmental pressure on Tibet's high-altitude ecosystem, bolster China's military strength in the region and facilitate the entry of large numbers of Chinese settlers.
God's peace (11)
Christian Peacemaker Teams (25 Cecil) The mood in this office is understandably somber. On the wall is a sign with the time-zone conversion for Baghdad, where Toronto member Jim Loney and three others are being held captive. The CPT, founded in 1984 by a coalition of Mennonites, Church of the Brethren and Quakers, aims to devote the same discipline and self-sacrifice to non-violent peacemaking that armies devote to making war. Members go to violent zones at the invitation of locals and "get in the way," by serving as human shields, documenting abuses or simply bearing witness. This they have done in places like Haiti, Colombia, Palestine, Iraq, the Mexico-Arizona border, Grassy Narrows, Ontario, and Burnt Church, New Brunswick. As the founding director of CPT, Gene Stoltzfus, put it, "Unless we are ready to die by the thousands in vigorous new exploits for peace and justice, we should sadly confess that we never really meant what we said and dare never whisper another word about pacifism to our sisters and brothers in desperate lands filled with injustice."
Soldiers' peace (12)
War Resisters Support Campaign (25 Cecil) For the lonely American GIs who make their way across the border, refusing service in Iraq, this is the door to knock on. Nine have publicly sought sanctuary here, and 75 more have contacted the office of campaign lawyer Jeffry House. But there are untold numbers fearfully hiding in our cities. Resister Jeremy Hinzman is the furthest along in his refugee bid; he has been refused, and his appeal will be heard February 7. The group is calling on the feds to demonstrate their commitment to international law by making a special provision for U.S. war objectors who want to stay. Some members of this org are former Vietnam war resisters, a few of the more then 50,000 Americans who fled an unjust war and were allowed to remain. Back then, PM Pierre Trudeau took the pulse of the nation and proclaimed, "Those who make a conscientious judgment that they must not participate in this war have my complete sympathy. Canada should be a refuge from militarism." Would that power pols today were as sensitive to Canadians' pacifist bent. Campaigners are dogging candidates during this election, pushing the sanctuary button. email@example.com