Profiles of people nominated
Adelle Yvette Potgieter
During tenure in the South African Police Service between 1994 & 2005 she researched the causes of and mediated peace in violent community conflicts ranging from urban gang war to rural/tribal faction fights. Miss Potgieter developed the model SAPS now used to manage large scale community conflicts.
After leaving SAPS in 2005 she has devoted her time to teaching conflict resolution skills to high risk groups and communities through HOPE Foundation’s Purple Ribbon for Peace campaign. She has begun training/assisting/mentoring groups internationally like Carina Carinosa in Panama and a ministry on Pakistan. She has developed a critical emotional skill known as Emotional Action Planning that promotes self-understanding, self-control and cooperation, which she teaches to children & parents from vulnerable (impoverished, high violence & crime rate) communities & youth offenders & community leaders. The work is also published on Amazon to make it available to an international audience.
Miss Potgieter was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize (2005 and 2006) as part of the Peacewomen Across the Globe initiative.
Raoni the Amazonian
Great Chief Raoni holds a key position amongst all those fighting for the preservation of the Amazon rainforest, home to the age-old nations who struggle to preserve their simple way of life in an environment so rich that, when discovered, it soon became a target for commercial promoters.
Born in the Brazilian village of Krajmopyjakare (today called Kapôt) in the state of Mato Grosso around year 1930, Raoni belongs to the Metuktire family of the Kayapo people. In 1954, following a nomadic childhood exposed to tribal wars, he met the Villa-Boas brothers, famous indigenous anthropologist in Brazil, who taught him Portuguese and provided him with the required knowledge to make him become one of the great chiefs of the Kapayos. The documentary titled Raoni, directed by Jean-Pierre Dutilleux in 1978, greatly contributed to propel the Chief onto the world scene.
Raoni is now the international spokesperson to all world citizens who are in total solidarity with the people of the Amazon, deeply concerned by the massacre of their land through rapid deforestation brought about by soya production as well as the building of hydroelectric dams for the benefit of foreign industries without local consent.
Chief Robert Joseph (2)
Chief Robert Joseph worked tirelessly for reconciliation between aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people. Hereditary Chief of the Gwawaenuk First Nation, he dedicated his life to bridging the differences brought about by lack of understanding, intolerance and racism at home and abroad. He believes that peace begins with a respectful co-existence with the earth which we must treat with compassion.
He was born in an isolated village in British Columbia. Despite the eleven years he spent away from his people in boarding schools for children created under the Indian Act in Canada, he was able to preserve the language and culture of the Kwakwaka’wakw People. He taught this language at the University of British Columbia where he was also art curator of the First Nations and is the co-author of Down from the Shimmering Sky: Masks of the Northwest Coast.
Among other responsibilities he assumed, Chief Robert Joseph is Special Advisor to Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation with the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IFWP).
To learn more, go to http://www.sfu.ca/dialogue/programs/blaney-award/joseph-biography.html
Following the outbreak of armed conflicts in the South-Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Doctor Denis Mukwege helped thousands of Congolese women who fell victim to sexual aggressions. Today, he performs nearly a dozen surgeries daily to treat wounded women who were gang-raped by rebel forces. These forces have but one objective: conquer villages and territories bursting with resources. Children and husbands are often witnesses to the rapes, helpless in preventing this calamity striking at the heart of families, destroying communities.
Since 1998, Dr. Mukwege has devoted his life to restore women’s health and dignity while condemning the impunity of mass rapists. He went as far as carrying his message to the United Nations during a conference in 2012. Retaliation for this address made him the target of a murder attempt while his two daughters were held hostage.
It will take time and moral support to help these women regain their dignity and finally speak out. Dr. Mukwege helps them take a first step towards a new life by restoring healthy bodies. To work for peace is often to fight inhumanity; this is Dr. Mukwege’s crusade.
Frederic Back (Posthumous)
Through his art and talent, Frederic Back displayed his profound cultural and social beliefs. By doing so, he deeply touched numbers of people to whom he left art of exceptional beauty.
Born in 1924, from Alsatian parents, Frederic Back grew-up in Strasburg, a city of multiple and diverse cultures. In France, where his family moved on the eve of WWII, Frederic Back studied art, first at the École Estienne and then at the École régionale des beaux-arts de Rennes, under the guidance of Mathurin Méheut, painter and illustrator. In 1948, he moved to Montréal and started teaching at the École du Meuble, where he met Paul-Émile Borduas, and at the École des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, where he met Alfred Pellan. Stimulated by these talents, he followed his own path and built a reputation not only as a great artist and illustrator but also as a tireless worker for Radio-Canada where he worked from 1952 almost until his death, on December 3rd, 2013.
Frederic Back humbly welcomed international recognition through two Academy Awarded animated short films: Crac! (1982) and L’homme qui plantait des arbres (1988). The latter gives hope to people in despair by telling the story of one man’s long yet successful effort to re-forest a desolate valley. With his wisdom and his vision of the world, Frederic Back promoted peace and harmony with nature.
Brother Roger of Taizé (posthumous)
The Taizé Community has become a leading venue for young people in search of spirituality, openness, ecumenism and peace. Roger Schutz, its founder, was born in Switzerland. His father was a pastor and his mother, a musician. He went to France in 1941 to assist refugees fleeing war and the German occupation. Later, he founded an ecumenical community of men dedicated to reconciliation, where everyone feels welcome and is invited to dialogue and reconciliation prayer.
Towards the mid-1970s, the Youth Council was created; it was followed by the Pilgrimage of Trust on Earth which takes place every year in a large city, and is attended by tens of thousands of pilgrims in search of friendship and brotherhood.
“Struggle and Contemplation are essential to become persons of communion” was Brother Roger’s peace message. Yet, his life ended abruptly when he was strangled in a church in the presence of 2,500 youth in prayer, on August 16, 2005. Brother Roger is an icon of a life given so that peace of heart and brotherly love might one day fashion a more hospitable world.
Brother Roger was awarded the 1988 UNESCO Peace Education Prize.
See also : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brother_Roger
Because of his thoughts and actions in the fields of energy and social economy, I strongly believe Jeremy Rifkin should be added to the Peace Prize nominee lists. Active in the fields of social and economic sciences as a writer, a lecturer and a theorist, he is above all a most wanted political advisor and as such, is consultant to Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, currently considering a harmonious and responsible transition from nuclear to renewable energy.
Rethinking economy and initiating the inevitable third industrial revolution is the prime directive of the bulk of his published work. It is also the philosophical base of his involvement with policy makers, city administrators, international industry and all others seeking this switch towards a renewable economy. Since 1994, Jeremy Rifkin has been a senior lecturer at the Wharton School’s Executive Education Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Popular collaborator to world newspapers, he promotes the idea that chances for world peace will only grow if we accept to stop linking the mining industry to the military in terms of using resources to solve resurging conflicts.
The action and work of Karen Armstrong constitute a genuine journey to unite humanity beyond cultural, racial, religious and gender differences. A historian of religions, she recalls the commonalities of the major religions: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” or “Do not do unto others what you would not want done to yourself”. Is this not a credible path to achieving peace?
This British author born in 1944 surprised the world by publishing Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. This work invites us to abandon our spirit of competition and hate in order to decentre ourselves, open up to others and form warm humane communities. In 2008, winner of the TED Prize, Karen Armstrong prepared and facilitated consultations that led her to launch in 2009 the Charter for Compassion. Approximately sixty cities have already adopted it to improve the coexistence of citizens.
To learn more, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Armstrong
The Benedictine monk Laurence Freeman is associated with the diffusion of Christian meditation, a practice which dates back to the Desert Fathers. He proposes this practice at dialogue meetings between Christians and Muslims.
A British citizen born in 1951, Freeman established the Christian Meditation Centre in London in 1975 and then in Montreal in 1977 where he joined John Main to teach meditation at universities and facilitate retreats until Main’s death in 1982. Freeman returned to England to establish the World Community for Christian Meditation, published many books and was a regular contributor to The Tablet.
Laurence Freeman is a peacemaker when he promotes ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue but also when he spreads the idea that contemplation is a source of knowledge and encourages the teaching of meditation to children and students called to live in an increasingly complex and pluralist world.
To learn more, go to http://www.wccm.org/content/laurence-freeman-osb
Malala Yousafzai is an advocate for the right to education for girls. She was born in 1997 in Mingora, the main town in the Swat District, a region in northwestern Pakistan where armed conflicts are taking place between the Taliban and the army. In 2009, when she was only eleven years old, she became known to the general public when she began writing a blog for the BBC site. In it she denounced the violence in the Swat Valley brought about by the Taliban regime and advocated the right to education for girls. She rose in prominence and was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. On October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Yousafzai as she rode home on a bus. She was seriously injured with one bullet, which went through her head, neck, and ended in her shoulder. As her condition improved, she was transferred to a hospital in Birmingham, England for intensive rehabilitation. Her determination and courage are recognized internationally.
She was selected as one of Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people of 2013. That same year she was awarded the Sakharov Prize and was the youngest person to ever be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, which ultimately was awarded to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
Mother Agnès Mariam of the Cross
Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross is a Lebanese nun of Melkite Christian rite, living and working in Syria. She is one of the main spokespersons for the MUSSALAHA reconciliation movement. She works unceasingly to bring together, through dialogue, people of the different factions in Syria, attempting to negotiate cease-fires. She often risks her own life to achieve these goals. Recently, she undertook a world tour to plead in favour of a negotiated settlement by the Syrians themselves.
In the context of such a horrible war that unfolds before our own eyes, an international recognition, such as the Public Peace Prize, would be a significant support for the MUSSALAHA movement as well as a glimmer of hope for peace in Syria.
Palestinian Doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish
Doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish was born and raised in the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. He received his elementary, preparatory and secondary education in the refugee camp schools. He studied Medecine, Obstetrics and Gynecology and obtained a Master’s Degree in Public Health.
Dr. Abuelaish, author of the book, I Shall not Hate. A Gaza Doctor’s Journey (2012), was the first Palestinian doctor to hold a staff position in an Israeli hospital, where he treated both Israeli and Palestinian patients. Just before the Gaza War, he was a researcher at the Sheba Hospital in Tel Aviv and already an important figure in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
In 2009, during the Gaza War, three of his daughters and a niece were killed and a fourth daughter was seriously injured when a tank shelled his home during Israel’s incursion into the Gaza Strip. In reaction to his enormous loss, he founded the “Daughters for Life Foundation” in memory of his daughters. The organization provides scholarship awards to encourage young women to pursue university studies in Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Syria. Dr. Abuelaish remains a proponent of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.
He currently lives and works in Toronto at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health.
To learn more, go to : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Izzeldin_Abuelaish
Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope on March 13, 2013 to replace Pope Benedict XVI. He was born December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in a family of Italian immigrants. He was ordained a priest in 1969. He rose in prominence for his close contact with the faithful and the humble. When he became Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, he maintained his modest life style. He lived in a small apartment and used public transportation.
The first Pope from South America, he is also the first Pope to be named Francis in honour of Saint Francis of Assisi, the saint of the poor, of peace, of the environment and of human beings who live in harmony with it. Pope Francis is a unifier and a person who knows how to make himself heard by all the citizens of the world. He is an authentic witness for justice and solidarity, as exemplified by his visit to Lampedusa, where he encouraged a return of a “sense of fraternal responsibility” toward migrants. Everything he says and does impacts greatly from North to South, from East to West and contributes to building peace in the world.
Pedro Casaldaliga, the bishop emeritus of the Sao Felix diocese, Matto Grosso, Brazil, was born in Spain. He is a friend of the poor and a promoter of liberation theology. He is now an old man but still pursues his dream for a world where all Christians will be reconciled. He has walked in the footsteps of another Brazilian bishop, Dom Helder Camara, and those of Oscar Romero, the Salvadorian bishop, who was assassinated.
Ordained a priest in 1952, he endorsed the preferential love for the poor affirmed by Vatican II without reservation. In this, our globalisation era, he recommends that we commit ourselves to “a profound and integral ecology” by means of agrarian measures to replace monoculture, agro-toxic cultivation and the land ownership system. The time has come to radicalise ourselves in our search for justice and peace, human dignity and dignity in “otherness” and go as far as demanding for the substantial transformation of international organizations so that they may truly be at the service of the whole of humankind.
The author of about twenty theology and poetry books, Pedro Casaldaliga is a “disconcerting mystic”. For him, the mission of Christians consists in cultivating a passion for justice founded on hope nurtured by utopia, to make a world where humanization and happiness for all people can occur.
He received several awards including the Catalonia International Prize (2006).
The Indian activist movement, Ekta Parishad, was established to help landless populations in India, where 75% of the people live in rural areas but only 10% are landowners. Ekta Mahila Manch, the women’s wing of the movement, advocates women’s participation on village councils and shared property rights. Ekta Parishad is also a federation of community-based organizations working to protect the interests of laborers and landless people.
At the heart of this movement for justice is Rajagopal, an agricultural engineer who became involved with various issues pertaining to the rural poor before founding Ekta Parishad. The campaigns against structural violence which he heads include teaching young people the Gandhi-inspired methods of non-violent action. In 2011-2012, he organized a march to advocate the right for everyone to own property. Some 100,000 Indian women and men participated.
Appointed by the Supreme Court of India as an Enquiry Commissioner on the issue of bonded labour, he broadened his action to include landless villagers. With them, he called for legislation to ensure the proper management of and access to resources needed to survive: land, water and forest. For many years he has contributed to the Gandhi for Peace Foundation (Delhi).
See also : http://www.peuples-solidaires.org/348-inde/
For several decades, Roy Bourgeois has been actively advocating human rights in a heavily militarized society. With others, he participated in a long campaign to close the School of America. Located in the State of Georgia in the United States, this institution provides torture technique training to cohorts of Latin American police officers in non-democratic countries.
His passion for social justice does not restrict him from taking a stance on certain issues in the Catholic Church. In his view, equality between men and women also includes equal access to ordination. This was a matter of conscience that was non-negotiable even at the cost of being dismissed from the Maryknoll Society (of which he was a member for forty years), at the request of the Church authorities who had excommunicated him for disloyalty to the official rules of the Church. His reaction was non-violent solidarity.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh – a Zen Buddhist monk – worked tirelessly for peace since well before the war in Vietnam. He was instrumental in founding universities where students were trained in Social Work and other practices, working in communities that were impoverished or in need. During the war in Vietnam he and his students continued to work peacefully rebuilding communities destroyed. He travelled to the US to ask that war be ceased, but was ignored and he was not allowed to return to Vietnam. Being without a country he settled in France. Since then he has continued teaching others of all races and in various countries. He has conducted retreats and programs for Vietnam Veterans, Israeli & Palestinians and many other groups. Programs have been developed for use in schools to teach children how to respond in peace rather than in violence. These are being used in several countries. His work and his influence spreads across the world as he continues at 87 to help create a more mindful and peaceful world.
To learn more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thich_Nhat_Hanh
Both artist and activist, Dan Bigras has worked steadfastly with the young homeless in Québec. Dan was once a young rebel living at the margin of society. He is now using this background and his artistic sensibility to share his knowledge and to actively support Le Refuge, a cause close to his heart.
Yearly, for nearly two decades and with artist friends, he puts together the most popular Show du Refuge, broadcasted on television. This spectacular event showcases his cause but this is only the bright tip of the iceberg; he works with the homeless youth on a daily basis using all means to highlight their miseries and needs. Le Refuge has spearheaded a movement of solidarity among artists who now support his cause. Dan is also a talented actor who stars on many TV series and movies.
A direct man of a few words, his truth and frankness is only equal to his tenderness. He feels the world as he sees it: straight and simple. This direct approach acts like a beacon guiding the homeless on a dark night. Dan Bigras, born in Montréal in 1956, is an outstanding nominee representing Québec for this year’s Peace Prize. Youth and peace: our future.
Héritiers de la justice
For the Public Peace Prize, I would like to nominate the Congolese organization, Héritiers de la justice. It works for the promotion of human rights, particularly those of women victims of sexual violence, and empowers women to become leaders in human rights education and promotion. It also offers a peace program in a large number of schools in the Kivu region where the greatest violence is taking place.
The Legal Protection and Research Program gives legal aid and counseling to all applicants who come to HJ. Mediation is the preferred method of dealing with cases of human rights abuse, but where feasible, cases are brought to the courts. Five lawyers work within this program.
“Women of Courage”, a program initiated and supported by Kairos Canadian Ecumenical Initiatives , is currently working in alliance with Héritiers de la justice in RDC.
I nominate Father Jacques Bélanger, member of the Order of Capuchins for the Public Prize for Peace. Recognized in Quebec as a friend of justice through peace, even now at the age of 80, his message remains unchanged. His ability to spread the Gospel, like Saint Francis of Assisi, affects and moves us.
During his journey, he was professor of Theological Studies and formed young priests. Inspired by a renewed theology in the Latin American region, he also became engaged in social issues alongside the poor and the marginalized. After having studied theology in Ottawa and Rome, he occupied various positions within the Order of Capuchins, including Provincial Superior and General Councillor. In the early 1980s, he helped establish the Social Justice Committee of the Canadian Religious Conference, Quebec Region.
A man defined by his profound spirituality, Jacques Bélanger has directed retreats, and accompanied many people involved in community organizations. With them, he shared their indignation against injustice and their vision of unity without exclusion. In this way he has communicated the art of fulfilling a ministry of tenderness toward the poor and the small so that they may know that God loves them.
Individuals can make peace possible. This is Marie-Marcelle Desmarais’ message. She is IFHIM (Institut de formation humaine intégrale de Montréal – Human Formation Institute of Montreal’s) General Manager and a 2014 Public Peace Prize nominee. Sister Marie-Marcelle’s goal in life is to prove that peace can be brought about by each and every one of us, regardless of our country of residence or ethnic group as long as we accept that peace is possible when we respect each other as human beings.
Although she has been General Manager for the IFHIM for three decades, Sister Marie-Marcelle is most definitely not a homebody. Her love for people along with her unique ability to understand human actions brought her to field work with groups of people facing major challenges. She has travelled worldwide in some 40 countries and initiated no less than 240 workshops, seminars and conferences. As a natural leader, she can bring together movers and shakers of various fields to help them restore confidence and discussion regardless of race or creed.
Trained as a social worker, Sister Marie-Marcelle has been instrumental in developing an educational approach to both the consolidation of individual strength on a daily basis and the development of collective projects. Furthermore, she is at the heart of Bridge Builders for Peace, a program that IFHIM has been promoting for the last decade.
To learn more : http://www.ifhim.ca/
HAMEL, Claire, Une femme pivot, un chef de file, Marie-Marcelle Desmarais, Magazine de la personne, Montréal, IFHIM, vol. 4, no 1, septembre 2004.
Samia Amor is a professional jurist. An expert in family mediation, she is also a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the Université de Montréal, where she teaches an introductory course in Islamic Law. She is in charge of programmes in the Canada Research Chair on Islam, Pluralism, and Globalization and has been involved, since 2002, in interreligious dialogue.
Algerian-born, Samia Amor increasingly participates in reflections pertaining to intercultural relations in various spheres of Quebec society. She has authored a book, published by Novalis, entitled Islam en 25 questions. She is a member of the Orientation Committee of the Vivre ensemble sector of the Centre justice et foi located in Montreal. With her ability to listen and her vast knowledge of Islamic cultures, she contributes to appease the inevitable debates and to reduce prejudices. This makes her a very sought-after key note speaker.
In the last weeks, news out of the Central African Republic has concerned us. While the conflict between Muslims and Christians is at its peak, Xavier Fagba’s testimony has recently opened, for this country’s citizens, a pathway of peace. He committed himself to peace through the trusting relationships he has built with the populations. In this way, he was instrumental in saving the lives of over eight hundred Muslims, for whom he would have given his life in exchange. Nominating him as an artisan for peace sends a strong signal to the entire community of Central African Republic. It also serves to open hearts that have been overrun with anger and revenge during this current genocidal crisis. May peace ring out louder than violence and hate. This is the message which Father Xavier has inspired in me.
To learn more:
Down Syndrome person
I would like the Public Peace Prize winner to be a Down Syndrome person. I think many of them have a real ability to diffuse peace around them. Peace is essentially a gift which is best transmitted by the little and the poor. To receive peace in one’s heart you need to be “simplified”; and DS people do simplify everyone they meet.
Peace all over the world begins by peace in peer-to-peer relationship and self-peace in every one of us. I just experienced four years long this peace in living with the young men of the Fraternity Our Lady of the Star. Just as an example switch for four minutes “peace experiment”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWjFbn0pUjE
But I am pretty sure you could find elsewhere many DS people who could win !
Anyway it could be important for our world to give such a person this important responsibility of becoming a real Public Peace Maker by being elected as Public Peace Winner
Mary Humphrey is the guidance counselor at Whycocomagh Education Centre located in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. She works with students to teach them peaceful ways to resolve their differences. She creates systems of allies among the students so that no one feels left out. She uses the natural consequences to unkind actions to develop conversations that create empathy among our students.
In this Education Centre, respect for the environment is cultivated and students’ sports talents are developed so as to increase their chances of success.
En savoir plus: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whycocomagh,_Nova_Scotia
In order to achieve peace, the world has an ardent and urgent need for prayer. Thank you, Madame Roucher.
The world is filled with people who are artisans for peace despite the difficult circumstances in their daily life. Loving, praying and accepting the hardships in our life with joy and faith is a work of art.
Gently, quietly, yet with immeasurable strength and courage.
In addition to offering attentive and real affection to each individual person she cares about, she extends, through prayer, her requests for intercession to the whole world.
I am sure that in some mysterious way, her prayer is multiplied by that of her family and especially by that of her children.
I nominate Michael A. Dempsey of Hamilton, Ontario for the Public Peace Prize. Michael is a gentle soul, always willing to help others in need. He has provided years of service to St. Vincent de Paul, packing and delivering food to families, collecting canned goods for Halloween for Hunger, taking care and comforting family and friends in times of need. Michael was an Alter server for 12 years and has received a Bishop’s medal and various awards over the years for Christian service, Michael is a practicing Catholic, who takes his Faith seriously on a daily basis. He has been known to be a peacemaker during arguments, is very giving and always goes out of his way for others, expecting nothing in return. Michael is the eldest of three children and lives with his Mother who has been a single, sole, support parent for the last twelve years. He has been a huge help to his Mother. I believe Michael Dempsey is the epitomy of a peacemaker, and is well deserving of the Peace Award.