Yesterday’s decision by Vancouver city council to withdraw $50,000 funding for an international gathering of mayors of Peace Messenger Cities is deplorable, says BC Teachers’ Federation President Jinny Sims.
“It sends a very negative message to the international community when Vancouver, which has earned a worldwide reputation as a leader in peace initiatives, reneges on the mayors of other peace-minded cities,” Sims said.
The mayors were to visit Vancouver during the upcoming World Peace Forum, slated for June 23-28, 2006. The BC Teachers’ Federation is organizing the educational component with three days of events on teaching and learning for a culture of peace. Keynote speakers already confirmed for the peace education forum include:
Dr. Helen Caldicott, the crusading Australian physician who first rang global alarm bells on the nuclear threat;
Raffi Cavoukian, Canada’s most beloved children’s songwriter and advocate;
Thulas Nxesi, the South African president of Education International, which represents 29 million teachers worldwide; and
Dr. Nurit Peled, an Israeli professor whose daughter was killed in a suicide bombing and who has transformed her grief into a tireless quest for peace through education.
Sims has been trying to arrange a meeting with Mayor Sam Sullivan to express her concern that important learning opportunities will be lost. She noted that since city council pledged unanimous support, students and teachers have been working on peace flags and other projects related to this event.
“What lessons do we teach our students if one year we open the door to peacemakers and the next year we shut it in their faces?” Sims asked. “I believe this decision shows Mr. Sullivan and the NPA to be out of touch with Vancouverites’ legitimate pride in our civic tradition of peace activism.”
Sims said that although the city has placed teachers in a difficult position, they will do their best to bring to fruition the plans for a vibrant and enriching educational component of the World Peace Forum next June.