2004 Alberta Peace Award: Peace Education Category - Cecile Fausak and Bruce Jackson

InukshukThe Award will be in the form of an engraved, soapstone 'Inukshuk'.  For millennia, massive stone figures built in the image of a human have stood silhouetted on the treeless Arctic horizons.  Created by Inuit people, these Inukshuks serve as guides to point out a journey or a safe passage.  The Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace believes this is a fitting Canadian symbol of the journey to safe and caring communities and world.

Our vision is for the Canadian Peace Awards to take a prominent place among Canadian celebrations, fitting of the importance of the topic.  In these violent and rapidly changing times, what could be more important than to celebrate the building of a Culture of Peace at home and abroad, for current and future generations?

The Annual Canadian Peace Awards are hosted by the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace. The Awards, in the form of an engraved soapstone 'Inukshuk', have been crafted by the Inuit of Nunavut and supplied by the Nunavut Development Corporation.

Among many other contributions to peace building in Alberta, Cecile and Bruce were instrumental in the hosting of the Second Annual Alberta Peace Education Conference in Athabasca, Alberta in October 2004.

Biographical information of Cecile Fausak and Bruce Jackson

 

            Learning to teach peace, has been part of the life journey for Bruce Jackson.  Growing up in an Innisfail family with high educational, church, and community involvement expectations shaped this peace maker from an early age.  Wartime stories told by his WW 2 Veteran father, which often spoke of the inhumanity and unbelievable atrocities that humans inflicted upon one another left memories that raised questions of why the world was the way it is.  Active participation in the democratic process began in school, included college and university student government and later municipal and provincial levels of government.  These years taught him much about practical political and economic systems and how citizens actually participate or don’t in shaping their communities. 

            Working in several different fields that included agriculture, food processing, travel agencies, restaurants, labour organization, lotteries and consulting helped him realize how “free - enterprise and globalization” were words giving acceptability to a violent and often corrupt form of community organization which pitted the weak and vulnerable against the power and abuse of power by the wealthy and those who seek wealth at any cost.  With this new paradigm of seeing the world, which became critical in making choices following  a period of unemployment and personal loss, Bruce found a path that brought life by seeking meaning in serving and caring for those “left by the roadside of life” as a Diaconal Minister in the United Church of Canada.   This ministry is rooted in social justice, pastoral care and service to others.  As a life-long student, Bruce’s current interest is the impact of early childhood trauma and how it informs and shapes people in their future. Through studying violence in many forms, the peace alternative becomes the only viable alternative to ensuring life for the young and unborn generations to come.  Teaching a culture of peace become imperative to life in the future.  In late 2002,  Bruce along with his “Philosophers Club” developed a vision for a Peace Institute or some form of Peace Initiative for the community and area where he currently lives and works in Athabasca, Alberta.  Bruce along with his life partner Cecile Fausak have been working and growing into being “peace teachers together for the last 10 years.“  

 

            Having grown up within a “master farm” family north of Evansburg, “cultivating seeds of peace” is a rich metaphor for Cecile.  Respect for all life, including the world of plants, birds, and animals, was nurtured early, especially by a maternal grandfather who had served in WWI, and paternal grandparents who had immigrated from Germany in 1929, dreaming of a “land of milk and honey.”  While attending U of Alberta and working for Syncrude in Edmonton, Cecile was an active member of St. Paul’s United Church and there the seeds were planted to make a difference in a part of the world that was in poverty.  She was a CUSO co-operant in Dominica, WI for two years serving as chief accountant for the island’s water utility.  During this time and in further master’s studies in health administration at U of Ottawa, she gained an understanding of  “systems” that can oppress and liberate. Cecile became Director of Management Systems at Calgary General Hospital for 5 years, but it finally became evident to her that her heart was really in peace and social justice and youth work at Parkdale United Church.  In this period 1979-1984, the build-up of nuclear arms was very threatening, apartheid was a terrible blot in South Africa, and relationships with First Nations were mostly negative. Hearing Helen Caldicott and Desmond Tutu and Robert Mugabe  in Calgary had a huge impact on her.  She became one of the founders of the Calgary chapter of Project Ploughshares and is deeply indebted to Eric and Jean Toleffson, Bev Delong, and Bob and Joyce Thomson for the enduring support in seeking justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.  Cecile attended Vancouver School of Theology, serving as president of its students’ union for 2 years, promoting the globalization of theological education, and helping to plan two Canadian Theological Students’ Conferences.  An unforgettable learning experience was a global exposure tour to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay in 1986 led by former UCC Moderator and senator Lois Wilson.  Having heard first-hand the stories of mothers of the disappeared is still a motivation to seek truth and reconciliation wherever people’s rights have been denied.  One of her student practicums was with the BC Ombudsman’s office investigating complaints from prisons.  This provided a whole other view of violence and justice.

            Cecile was ordained a United Church minister in 1988, the year that many congregations agonized over the decision to allow homosexual persons to enter the ordered ministry.  She was a conciliatory voice in these conversations, but clearly supporting the resolution. She first served in Strome-Killam, AB and there was led to help establish the Flagstaff Environmental Association, was on the board of the Camrose Women’s Shelter, and was active in the Flagstaff InterAgency.  Cecile has also trained as a hospital chaplain, and was a staff minister with Alberta and Northwest Conference of the United Church.  In 1996, she and Bruce were married, and she became a step-parent to a son and a daughter - often calling upon peacebuilding skills! And learning some from them!  Like the value of fun and play; and to be more open to a variety of perspectives.

 

            They moved to Crossfield in 1998 where Cecile ministered and Bruce pursued his field-based studies through St. Stephen’s College and the Centre for Christian Studies.  One of his student placements was with the Calgary Immigration Society working with Sudanese refugees and victims of torture.  Many reports of bullying, and the shootings at Columbine and Taber and the impact in the local schools, deeply disturbed Cecile.  She became involved in the ATA’s Safe and Caring Schools and Communities program, and facilitated the series of 5 adult workshops on the key aspects of the program culminating in using a particular conflict resolution model.  Here she became focused on a personal mission to “teach peace” and this is what shapes her life in Athabasca.  With the founding of the Athabasca Peace Initiative, she has taken on the role of its facilitator, and was extremely pleased to co-ordinate the hosting of the 2nd Annual Alberta Peace Education conference. The UN Culture of Peace has served as a wonderful integrator of the many strands of Cecile’s concerns and interests.  Cecile is also currently serving a one-year term as the elected President of Alberta and Northwest Conference and planning a gathering with the theme of the World Council of Church’s Decade to Overcome Violence. She is also pursuing ways to seek healing and reconciliation with First Nations’ peoples, especially in regards to the legacy of native residential schools.