Summary of YK Peace Cafe meetings November 1 - 5, 2010


Following is a Summary of highlights of the Yellowknife Centre for Teaching Peace and Peace Café meetings of November 1 – 5, 2010 as scribed (and interpreted) by Bob Stewart. 


·        Over 50 people contacted me in the course of the week; 28 people came out to the 4 public meetings; I had meetings with 13 others.  The feedback, interest, commitment and support indicated was very heart warming.  There has been a wait for some time for this.  

   Issues Identified

·         There is lots of stress in Yellowknife, including in the schools.  There are a lot of people searching (for meaning, etc.), frustrated.  Stress has become the #1 killer (although it may manifest as such things as heart attack and other dis-eases).  There is a need for education and social change to address.  There are many gaps to fill.  Many people are on a Life long quest to find peace within.

·         A challenge identified is setting the “ground rules” and creating the right environment for organizations and people of diverse interests, agendas, egos and passions to speak safely and without “preaching”.

·         Social problems identified include bullying by electronic communication; suicide; depression; abuse; social inequities; addictions of all sorts.

·         There are approximately 120 different cultural groups in YK, and there is a need to learn about, understand and respect each other.  There are a lot of foreign professionals who can not get their accreditation to practice here, which means they are not working in their area of skill.  It would be nice to do multi-cultural gatherings and diversity in the workplace workshops; How different religions can live together.  

·         There are a lot of good people and organizations in YK, but many are working in their “silos”, or working at home where they may be isolated.  There is a need for a gathering place where they can come together to network, trade information, build bridges, create partnerships, share common services, etc.

·         We discussed the need for “Aboriginal Centres for Teaching Peace” as a place for Elders to share their wisdom and traditional (Spiritual) knowledge, ways and healing, reconnecting with young people and other cultures.  There is a need to recognize and respect the Laws of Creation (Creator), and what Aboriginal peoples have to share, and take the best of the teachings.  “Strong like two people” (to quote Chief Jimmy Bruneau).  The Elders look at Peace as most important.  (The 7 teachings was mentioned. Eg. )

·         We discussed the need for creating a financially and organizationally viable and sustainable Resource Centre, and the various ways that could happen.  A wish to make a living doing this.  There appeared to be a common sense that it was possible.

·         There is an anger within the helping (caring) industry, and a need for workshops for activists, dealing with internal things.  “Be the change you seek in the world” (to quote Gandhi).

·         A challenge identified was “capitalist dis-ease” (i.e. the political power of money; greed; undervaluing the helping/caring professions and “women’s work”).  There is a need to bridge the material and spiritual worlds, as each has something to bring to Life.  (Triple bottom line merit was mentioned, Nunasi Corporation as an example was mentioned.)

·         We (and our children) can see the beginning of health care industry collapse, expect the economic structure will “topple” soon, environment suffering – a lot of societal dysfunction.  We need to act sooner than later.  

·         Historically, the NWT has been a pretty peaceful place – patient.  However, the NWT Culture of Peace is being lost.  

   Suggestions Offered

·         It would be nice to have: a place of healing; a place for taking care of Self; a safe place to come; a “gathering” place; a central place.

·         It would be nice to have: a “Big Picture of Peace Workshop”; How we can live peacefully together; How to take care of Self; How we can be the best we can be; Life Coaching classes; video streaming big screen discussion groups; Evolutionary Leaders discussion group; How to bring spirituality to business.

·         People are prepared to volunteer; need to be clear what to do.

·         The Peace Café should offer healthy food (and food for diabetics), grown locally if possible.  (The question of a rooftop garden came up.  A suggestion also came up to paint Peace Murals on the walls, and build in “Happy Lights”.)

·         The need for a “Champion” was raised.  We talked about wanting not one champion but a community of champions and shared leadership – recognizing and honouring that everyone in the community has an important piece of the puzzle to bring, and that we are all in this together (“this” being community; and community building).

·         The Peace Café has been referred to as a “Barefoot University” and may engage with the University of Alberta to see if some University credit can be given, along the lines of Bush U.

·         In an environment of constrained resources, the merit of initially targeting people with a wider circle of influence and benefiting from the “trickle-down effect” was raised.  

   Next Steps

·         The next step is to start an email listserver communication tool (see below for instructions), assemble an Implementation Committee, listen to the community, build participation, grow cohesion, seek donations of furniture, seek to start the Speaker Series and Workshops as soon as possible, add responses to Frequently Asked Questions to the web page .  I will be moving my Peace Library into the building by December 1, 2010, and plan to offer to host more information sessions between December 1 and 10 to help take things to the next level.     


The idea of a Yellowknife Centre for Teaching Peace and Peace Café is new and developmental, and will rely on many people volunteering to contribute, with their hearts and minds in the right place.  As one Participant said, “Go as you grow”.  In other words, we are not going to be perfect at the start, and patience as we work through our growing pains will help.  The good news is we have a clean slate and open space to start in Yellowknife, and can build upon the experiences of many – the wisdom is in Yellowknife to do this “right” (i.e. what works best).


For more information:

Bob Stewart, C.A., C.M.C.

Facilitator, Yellowknife Centre for Teaching Peace

Director, Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace



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