My vision of a Canadian Peace Institute
by Anne Adelson

The Canadian Peace Institute exists in potential and in our consciousness,
and it is coming from many different places at once. The  task that remains
to us is to bring it into actuality.

When people speak of a vision, they often mean the way they envision a
project developing in the fututre. My vision, which I shared with the
participants at the CPREA conference in the context of Bob Stewart's
presentation, is a little different, since it was more like an actual
experience of the institute. During our struggle to save the McMaster Centre
for Peace Studies a couple of years ago, I was cutting the grass, the kind
of physical activity that allows me to switch my conscious mind off and
enter a more meditative state. I was considering how crazy it was that we
were fighting so hard to hold onto a ridiculously small operation,
especially small considering the magnitude of the work that needed to be
done. Peace studies shouldn't be housed in a tiny basement office, I
thought, and then my imagination went a little wild. I visualized a big, old
house, a place with a big room to do conflict resolution training, a
research centre, a bedroom for visiting lecturers or people who needed a
safe place. It was a place where peace groups came together, where
university students could drop in at anytime to talk about the issues they
were concerned about, where information about programmes and jobs and
contacts in Canada and around the world was available, a place connected
both to the university and to the community, and an integral part of
networks at all levels. While I didn't work out all the details while
cutting the grass, but I did have a very strong sense of the energy of the
place and the kind of roles it could play.

Perhaps just an idle daydream, one might think, but soon after I shared this
experience with my McMaster colleague, Graeme MacQueen, who looked at me
amazed, saying that he'd had exactly the same kind of vision, and,
moreover, that another colleague, Rama Singh, had actually driven around
Hamilton looking for this house! And later that same day, I talked to my
friend Joy Warner and she said that several members of peace groups in the
area had been talking about developing such a centre.

There are now several versions circulating of what the proposed institution
will be like, and I agree with much of what John (Munro), Bob Stewart and
Zlatkow Isakovic have put forward.
In particular, I find Zlatkow's proposal very close to how I see it, and
very comprehensive.

These Canadian suggestions also resonate with initiates from around the
world. TRANSCEND, the organization that Johan Galtung heads up, is planning
a New Institute for Peace Research in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, linking
together leading scholars and practitioners in Scandinavia with the goal of
promoting peace research and education, and strengthening the peace
movement, as well as the establishment of a Peace Action, Training, and
Research Institute of Romania (to be officially opened January 1st, 2001),
linking together Romanian scholars and practitioners in peacebuilding and
development, offering certificate programmes for the first year and then a
1-years MA programme beginning in 2002/2003. I have been communicating with
Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen, a colleague of Galtung's, for a few years about
some of these ideas and in very exciting news, have learned that Galtung has
agreed to attend a meeting of our working group (see later).

Someone else with an interest in a Canadian centre as part of a global
network is Marc Cogen, Prof. of International Law at the University of Gent
in Belgium. Prof. Cogen put forward a proposal to establish a worldwide
'Network for Conflict Resolution and a Culture of Peace' which  recognizes
the essential role of existing peace institutes and academia to develop
concrete peace talks in cooperation with academics of war zones.  (I will
happily pass on Prof. Cogen's proposal on request).

Then there is a direction coming from the University for Peace in Costa Rica
and an initiative through UNESCO to develop a global network. Prof. Ed O'
Sullivan from the Transforamtive :Leaning Centre of OISE at the University
of Toronto has been communicating with Abelardo Brenes-Castor in Costa Rica
and there is an interest in a Canadian link. Ed will attend our working
group meeting as well. (Again, I have much background documentation on all
of this, but suggest it become part of a package to people planning to
attends the working group meeting, rather than distribute it to everyone).

In short, it is an exciting time with much synergy. The next step is a
meeting of the working group on a Canadian peace institute. Johan Galtung
has agreed to be in Hamilton on Friday, September 29 for a meeting of a
working group to consider the establishment of a
Canadian Peace Institute, so keep this day free. I will send a separate
notice about this, but Bob Stewart and I feel that we really need more than
one day if we are to come out with a strategic plan (did I really just say
that??), and are considering meeting the day before as well I don't think we
need Galtung there for the whole meeting, although he would obviously be
welcome..

While the institute exists in our imaginations at the moment, I will be
proposing a real site when we meet: Hamilton. For one thing, it has several
components- the Centre for Peace Studies, Peace Research Institute-Dundas, a
long history of internationalism and peace activism, the Gandhi festival and
lecture, the health to peace work, an active Culture of peace coalition, the
undergraduate student's symposium, the Schools Against Violence work, --the
list goes on. Not just the components, but the philosophy of working across
boundaries of disciplines, institutions etc.  Several proposals and upcoming
events also point in the direction of this being a natural location-- Bob
Stewart's well-received proposal for CPS (or should I say the new institute)
to be the home of the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace, Johan Galtung's
suggestion that Hamilton be the TRANSCEND site in Canada, the historical
connection with the nonviolent police force idea and the suggestion that CPS
could play an active role. It's also a central location between several
active peace centre in Ontario, and in Canada. Anyhow, the proposed locale
will be only one point in a very busy agenda.