Interweaving Peacebuilding and Film

International peacebuilding initiatives often fail to build the foundations needed for real and sustainable peace to emerge in post-conflict zones. Sierra Leonian human rights activist John Cukier recognized the need for a new approach in his country and joined up with Libby Hoffman, founder of a US peace organization, Catalyst for Peace, that is committed […]

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Though Our Eyes: Changing the Canadian Lens

Simon Fraser University is a leading expert in restorative justice, with its Center for Restorative Justice and student-run RJ Club. SFU student Christina Ma describes a powerful university event which brought together a diverse groups of students — residence student leaders, UBC students, post-graduate students, master students, Aboriginal students, Christians and Sikhs — to engage […]

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Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

Ivan Freud from Dawson’s Religion Department calls on us to think about the potential of religion to promote peace in both the socio-political sphere and within ourselves. With references to six religious perspectives, he shows us the peaceful values within the world’s religions, highlighting the necessity for collaboration among religious leaders and followers of the […]

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Promoting Reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians

“We must be honest about the real two solitudes in this country, that between Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens, and commit to doing tangible things to close the divide in awareness, understanding and relationships.” Marie Wilson, Commissioner of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission ********** Inspire Solutions and Dawson’s First Peoples Initiative recently hosted a talk by […]

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An Introduction to Our Topic: Truth and Reconciliation

Our newsletter on truth and reconciliation captures the essence of peacemaking – the rebuilding of broken relationships, whether they be in our individual lives or between communities. Reconciliation can best be understood as a process; one that can happen quickly when someone who has wronged us offers a sincere apology.  However, it can take years […]

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On Human and Institutional Lifespans

In this essay, Alexandra Law examines the commonly-expressed view that it is inappropriate to offer apologies or compensation for wrongs of the past. She argues, with a focus on two dark periods in Canadian history, that we need to consider the notion of institutional responsibility. ********** In his book, The Inconvenient Indian, Thomas King includes […]

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Oppositional Identities and Offensive Speech

In this excerpt from a larger work, philosopher Trudy Govier examines whether if may be possible to overcome divisions by rejecting the labeling of others. She looks both at the main philosophical issues raised by treating others as a member of a category rather than a complete person, and at the coercive aspects of the […]

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Reconciling Red and White Poppies

Pat Romano reflects on some of the difficult truths of war through the lens of the conflict over red and white poppies. Both symbols arose out of the devastation of WWI, the world’s first industrial war. From the start, many perceived the white poppy as offensive to the soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice; the […]

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Teaching about Truth and Reconciliation

There are so many wonderful materials to encourage our students to reflect on the real human potential for rebuilding relationships broken by violence while not understating the enormous difficulties involved. Here we focus on resources that encourage us to think about forgiveness and reconciliation through the personal lives of those on both sides of violence. […]

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Making Peace through Apology

Apologies can be a simple human act, but one that has the potential to transform relationships in our individual lives but also between political communities. Good apologies meet some of our most basic psychological needs; they can erase humiliations, ease our guilt, remove our desires for revenge and rebuild trust. The very fact that many […]

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Support the One Million Viewers Campaign

Editor’s note: This wonderful online campaign is now over after more than $30,000 was raised for peace initativies worldwide. The unforgettable film, Beyond Right and Wrong was viewed online by over 60,000 people and watched by up to ten million television viewers. You can still find the film online at this link. In February 2014, filmmaker […]

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On Teaching Trauma and Witness

Most of us who teach about war likely worry at times about whether we really should continue to subject our students to such dark subjects. In her course Trauma and Witness, Wendy Eberle-Sinatra encourages her students to recognize that averting their gaze is not the answer by exposing them to disturbing materials about the Holocaust, […]

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War, Critical Thinking and Self-Understanding

Every once in a while, one comes across an article that captures the issues at stake so completely that there seems little left to add. Arguably this is what ethicist and educational philosopher Nel Noddings did in her provocative March 2004 Phi Delta Kappen article on how education must encourage students to think critically about […]

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Life Lessons from Belfast

  Vanessa Gordon reflects on how studying peace and conflict in Belfast during “the Troubles” gave her important insights into privilege, responsibility and an understanding that those living in conflict zones are just like us.     ********** Confess: it’s my profession that alarms you. This is why few people ask me to dinner, though […]

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A Losing Battle

In this poignant contribution to War Stories:A Dawson Peace Project, Louise Arsenault reminds us of the psychological cost of war in this story of a grandfather she never knew—one of the lucky ones who survived the battle of Vimy Ridge. ****** I never knew my mother’s father because he died in the Veteran’s Hospital in […]

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Spleen à Ramallah

Seeking to experience first-hand thousands of years of history, Dawson student Simon Massicotte travelled to the Middle East to spend some time in Israel and then the West Bank. He writes that his first week in Ramallah was filled with appreciation for the warmth, resilience and cultural richness of the Palestinian people. Slowly though he […]

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Confronting War’s Complexities in the Classroom

 Zainab Salbi’s reminder that there are two sides to war; a devastating film from the NFB on the aftermath of war; the psychological trauma facing many returning soldiers; an ideal classroom text to introduce war’s complexities; and the increasing global outrage against armed drones. ********** Some Compelling Films and Videos that Reveal War’s Costs   […]

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The Lifeboat

This newsletter ends with a poem by Kerry-Lee Powell. “The Lifeboat” speaks to a traumatic memory of war that haunted her father, a WWII veteran, who eventually committed suicide. In a soon to be published book of poetry, entitled Inheritance, she examines psychological trauma and the lasting effects of war and violence on those who […]

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An Introduction to Our Topic: Us and Them

Our minds categorize, our language defines and distinguishes, and our bodies are primed to fear the stranger; othering, the theme for this third issue of Inspire Solutions, comes all too naturally to us. Indeed, some psychologists suggest that as much as 80% of the population in western democracies display subtle biases against those deemed different […]

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The Language of Othering

In this article Louisa Hadley examines how language is built around the very idea of difference, and thus has the power to “other” people. Often, this is done explicitly and intentionally, but, as this essay shows through the history of the word “gay” (and with a look at Ash Beckham’s video, “It’s So Gay”), equally […]

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In the Name of Equality?

In this essay, Leila Bdeir examines the current debate over the minority Parti Quebecois’ proposal to ban the wearing of religious symbols by employees of the public sector, drawing out the division within feminism. While some view the banning of the hijab as a means to promote greater equality of the sexes, what is striking […]

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A Penny for Your Thoughts

In this personal account, Dipti Gupta discusses her struggle to respond to the bullying of her daughter and the lessons she learned along the way that reinforced her belief that “othering” needs to be confronted right away and become a regular part of our conversations in the classroom. ****** A few years ago, I was […]

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Tackling Othering In and Out of the Classroom

Many pedagogical resources exist to help us respond to othering: UnderstandingPrejudice.org offers us tools to recognize our own assumptions about difference; A Class Divided reveals the lessons of Jane Elliott’s blue eyes/brown eyes experiment; living libraries help us see the individuals within the groups we devalue; and a couple of informative videos from our 2011 […]

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Many Others

In this very personal essay, Michael Duckett reveals how his experiences with the many others he has encountered through teaching have not only broadened his perspective, but revealed a multitude of stereotypes that need to be challenged.    ****** During my decades teaching at Dawson College, I have had wonderful encounters with people of hundreds […]

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