Sixth Annual Ottawa Peace Festival to honour visionaries NDP leader Jack Layton and Algonquin leader William Commanda

Canadian Peace Initiative (CPI) together with Ottawa’s peace and justice groups will be holding its annual Peace Festival from September 21st to October 2 marking the UN’s two International Days of Peace and Nonviolence. This will be the sixth year of this popular festival celebrating Ottawans’ activism in building a culture of nonviolent peace in the nation’s capital.

A full program of events and locations is available online.

Highlights of the Festival include a special photo exhibit on the Algonquin leader late Grandfather William Commanda who passed away last year. The photo exhibit to be mounted at Ottawa Public Library during the full month of September is being organized by Circle of All Nations (CAN). This group together with the City of Peace Ottawa and CPI will on September 22 at Victoria Island hold a special Peace Walk and Paddle for Peace ceremony. The festival will be thus inaugurated with prayers in reverence for Mother Earth, communal harmony, social justice and peace, and indigenous wisdom. This is a theme that will be reverberating throughout the 12-day festival. The wind-up gala finale at the City Hall where the Friends for Peace will host a day-long program of festivities. This year’s special Friends for Peace Award is being posthumously awarded to the NDP visionary leader late Jack Layton, to be received by his wife MP Olivia Chow on Saturday, September 29 at the Ottawa City Hall. Long time Doukhobour peace activist Koozma J. Tarasoff will also receive a peace award. Other festival events include: proclamation of Ottawa as a City of Peace, photo and art exhibits; music concert; panel discussions etc.

A common theme emerging in this year’s festival is the desire to share our common Planet Earth wisely, while questioning its sustainability – whether concerning the conservation of rapidly degrading natural resources or the impact of war and violence on humankind. These have serious ramifications for the next generation. Our common humanity unites us through spirit, science, skills, and the arts, which are celebrated throughout this festival. Mainly, the festival celebrates how civil society’s work over the past year has sought to better understand the issues facing us and to find alternative solutions to those being pursued.

In total, 17 events will take place over the 12-day festival period, and as always there is no admission fee to these events. “With a different kind of peace event every day throughout the festival period, every citizen has an opportunity to get out and participate, and to reflect on how peace, unity, and harmony can be achieved in today’s world.” The festival convenors, Bill Bhaneja and Peter Stockdale say, “We hope these fun and friendly events will give folks a chance to know what’s happening in Ottawa to build community peace and be convinced that there are alternatives to violence and war in Canada and abroad.

Over the past five years, the festival organizers have mounted such extensive program because of community groups involvement without any funding from government sources, building it with their passion and conviction for peace and justice. Its’ expansion over the previous five festivals shows that there is a longing in the public for increased citizen participation in nonviolent peace building at home and abroad.

The Festival fits well with the inclusive vision of the two coordinating civil society organizers: Canadian Peace Initiative (CPI) and the City of Peace Ottawa. In their role as facilitators, the two groups aspire to involve communities and citizens to work towards building cities of peace, to enhance women and youth participation in peace-building, to promote inter-faith dialogue, and explore ways of resolving conflicts through nonviolent means. For more on CPI, visit and City of Peace Ottawa,

For further information, contact: Bill Bhaneja (613) 244-1979 and Peter Stockdale, 613-852-4527.

Tags: Canadian Peace Initiative, Ottawa Peace Festival, Ottawa Peace Festival 2012, Peace Festival, UN International Days of Peace and Nonviolence