Dozens march for peace in Osoyoos

Mother’s Day Walk for Peace spreads message across the border

Karen Kochsmeier Okanogan

Karen Kochsmeier Okanogan

Peace knows no boundaries.

That was the message brought to the Osoyoos border crossing recently by a small group of Canadians and Americans.

Residents of both countries, some carrying signs and placards and others with musical instruments, gathered together on the lawn between the customs buildings as part of the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.

This year marked the 30th anniversary of the walk, first organized by Donna Stocker’s daughter Andrea Turner and sister Patricia McDermid.

The Cawston woman remembers the pair making a large paper mache replica of a cruise missile and then arranged to hand it over to a U.S. peace group at the border.

“And that’s what happened, the Americans came and took their missile back and it’s just carried on from there,” said Stocker. “I think it is important to continue doing the walk to show people that we haven’t given up, even though it seems kind of useless at times.

“We’re (Canada and the U.S.) neighbours and we should be friends and you have to keep good relations with your neighbours even if you don’t like them sometimes.”

Once both sides of the walk join together at the border and the welcome hugs and handshakes are finished, the participants get down to business.

In addition to the music and songs, there are a number of testimonials from various individuals, and while the festive spirit prevails, not all of the news is good.

“Often when we’re here we learn a lot of things you might not want to know,” said Stocker. “We have speakers from groups like Doctors Without Borders and others who work in other countries, but perhaps these are things that we need to know.”

Karen Kochsmeier of Okanogan, Wash. is another regular at the march each year and is “thrilled” to be a part of the proceedings.

“I’m here to demonstrate my belief in peace in the world and that’s important because it’s not that way (peaceful)” she said while seated on the grass next to her sign. “When these people (Canadians) and us get together, it reaffirms that people want to be like this, want to believe in approaching the world and life in a different way.

“The significance of the two countries coming together like this, even though in a lot of ways we are alike, we are still two different countries… I don’t know, it’s just powerful when we get together and interact.”

As well, she believes it is particularly fitting the walk takes place on this particular day.

“I guess it is because mothers in some ways are really the centre of peace, of wanting things to grow and continue growing, not just killing or being hostile but getting along,” said Kochsmeier. “I am a mom and I am a daughter and I do it for more than that. I do it for the communities and I do it for the countries and that’s what’s so exciting to me.”

While customs officers from both countries watched the proceedings from a distance, as always, they did not interfere as the event peacefully ran its course.