Over 100 Canadians and Americans came together in peace on the one day of the year set aside to celebrate the women who give life.
On Sunday, residents from both sides of the imaginary line joined hands at the Osoyoos border crossing for the 31st annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace.
“I’m here today to stop all wars and to stop others from happening,” said Kelowna’s Amber Nedelec, whose surname means peace in a Celtic dialect. “I’m here to create a world of peace, equality and justice, especially those things that protect Mother Earth, that’s my way to celebrate Mother’s Day and that’s what Mother’s Day was created for, peace.”
When asked if achieving those lofty goals is realistic, Nedelec replied: “It is happening. We’re making it happen right now, right here. You can’t always see it happening but it is and we all have work to do and we have to help each other.”
She added the pursuit of peace also includes ending dominion by individuals over others, including domestic violence and sexual abuse. Carrying their placards and flags the larger Canadian contingent, bolstered by members of the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ (Doukhobors), marched from Haynes Point Provincial Park along Highway 97 to the border.
Shortly after they reached the site their American counterparts arrived and the two-hour program, which included speeches and testimonials (musical and spoken) began.
The first Mother’s Day Walk took place in 1983 when two Cawston area sisters organized the event. On that occasion, a large paper maché replica of an American cruise missile that had been tested in Cold Lake, Alta. was delivered to the U.S. participants who later took it to the Boeing plant in Seattle, Wash. where the real missiles were being made. As she has for many years, Karen Kochsmeier of Okanogan, Wash. made the trek from the Oroville Library to join the festivities.
“Having Canadians and Americans coming together is the most important part of what this is all about,” she said.
“With this the boundaries are gone, we both believe in the same things. That’s whole problem with war, the boundaries people put up.”
David Cursons of Cawston, one of the Canadian organizers, also felt the joining of the two nations was a key component of the day’s success. He believed co-organizer J.J. Verigin of Grand Forks put it best in his final remarks.
“It was an especially spiritual closure emphasizing the message of developing within each of us the peaceful attitude and the necessity for us to continue this hands across the border between Canada and the U.S.,” said Cursons.
“Over these 31 years (of the Mother’s Day Walk) it’s just been very much a sense of commonality of purpose and intention to cultivate peace in our communities with regards to attitudes and behaviours that are peaceful and respectful.”
He feels such exchanges should happen more often to provide residents on both sides of the border a chance to interact and learn more about each other.
“The significance of getting together in the first place is we keep trying to raise the general consciousness about the problem of war,” said Cursons. “Often we are discouraged but we remain hopeful.”