On Mother’s Day, U.S. and British Columbian peace activists will be walking to the Canada- U.S. border with the purpose of spreading messages of peace, anti-war and co-operation in the 29th annual Mother’s Day Walk for Peace.
The walk, which is organized by several activism groups throughout both British Columbia and the United States, serves to both inspire individuals to pursue peace while reminding them of some of the dangers facing the world today.
J.J. Verigin, one of the organizers of the walk, explains the walk as serving “as a reminder, first of all, to us as people of the importance of peace in our lives, and also it serves as a signal to our respective governments that their first responsibility is to ensure the peace and security and freedom of their citizens.”
The walk got its start in 1983, when Canadian peace activists protesting cruise missile testing delivered a mock-up cruise missile to American activists at the border in a symbolic display of peace. Since that day, activists have been marching to the border every Mother’s Day from both the U.S. and Canada to meet and share a message of peace.
Canadians participating in the walk will be meeting at Haynes Point Provincial Park at 1 p.m. on Sunday to begin their march to the border, where they will be joined by Americans marching up from the Washington town of Oroville. At the border, the two groups will meet and a program will run from 2 to 4 p.m., where anyone can contribute to the program.
Dave Cursons is a longtime supporter — having attended the walk for the past 26 years — and one of the many people who help to make the walk for peace a reality.
He says the program at the end of the walk not only offers a great deal of inspiration, but variety and entertainment as well.
“What happens is that we arrive, we see who’s there, and we make up a speakers list,” says Cursons. “The speakers list is not just a speakers list, because it may consist of a junior choir, or it may consist of a singer-songwriter, or it may consist of someone wanting to speak on behalf of an organization or it may be someone who wants to lead the group in singing an old song.”
Alex Atamanenko, MP for B.C. Southern Interior, says he has attended the walk as often as possible over the last six years, and will be one of the speakers during this year’s program.
“I will probably discuss the role that our government is taking as stepping back from our commitment as a peacekeeping nation. I’ll talk about the concerns in purchasing these F-35 planes, as well as a few other items I’ll think about along the way,” he says.
“I would like to invite other people to attend who may have not attended an event like this before. It certainly is, especially on a nice day, a nice thing to do, to go and get inspired by people who are there to give us the message of a more peaceful world.”
Those wishing to participate in the Mother’s Day Walk for Peace should meet at Haynes Point Provincial Park at 1 p.m. on Sunday. It is encouraged that participants bring chairs, food and water, and an umbrella for protection against the weather. As well, those attending can also come prepared with a speech, poem or song to share during the program.