Saturday’s Annual Winnipeg Walk for Peace, attended by about 150 people, had a festive air that belied the seriousness of the issues that motivated the marchers. The video will give you a sense of the sights and sounds of this year’s walk. Below is the text of Peace Alliance Winnipeg Chairperson Glenn Michalchuk’s welcome to the marchers.
Welcome to this the 29th Annual Walk for Peace. On behalf of the Peace Alliance Winnipeg I want to thank you all for coming today to show your concern for the issues of peace, freedom and democracy.
I want to thank Winnipeg Haiti Solidarity Group, Eyes on Sudan and the Council of Canadians for their sponsorship of this event and I want to note that Independent Jewish Voices and the Winnipeg Branch of Canadian Palestinian Support Network are here today as well.
Peace, Freedom and Democracy is the theme of this year’s walk. In the 1980s when the Walk for Peace began the issue was the threat posed to the world by the nuclear arsenals of the two superpowers. With the collapse of that rivalry and the end of the Cold War there was hope that headway could be made on the issue of realizing the demands for Peace, Freedom and Democracy.
The 1990s and now the first ten years of this century have witnessed new wars and the persistence of historic injustices such as what is taking place with the denial of the rights of the Palestinian people. We have our brothers and sisters here today from the Sudanese community because their country faces the intrigues and interference of foreign powers interested in its natural wealth.
Civil liberties and democratic rights are increasingly being constrained. As we hold our Walk today labour unions and activists in Toronto are preparing for the G20 summit. There they face unprecedented measures to keep the voices of the people away from the leaders of these nations. In the face of this they are organizing a broad popular summit that will discuss alternatives to that which the G20 dictates.
Here in Manitoba the Government has intervened on the question of a school exam because it included a question that referenced the effects of war on children — including the children of Gaza.
Professors at the University of Regina were pilloried in the national media for their questioning of the war in Afghanistan and the militarization of Canadian culture around that war.
Freedom of conscience is necessary for a democratic society and for people to discuss issues and decide on stands that should be taken — whether internationally, nationally or locally. Freedom of conscience is also under attack. Member of Parliament Libby Davies was condemned in Parliament last week for speaking her mind at a demonstration in Vancouver against the Israeli attack on the ships bound for Gaza and calling for an open debate about Canadian policy in the Middle East.
Today is an interesting confluence of struggles and concerns as it should be given our theme. It reflects the on-going activities of people to change the situation and not accept the actions that are being taken against their interests. Thank-you for coming to the Walk.