The serene grounds of the Mir Centre for Peace, on the Selkirk College Campus in Castlegar, was again the venue for a gathering to commemorate those lost in the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945.
After a moment of silence led by Leonard Voykin, those gathered on a Tuesday evening some 68-years after the cataclysmic event which hastened the end of the Second World War heard from a number of speakers.
Mila Richards read this year’s Peace Declaration from the Mayor of Hiroshima. It began with the story of a baby boy born the morning the atomic bomb was dropped. While he survived, his entire family was lost. “I have never once been glad I survived,” read part of the declaration.
Alex Atamanenko, MP for British Columbia Souther Interior, spoke about the importance of avoiding another nuclear holocaust and recognizing the connections between human conflict and global issues like climate change. He also sent greetings from MLA Katrine Conroy who was unable to attend.
City of Castlegar councillor Gordon Turner reflected on the loss of so many innocent lives at Hiroshima and read a poem title “Hiroshima Child” by Nazim Hikmet. The City of Castlegar is planning to join the “Mayors for Peace” initiative, along with more than 5,700 other cities including Hiroshima, who are working to abolish all nuclear weapons by 2020.
Other speakers, such as Laura Savinkoff of the Canadian Peace Alliance, spoke about humanity not learning from mistakes of the past, the importance of always striving for peace through lobbying and peaceful gatherings, and reducing our demand for electricity which can spur the growth of nuclear facilities.
Performers, too, added to the air of tranquility at the proceedings. Members of the Robson Choir performed two songs and Netta Zeberoff also sang while her sister Toinya Fominoff accompanied her on a harp.
Antoinette Halberstadt, who is a candidate in the upcoming by-election for Castlegar city council, spoke about the health effects of uranium mining and also addressed the question of the type of world being left for younger generations.
John J. VeriginJr., of the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ said that peace “comes from the heart’ and that those in positions of power tend to fall prey to that same power. He reminded those gathered about the importance of teaching young people of the twenty-first century about the lessons of the past.
The event was sponsored by the Kootenay Region Branch of the United Nations and the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ.