Peacemakers receive awards

The annual international conference of the Peace and Justice Studies Association was held this year in Nelson.

JJ Verigin

Four awards were given out at an international peace and justice conference in Nelson last month, three of them to people with connections to the West Kootenay.

This year’s annual International Peace and Justice Studies Association conference, attended by about 250 people from across the continent, most of them university or college educators, was held in Nelson on September 23 and 24, hosted by the Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College.

Every year the conference gives out four awards, often to people from the geographic location of that year’s conference.

The Peace Educator/Scholar Award was presented to JJ Verigin, the executive director of the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ (Doukhobors). He has advocated for peace and justice at the local level and internationally.

“JJ has been at this work for decades,” said Mir Centre chair Randy Janzen, the organizer of the conference.

“He is well respected inside his community and outside. JJ would probably say it goes to the entire USCC community for their long-standing work, which is not high profile, often behind the scenes.

“He has helped keep alive the vision of peace and non-violence in that community.”

The Next Generation Peacemaker Award was given to Htoo Paw, who, as a refugee to Canada in 2012 from government persecution in Burma, lived in Nelson and attended Selkirk College.

Even then, she had already done extensive work on the Burma-Thailand border in refugee camps as a human rights organizer on behalf of her people, the Karen ethnic group, and often travels back there now to continue that work.

She is currently working on a Master’s in Human Security and Peacebuilding at Royal Roads University.

“She is an example of a young person who is making it her life long career to work for peace and justice,” said Janzen.

“She has made it very clear that her plan is to continue to dedicate her life to this work for Burma and the Karen people.”

The Social Courage Award was presented to Virgil Seymour, who, until his death earlier this year, was the Arrow Lakes Facilitator for the Sinixt.

“Virgil brought together people to talk about the issues of the Sinixt and created dialogue about Sinixt issues in many communities north of the border. He has done so as a diplomat, working with indigenous and non-indigenous groups.

“And he has worked with other people in bringing the Sinixt language back to the region.”

The Howard Zinn Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Sandra Moran of Guatemala, who attended the conference as a guest speaker.

She is currently a member of parliament in Guatemala, continuing her decades-long struggle for indigenous, women’s and LGBTQ rights, for which she has to go into exile in other countries, including Canada.

“I think she exemplifies lifetime achievement because she started a generation ago and continued to work at these issues regardless of where she is.” Janzen said.

“Now that she is in a position of power and privilege, she has genuinely and authentically held to her grassroots.”

Just Posted

Castlegar applies for grant for next phase of Columbia Ave repairs

Phase 2 will cover Columbia Avenue from 20th Street to 24th Street

Selkirk College students protest proposed tuition increases

Sudents’ union says this year’s 2 per cent increase puts education out of reach for some

Castlegar business owners report highest optimism in 3 years

Two-thirds of survey participants report business security or growth

Former ski champ and MLA’s son hope to open Castlegar cannabis store next month

Felix Belczyk and Ben Conroy are in the approval process for local Spiritleaf outlet

Born 1 pound, 11 ounces, Winlaw premature baby comes home

Indra Greaves was born at the Nelson hospital after just 24 weeks of gestation

VIDEO: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

Personal trips, purchases, alcohol and more laid out in 76-page report by Plecas

Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

New Canada Food Guide nixes portion sizes, promotes plant-based proteins

Guide no longer lists milk and dairy products as a distinct food group

Judge annuls hairdresser’s forced marriage to boss’ relative

Woman was told she’d be fired if she didn’t marry boss’s Indian relative so he could immigrate here

Liberals look to make home-buying more affordable for millennials: Morneau

Housing is expected to be a prominent campaign issue ahead of October’s federal election

Cannabis-carrying border crossers could be hit with fines under coming system

Penalties are slated to be in place some time next year

Man accused of threatening to kill ‘as many girls as I see’

Christopher W. Cleary wrote he was angry because he’d never had a girlfriend and wanted to ‘make it right’ with a mass shooting

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

Lineup is full of new faces after the organization parted ways with 18 players over the off-season

Most Read