Every day brings new possibilities for peace. We are all connected. Our world has an urgent need to focus more on preventing violent conflict, particularly through emphasizing the importance of peace education.
Peace education is how I first became aware of CFSC. I joined CFSC’s Are We Done Fighting? workshop series and met participants who shared stories and experiences and asked questions that were heavy on their hearts. I gained insights that I applied immediately in my personal and professional life. I also went from being a participant a few years ago to now serving as a CFSC staff person and co-facilitating the workshop series at the end of 2023 with Matt Legge. This workshop series continues to be one of the highlights of CFSC’s peace programming. And it’s free, to make it accessible to whoever needs it.
While I’ve facilitated many workshops, trainings, and other peace education activities, I found co-facilitating the Are We Done Fighting? workshops a source of learning and inspiration. Each session is different, and the participants have their own perspectives and priorities. This gives new language and new life to my understanding of the complexities of peacebuilding. There’s always something to learn in this field!
One of CFSC’s goals now is to bring the strategies and tips that are shared in the workshop series to a wider audience via shorter content available in different formats. This won’t go as deep as interactive discussions in a workshop. But the content will reach people who aren’t ready to take a workshop or read a full book. Stay tuned for this in the future!
This isn’t the only focus of our peace work. Each day can be quite different. Often I’ll receive a message to join a meeting or research a new issue that can lead to unexpected opportunities. When I need to understand the historical context, Toronto Friends House where CFSC’s office is located, has a library full of Quaker peace perspectives for me to learn from.
“This gives new language and new life to my understanding of the complexities of peacebuilding.”
One day of the week I look forward to is Wednesday. In the morning, CFSC staff study a book together. We’re currently reading and discussing Realizing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Triumph, Hope, and Action. Each week we review a chapter. Having Jennifer Preston, who is a co-editor and co-author of this essential publication, brings the book into a deeper dimension of practical importance for us.
Immediately following this discussion, CFSC hosts Meeting for Worship online with Friends joining from across Canada. (Contact us if you’d like to join these weekly worship sessions.) On Zoom, we can sit in silence and contemplate about our world. Friends can also share ministry. These Meetings help foster inclusivity and a sense of community.
These two activities (book club and Meeting for Worship) have been particularly meaningful during an unprecedented time. While I was busy getting oriented to CFSC and my new role, everything suddenly shifted. On October 7 we were horrified by the loss of life in Israel due to the attacks by Hamas. As I write this article, a few months have passed, and still many hostages have not been released. Meanwhile, the conditions in Gaza have become even more dire.
At CFSC, we have been working behind-the-scenes in providing humanitarian support in partnership with American Friends Service Committee. Your donations have provided emergency relief to nearly 50,000 people in Gaza. Since December, an open kitchen has also been able to provide warm meals to displaced people. We encourage Friends to please consider donating to this crucial cause. We have also joined in multiple meetings, open letters, and letter writing campaigns to the government of Canada calling for a ceasefire and other actions toward just peace for all.
CFSC’s programs and future initiatives in 2024 and beyond are even more needed in this moment of increasing violence and hatred. As Peace Program Coordinator, I am actively seeking new initiatives focusing on conflict transformation and violence prevention.
If you have any questions or ideas surrounding CFSC’s peace initiatives, or are looking for some advice about peacebuilding, please reach out and contact me. I look forward to hearing from you. We can each contribute in cultivating peace and social cohesion. May peace be with you.
Yehuda Silverman is CFSC’s Peace Program Coordinator.