UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Café connections

Yellowknife peace cafe is another light in the dark

By Carolyn Pogue

The Duchess of York, Rick Mercer and Gordie Howe have all flown into the N.W.T. capital lately, so I thought I’d better go to see what all the fuss was about. Of course, I really went to see grandsons Michael and Tristan and their parents. I also wanted to visit Bob Stewart at the Yellowknife Peace Cafe.

Bob is a long-time Yellowknife resident who also lives in Moncton with his partner and peace co-conspirator, Anne-Marie Collette. I met Bob when he lived in Alberta and started Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace. When I stumbled on the website nine years ago, I read, “I went looking for a Peace for Dummies book, but there wasn’t one.” The version of Peace for Dummies Bob writes is more than words; it includes peace education, a website (www.peace.ca receives 70,000 visits monthly), conferences, networking and interestingly, peace cafes. I visited the Yellowknife cafe earlier this month.

A chartered accountant and Rotarian, Bob began working on his life’s passion 15 years ago. “I was concerned about trends in violence and rising numbers of kids caught up in drugs. I was frustrated that libraries and book stores have shelves dedicated to war, carpentry, pets, but not to peace.” As a businessman and member of a worldwide organization, he thought he had something to contribute.

Outside it’s 30 below zero, but the sun streams through the cafe windows as I listen to Bob’s warm enthusiasm. His eyes literally sparkle. Nearby a bookcase groans with books about peace in the world, in families and in your soul. “People want more peace and less stress in their lives, but they don’t know what they can do about it. I want to help people connect raise peace consciousness.” Bob says he wants the cafes to act as catalysts.

By his definition, a peace cafe is one that declares adherence to the UN Culture of Peace Manifesto 2000, to Fair Trade, a living wage and local organic foods, while using the space for community gatherings on social justice and peace issues.

The first cafe opened in Hamilton in 2007, followed by one in Walkerton, Ont. There are plans to open cafes in Victoria and Nelson, B.C. He owns this Yellowknife building; his dream is have the floors above the cafe occupied by justice and people-oriented businesses and organizations. He envisions peace retail stores where books, music, art, jewelry, clothing and more could bridge the spiritual and material worlds. As he and Anne-Marie plant peace seeds, they create lists of community peace allies. Peace people work hard, but we don’t always work smart. Isolation from one another is not smart.

On the other side of the country, Central United Church in Moncton is working smart. Three years ago they began the process of transforming into a Community Peace Centre. I will write more about this exciting, innovative project in another blog, but in the meantime please visit www.communitypeacecentre.ca

Central was one of the first stops for Bob and Anne-Marie when they moved to the province. “Communities need peace, and many churches today are concerned about fewer members,” says Bob. “Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world,’ right? Peace centres make sense.”



Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image