Once again the world's attention is centered on this cross-borders peace event being planned for July 4th to 8th, 2007 at the Brilliant Cultural Center in the community of Brilliant, part of the city of Castlegar, British Columbia, Canada. We invite you to participate in the 2nd Annual Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion Weekend.
US war resisters who came Canada during the Vietnam War offer our world an important model of non-violence, as do those US war resisters arriving in Canada today during the US War in Iraq.
The 2nd Annual Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion will mark the courageous legacy and honour the contribution made to Canadian life by the US war resisters who came to Canada during the Vietnam War. The Our Way Home Reunion will also honour the courage of those resisting current US militarism by seeking safe haven in Canada now, during the US war in Iraq. The Our Way Home Reunion will honour the thousands of Canadians who helped them resettle in this country, both then and now.
The Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion will include workshops, keynote presentations, panel-discussions, on-stage theatre performances, a film festival and a major peace concert.
The 2nd Annual Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion will provide an opportunity for those who came to Canada as war resisters during the Vietnam War to be reunited with those who assisted them in Canada.
Inauguration of international war resisters organization
Join us this summer for the inaugural address for the War Resisters of Foreign Wars, an international war resisters organization. With speeches by former Israeli Air Force captain, Yonantan Shapira, and Our Way Home event director, Isaac Romano.
Learn About the Our Way Home Institute
Come and participate in presentations sponsored sponsored by the Our Way Home Institute, who's mission is to reveal the human cost military conflict on combatants and civilians, with workshops promoting healing and reconciliation for both War Resisters and Veterans.
The Vietnam War, and the widespread war resistance it spurred, proved a turning point in Canada's development as a nation. In an assertion of sovereignty in its post-WWII relationship with the United States, Canada opened its border and provided Americans with an opportunity to oppose the Vietnam War by moving to a new country and starting new lives.
From 1965-1973, more than 100,000 draft-age Americans who refused to participate in the Vietnam War made their way to Canada. More than half of those who came remain in the country today. Many of them settled in rural areas, becoming part of the 'back to the land' movement of the late sixties and seventies. Others gravitated to Canada's urban centres, and continue to work promoting and maintaining the kind of social justice they experienced upon arrival to this country.
At the time, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau said: "Those who make the conscientious judgment that they must not participate in this war... have my complete sympathy, and indeed our political approach has been to give them access to Canada. Canada should be a refuge from militarism."
WHY CASTLEGAR, BC FOR THIS PEACE EVENT?
We are pleased to hold this event at the Brilliant Cultural Centre, a beautiful performance hall in the community of Brilliant, part of the city of Castlegar, B.C. Canada. The Brilliant Cultural Centre was founded by the Doukhobor population of the region, whose ancestors fled Russia in 1899 after destroying their weapons as a demonstration of their refusal to fight in the Tsarist Army. Russian author Leo Tolstoy was responsible for helping pay for the Doukhobors travel as new immigrants to Canada.
The towns of Castlegar and nearby Nelson, BC and the surrounding region of the West Kootenays were a leading terminus in what was known as the "Underground Railroad". It is estimated that as many as 14,000 US war resisters came to the area at the height of US immigration to Canada during the Vietnam War. New arrivals were frequently welcomed and assisted by members of two resident pacifist groups, the Doukhobors and the Quakers, the latter having earlier settled in the area after fleeing the US during the McCarthy period.
The community of Brilliant, part of the city of Castlegar is located on the confluence of the Kootenay and Columbia Rivers, and surrounded by mountains. The present day West Kootenay Region, with an estimated population of 40,000, consists of many communities rich in arts, cultural life and an activism rooted in the contributions of the numerous US expatriates that have made the area their home. Large numbers of Vietnam era US expatriates continue to live in Castlegar, the neighbouring town of Nelson, and throughout the smaller rural communities of the West Kootenays.
WHERE IS CASTLEGAR?
Castlegar can be accessed by all current methods of transportation.
Daily service by Greyhound bus & charter.
Domestic air service to Castlegar Airport available.
621 km (386 miles) from Vancouver
262 km (163 miles) from Spokane
619 km (385 miles) from Calgary
48 km (30 miles) from U.S. border
View accomodations listed at the Castlegar and District Chamber of Commerce, or at the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce, or view our list of local Hostels. Also, browse campsource.ca for camping in the kootenays.
2nd Annual Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion - 2007
Canada has long served as a safe haven for those refusing to participate in war. When the US attack on Vietnam (and all of Indochina) was underway, Canada welcomed tens of thousands of young Americans who were resisting that war. Due to the growing militarism of US foreign policy, especially its illegal attack on Iraq, Canadians can expect to see more Americans of conscience coming across our border for years to come.
Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion was created to:
- Honour US war resisters from the Vietnam & Indochina war era and their significant contribution to Canada - as well as their choosing the non-violent path of resisting the war.
- Honour those who assisted US war resisters who came to Canada - groups such as Quakers, Mennonites, Unitarians, Doukhabours, other groups and the thousands of individual Canadians who provided assistance and support.
- Conduct a public education campaign in order to prepare Canadians to support war resisters now and in the future.
- Conduct an educational campaign to provide for healing for both Veterans and Civilians and to reveal the human cost of military conflict on combatants and civilians.
To accomplish these goals, Our Way Home Peace Event and Reunion will organize a number of events in Castlegar, B.C and Nelson, B.C. July 4-8, 2007 which will include, but not be limited to:
- A reunion for US war resisters - and those who assisted them - to be together and to share their stories.
- Workshops, panel discussions, theatre performances, films and keynote presentations that will contribute to knowledge and understanding of previous war resistance and connect that understanding to action in today's world.
- A public music concert for peace.
- Workshops promoting healing and reconciliation for both War Resisters and Veterans. Through voluntary participation, some will join in a facilitated process that creates a safe space to hear each others' stories.