–Photo by dbking (David) – Creative Commons photo (Yoko Ono’s “Imagine Peace”)
Recently I had the chance to speak with Robert Stewart, the person behind the website Peace.Ca and the founder of the Canadian Centers for Teaching Peace, a non-profit organization aiming to build peace through education. Robert has organized nine annual Peace Education Conferences across Canada so far, bringing together numerous individuals from various fields to share ideas for building and creating a more peaceful society.
Robert’s path to peace is an interesting one. Over thirty years ago, he joined a Rotary club in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, where he and his wife then called home. He soon found out that helping to advance peace and world understanding is at the heart of Rotary’s mission. In 1995 he was one of around 25,000 people to attend Rotary’s annual conference held that year in Calgary, Alberta, where he heard presentations from Nobel Peace Prize winners. The speakers inspired him right on the spot.
“The message I heard was peace is the most worthwhile cause and you should do something,” he says.
After the conference Robert dove into the subject of peace. He headed to Chapters looking for books about peace, but was astonished to discover that many bookstores and libraries did not have sections devoted to the topic. He then went to his local Rotary club asking for peace resources, yet he hit a wall once again. Next he turned to the Rotary headquarters in Illinois and was still unable to find information about the topic of peace.
Robert didn’t give up. He went digging in different sections at book stores and libraries and found a “huge amount of information” scattered throughout different book sections. An idea soon struck him: he could create a website that brought together all the information and books he was having to look for in one place. Peace.ca was born.
The website quickly became a hit, receiving roughly 50,000 views a month from around the world. He started to create a Resource Section on the website that brings together books, videos and articles about the topic of peace, from peace psychology to the teachings of peace in Buddhism to child soldiers to United Nations peace-building efforts. Peace.ca contains a wealth of information that I truly recommend as a starting point for anyone interested in creating a more peaceful world and diving into peace.
“The vast majority of people want peace and they have good hearts, but the don’t know what they can do,” says Robert, “And that’s what I see is our role as peace educators — is to help bring the tools and skills to help people be able to build peace at the personal, family, community, national and world levels.”
Peace.ca and the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace isn’t the only thing that keeps Robert busy. On top of it all, he’s also a charted accountant and remains highly involved with Rotary (he’s currently a member of Rotary’s One World e-club). Robert has three children and also ran three peace cafes in Ontario and the Northwest Territories. He’s currently working on proposing an international peace program to Rotary International and has two book projects on the go on the topic of, not surprisingly, peace (one about economics and peace and the other about a personal journey on El Camino de Santiago).
Both of the books sound very interesting, and I look forward to reading them and learning more about how we can transition to a culture of peace, a topic that undoubtedly needs our attention!