David Ogunkanmi, representative for international students on University Student Council, promoted peace alongside many other students through education and understanding on Oct. 3.
Ogunkanmi developed his interest in nonviolent conflict resolution through peace efforts with his family in Nigeria. He said he was heavily influenced by the work his father did as a community leader who was highly involved in negotiations and conflict resolutions.
Last year Ogunkanmi noticed that international students had low levels of participation with activities held on campus and decided to try to get them more involved.
“I said, ‘Let me see how we can bring everyone together with international students, domestic students and even the city as a whole,’ get [everyone] together in a mutual coexistence,” Ogunkanmi said.
In lieu of the International Day of Peace, celebrated Sept. 21, Ogunkanmi came together with students who were interested in having a celebration on campus and planned the Global Peace Rally.
The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union Pride Centre, the St. Thomas More Just Youth Group and the Indigenous Students’ Council took part in the peace rally by sharing aspects of their culture at tables set up in the North Concourse of Upper Place Riel.
The Just Youth Group had a booth in Upper Place Riel supporting their fall campaign for Development for Peace — a group that provides ombudspersons for Canadian mining companies that are present in the global south.
The Just Youth Group organizer Joshua Smith said the rally was an ideal event to share their support for peace and related causes.
“It served as the perfect place to show or demonstrate our kind of work on social justice … and as a part of global peace that is also something we are trying to promote,” Smith said.
“It was a great experience both getting to interact with the other people who had similar booths set up and to be able to talk to the various people coming by.”
Smith said the Just Youth Group will definitely take part in the rally should it come back for a second year.
Celebrated annually by the United Nations since 1981, the International Day of Peace is declared as a day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peaceful assembly. In 2001, the UN General Assembly unanimously voted to make Sept. 21 an annual day of nonviolence and ceasefire.
During the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon stated that education and understanding are crucial to achieving world peace.
“It is not enough to teach children how to read, write and count. Education has to cultivate mutual respect for others and the world in which we live, and help people forge more just, inclusive and peaceful societies,” Ki-Moon stated.
As a result of the rally, the Global Peace Alliance was formed and is now a ratified campus club dedicated to the promotion of peace and nonviolent means of conflict resolution.
The Global Peace Alliance themed their rally on peace through understanding. The aim was to build peace through learning and sharing about the numerous countries, cultures and values that are present on campus as well as to foster a community of mutual respect and understanding.
A white banner was set out in Upper Place Riel for anyone to sign with their declarations of peace. The banner collected 437 signatures in languages ranging from various African languages and Hungarian to Mandarin and Arabic.
Ogunkanmi said the banner will be sent to the UN once the Global Peace Alliance has preserved it.
Later in the day, there was a march for peace starting out of the Bowl alongside a charity soccer kickoff and juggling competition as a tribute to the UN’s initiative of “peace through sport”. The Olympics are an example of an event that is supportive of peace through sport.
On Aug. 23, the UN announced that April 6, 2014 would be the inaugural International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.
Photo: Jordan Dumba/Photo Editor