The Shaping Peace Together Festival was held virtually over three days, from Nov. 27 to Nov. 29. It celebrated the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The festival’s theme was unity, despite the circumstances of this year, while showcasing the rich diversity and compassion present worldwide.
Global Peace Alliance held the festival this year virtually over both Facebook Live and on YouTube, marking their fifth year hosting the festival. In previous years, the event was usually held in September. However, due to the pandemic, the event was pushed to November.
The festival began with a message from the president of Global Peace Alliance, Niovi Patsicakis. Patsicakis introduced the festival and spoke about the current issues facing the world today, including climate change, human rights, and social justice.
Afterwards, a commemorative video was played honouring the UN’s 75 anniversary, which concluded by asking its audience, “What does the world want?”
The festival differed from the previous in-person events this year, as speakers and performers recorded video-clips that were available on YouTube, or presented slides. Event organizers also hired a master of ceremonies, who did most of the introductions.
Some of the speakers and dancers were allowed to film in-person but had to ensure that strict COVID guidelines were followed.
Unfortunately, the event experienced some technical difficulties.
“We were allowed to film with strict Covid rules, and so quite a few singers and dancers came in person. We found difficulties with the internet. You need a strong fibre optic so that nothing gets stalled…. We did have to go back to fix a bunch of things,” Patsicakis wrote in an email to The Runner.
Patsicakis says that the festival took a lot of work, however, she hopes that “the message of peace and what we need to do to better our world has resonated.”
After fixing the technical difficulties, the festival was able to run smoothly, and performances from a variety of artists from different cultures followed. One of the highlights of the festival was Trenton Pierre, an artist who showcased his artwork with the message for the audience to “chase their passions and believe who they are,” which was inspired by the teaching of his ancestry in the Katzie First Nation. Other highlights included the Wild Moccasin dancers that showcased their interpretative dance with a wonderful array of colours called “Pow-Wow Carnival.”
Dr. Balbir Gurm, a Kwantlen Polytechnic University nursing instructor also showcased and spoke about the Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships committee during the festival.
Founded in 2011, NEVR serves as a committee that “advocates for services, policies, and prevention, because the cost of abuse is so high,” says Gurm.
The committee is looking for student community champions that can volunteer and train others to gain skills to intervene and assist others. Gurm encourages students who are experiencing any sort of abuse to seek out KPU’s Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships program.