YMCA Peace Week opens with awards

Community Featured

Two individuals and an organization were honoured Monday with Peace Medals presented by the YMCA of Pictou County.

Henry Green, Beth McNeill and Safe Harbour, were honoured as local community members who have made significant contributions towards peace building.

Awards presentations took place at a breakfast that featured guest speaker Tareq Hadhad, founder of Peace by Chocolate, and helped launch YMCA Peace Week.

YMCA Peace Medals were presented “to an individual, youth and group who, without any special resources, demonstrates a commitment to peace through individual contributions made within their local, national or global community.”

Henry Green received an individual award for his community spirit demonstrated by assisting with local hockey teams and playing with the Pictou County Special Olympics bowling team.

Beth McNeill received the youth award for her work as co-premier of the Nova Scotia Students Association and work with Pictou County Girls Guides Sparks, Relay for Life, Roots for Youth and the Terry Fox Foundation.

Safe Harbour received the group award for its work in settling families from abroad and local community building.

Keyote speaker Tareq Hahdad, who has helped his father form Peace by Chocolate at its base in Antigonish, urged those present to strive for peace and for young people to overcome whatever obstacles they face to follow their dreams.

Hadhad and his family were placed in Antigonish after an uneasy life for several years in and around their native Syria.

“It was a great pleasure for me to reflect on our journey,” he said. “It’s about showing the importance of peace. We cannot do anything without it — family, community, business.”

He encouraged Nova Scotia to welcome more Syrian families to boost its population and its economy.

“They are not coming to take; they are coming to give,” he said. “Everyone will succeed and have an opportunity.”

Hadhad said the number of young people attending the breakfast impressed him.

“I was happy to see their interest and their motivation, for young people to (search) for peace,” he said. “I always tell them that love is the answer and hate is the cancer.”

From November 17 to 24, the YMCA of Pictou County has made plans with YMCAs across Canada to celebrate the presence of peace, and reflect on the peace-building work that happens all year both inside and outside the YMCA.

Several scheduled events took place on Tuesday, while two other activities will include laughter yoga starting at 12:10 p.m. on Thursday at the Y and a community peace walk on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. at the New Glasgow Farmer’s Market.

Peace-building is core to the YMCA’s commitment to strengthening the foundation of healthy communities and part of the YMCA of Pictou County’s year round programs.

“It’s important that we work together to create peaceful communities where everyone feels that they belong” says Heidi Sinclair, communications, community outreach and philanthropy manager, at the YMCA of Pictou County. “By celebrating YMCA Peace Week together we are taking a stand and creating the future we want for our community, country and world.”

Henry Green, centre, accepts his Peace Medal award from Pictou County YMCA CEO, Jim Pomeroy, left, and the Y’s board chair, Cheryl Fraser.

INSET: Sarah MacIntosh, left, accepts the Peace Medal award for Safe Harbour from Pictou County YMCA CEO Jim Pomeroy, centre, and the Y’s board chair, Cheryl Fraser.

Beth McNeill, centre, accepts her 2018 YMCA Peace Award in the youth category from Pictou County YMCA CEO, Jim Pomeroy, left, and the Y’s board chair, Cheryl Fraser.

(Photos courtesy of Bob MacEachern)