The B.C. Southern Interior Peace Coalition (BCSIPC) met in Grand Forks on Oct. 27 with delegates, supporters and guests attending from Kelowna, Nelson, Castlegar, Grand Forks and Slocan. Delegates represented the Kootenay Region United Nations Association, (KRUNA), the Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ Working Groups (USCC), the Kelowna Peace Group, Kelowna KAIROS, Voice of Women for Peace (VOW) and the Boundary Peace Initiative (BPI) Grand Forks.
The well-attended meeting received greetings from recently elected Grand Forks Mayor Brian Taylor and re-elected Councilor Christine Thompson. Responding to the greetings BCSIPC Coordinator said that BPI and BCSIPC looks forward to working with Mayor and Council to reinstate Grand Forks as a member of Mayors 4 Peace and maintain its status as a Nuclear Free Zone.
A message of greetings from NDP MP Richard Cannings (South Okanagan West Kootenay) was received with applause. Canning wrote: “To be among people who live and breathe the work of peace (oh yes, it is work) is uplifting, and I’m sorry to miss it. Your work matters. It is important work, even though at times I’m sure you feel you are banging your collective heads against a brick wall. Believe me, if people like yourselves did not work to advocate, educate and inform your community and your elected representatives, who would? You are passionate about the need for peace, and willing to do the hard work required for peace, and for that, I thank you. I thank you on behalf of myself, and on behalf of those who don’t know of you and your work, because they too need you to continue your efforts on their behalf.”
The highlight of the meeting was the address by Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) and Joan Phillip, leaders in the public opposition in BC against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion across First Nations lands designed to carry Alberta tar sands bitumen to the coastal waters of B.C. Grand Chief Phillip elaborated on his organizations opposition to Trans Mountain declaring that unified opposition of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike had forced Kinder Morgan to abandon the project.
Chief Phillip expressed his solidarity with the people of Grand Forks ruined by the May floods and now facing a difficult struggle with government and insurers to recover.
Delegates honoured and applauded recipients of the BCSIPC Peace Activist Award presented to 95-year-old Christine Medvedoff and 93-year-old Harold Funk for a lifetime of dedication to the cause of peace. Both Christine and Harold have spent their whole lives working for a peaceful world and continue to do so to this day as much as humanely possible, given their ages. Both also are founding members of the Boundary Peace Initiative and continue to attend most events and actions locally. The meeting was treated to a heartfelt a cappella rendition of a traditional Doukhobor song of peace and reverence for all Creation. The next conference of the coalition will take place in the West Kootenays in April 2019.