‘He believes there has been enough bloodshed’

Although Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish might be considered to be the exception by some, Bruce Curtis is hoping his story will inspire others.

Although Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish might be considered to be the exception by some, Bruce Curtis is hoping his story will inspire and encourage others.Curtis is the chief administrator of the Comox Valley Community Justice Centre and is co-ordinating a conference on Apology and Forgiveness: Moving Forward on a Path of Healing.As part of the conference’s opening presentation April 26 at the Mark Isfeld Gym, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is speaking on compassion as a road to reconciliation. Abuelaish is a Palestinian medical doctor who is a proponent of peace between Palestinians and Israelis. During the Israeli incursion into Gaza, his three daughters were killed in January 2009.Rather than allowing the incident to harden his heart, Abuelaish continues to work as a bridge between Israelis and Palestinians, explained Curtis.In addition to writing a book I Shall Not Hate, Abuelaish is an associate professor of medicine at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and has performed speaking engagements all over the world. Curtis said he initially contacted Abuelaish two years ago for a speaking engagement, but at the time was not available. He then met him again at the Sydney Writers’ Festival last year, where Abuelaish recognized him, and told him he would attend the next conference.”We agreed on a topic and set a date, and we built the conference around him,” he noted. “Apologizes for harms that are caused are a big part of the work that we do,” Curtis added about the Community Justice Centre.Curtis said although Abuelaish never received an apology from Israel, he continues to advocate for women’s values and his passion is to have an impact on the peace process. “He believes there has been enough bloodshed. The time for peace is now,” Curtis added.Last September, he and his staff began working on a proposal for funding through the National Victims of Crime Awareness Week, and was notified in January of the funding.He anticipates between 700 to 1,000 to attend the two-day conference with groups scheduled to come from Victoria to Port Hardy. Those attending include people working in social service agencies, faith communities, probation services, teachers and more, but Curtis added the conference is open to all. On April 27, the conference shifts to the Stan Hagen Theatre at North Island College from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and features a director’s screening of To Forgive … Divine by filmmaker Hilary Pryor, a presentation by Coun. Connor Copeman of Cumberland, a workshop by Pearl Hunt, a council administrator of the Whe-la-la U area and Aaron Lyons, senior trainer of Community Justice Initiatives on the topic of Introduction to Victim Offender Mediation. “There’s a real hunger in the Comox Valley for matters that speak to the soul,” explained Curtis. “The stories and events that people share are so horrific and laden with tragedy, yet the people involved are able to find a way to move on in a positive way,” noted Curtis.Attendance to the Friday session of the conference is free, but registration is required at: www.cjc-comoxvalley.com/training.htm.Tickets for the Thursday night opening presentation at 7:30 p.m. are $15 each with funds raised going to Abuelaish’s The Daughters for Life Foundation in memory of his daughters, which aids leadership development, health and education for girls and women in the Middle East.Tickets are available through the Sid Williams Theatre, Laughing Oyster Book, Seeds Food Market and Comox Videos ‘n More. Abuelaish will also sign copies of his book, which will also be for sale. photos@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Comox Valley Record