Planes for Peace

Youth fold paper planes at Assembly as a protest against Canada’s militarization

July 28, 2011 | Young Voices
Emily Loewen | Young Voices editor

These paper planes may not fly themselves to Ottawa, but even so they will deliver a message to Stephen Harper—spend less money on war. Throughout Assembly youth folded paper planes, covering them with words or pictures of peace, and then sent them off to the capital with youth pastor Sarah Johnson.

The act of folding paper is “something really simple,” said Renae Friesen from Altona Bergthaler Mennonite Church, but in big numbers it could make a difference. And big numbers they achieved; by the end of the week over 1,000 planes were constructed, some including messages like “this plane doesn’t fly, and neither should yours.”

Though the teens hope that Canada’s leaders will consider their message, they are also realistic about the immediate impact. “It’s not like they’re going to return [the fighter jets],” said Micahela Epp, from Altona Bergthaler, but if we don’t do anything they won’t know that we disagree.

Epp, Friesen and Benita Bage felt that it was important to get involved in politics like this because their future is at stake, and if they don’t work for change now they will have to live with the consequences when they’re older. The teens suggested that rather than the government spending money on war, they should spend it on things like education, social programming and foster care.

According to Kathy Giesbrecht, associate pastor at Home Street Mennonite Church, the government should be using the billions spent on conflict to establish a Department of Peace, a movement with chapters in over 30 countries ( Creating a peace department wouldn’t mean doing away with defence entirely, “we’re not naive,” Giesbrecht said, there is conflict in the world but we think they “might want to experiment with some solutions” and find some that don’t include violence.

Though Giesbrecht thinks the government tends to write off pacifists, she said she has hope “my own government and the world can live in different ways in my lifetime.”

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