YMCA Peace Week (November 14-21, 2020)

We cannot expect to live in a world of peace if we are unable to live in peace with those close to us – even those who differ from us….

YMCA Statement of Peace, World Alliance of YMCAs, 1981
Resilience of the Human Spirit

YMCA Peace Week is a time when we celebrate the presence of peace in our communities and reflect on the peace-building work that happens all year both inside and outside the YMCA.

The YMCA believes peace is more than the absence of violence and conflict. Peace is the ongoing work of building and rebuilding conditions of fairness, inclusion, empathy, security, and respect for diversity. When Canadians embody the values of PEACE through our daily actions, we can build a better Canada.

YMCA Peace Week calls people to: Build Communities. Act for Peace.

When we act for peace, together we build stronger and healthier communities.

Jump to

Act for Peace

Peace is an active state of being, not a passive one.

Acts for peace can be big or small. Either way they tend to grow outward, creating ripples through the whole community. An act for peace may affect only one person directly—but it may show many more people what’s possible.

Peacemakers challenge and inspire others to pursue acts for peace.

Anyone and everyone can be a peacemaker. Join the movement and #actforpeace.

P.E.A.C.E Acronym

Youth Peace Forum

Saturday, November 21, 2020  |  5:30pm – 8:00pm

ZOOM meeting  |  Pre-register online here.

The Youth Peace Forum is an event for Youth led by Youth! Its an opportunity for young people in our community to learn from each other and engage with their peers on topics related to our 2020 Peace Week theme “Resilience of the human spirit”.

This event will include interactive games, a panel discussion where they have the opportunity to talk to local community experts and then youth-led discussion groups on topics related to systemic racism, truth and reconciliation, mental health and living through the COVID-19 pandemic. This is an exciting chance for young people to really dig into these big topics and to be inspired to create change in our community.

Peace Week Speaker Series

From the Inside Out: Building Resilience for a Future that’s Anti-Racist

2020 is a year that will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most challenging times in recent memory. From the global COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of Black Lives Matter, the growing climate crisis, and the sharp rise in environmental and natural disasters, this moment is inviting us to dig deep to ensure we have the strength, innovation, and resilience to face these challenges.

Leveraging resilience that is within each of us, and creating conditions that allow systemic resilience to emerge is more important now than ever before.

Join Leena Sharma Seth, Kale Black, and Anna Kiani on Zoom for this four-part interactive conversation as we use an interdisciplinary and intersectional approach to explore:

  • Different definitions and approaches to resilience
  • Why is resilient leadership necessary?
  • What are the characteristics of resilient systems?
  • How can we build individual resilience? Community resilience? Systems resilience?

In this conversation, we’ll set the stage for the series and each panelist will introduce their perspective of the topic and the why behind their passionate interest in this topic. Together, Leena, Anna and Kale will animate the importance of resilience from their respective lenses.

(Aliya Hack, Coordinator Community Outreach will be the guest for Week 1)

This session will explore individual resilience and the connection between personal resilience in leaders and the ways that foster community-level resilience. We will examine the role of reflection, a posture of learning, and relationship building in developing and enhancing capacity for resilient leadership.

Viewing resilience building as an ongoing process, rather than a fixed goal, this week we explore the foundations of resilience that support this ongoing process. We explore utilizing an asset-based approach to identifying and accessing dimensions of resilience.

In our final session, we’ll integrate the learnings we’ve had so far and consider the role of systems in individual and community resilience. How do we tap into the resilience of larger systems?

Registered participants will receive a ZOOM invitation and a link to the recording afterwards.

About the Panel

Leena Sharma Seth is a passionate systems-change leader who works with leaders and organizations to build cultures that are inclusive, equitable, and anti-racist. As the Founder & Principal of Mending the Chasm, Leena teaches leaders she works with about the importance of developing the cultural and emotional resilience required to do anti-racism work and to enable cultural transformation.

Kale Black is an award-winning Environmentalist and Community Organizer, with over a decade of experience working as a Youth Network Facilitator within the eco-conscious movement. An inspiring, honest, funny, and enthusiastic speaker and facilitator, Kale has a knack for connecting with audiences of all ages and is committed to creating safe spaces needed for community-transformation & engagement.

Anna Kiani is a dedicated community builder with nearly two decades of international and local Canadian experience working in various roles in the non-profit sector. Anna holds a Masters in Disaster and Emergency Management and an undergraduate degree in International Studies with a focus on Community Development. She has expertise in the use of sustainable development practices, and effective stakeholder engagement, to increase overall community resilience.

About Mending the Chasm

At Mending the Chasm, we meet people where they are and take them where they need to go. We specialize in coaching, consulting, strategy development, and inclusion, equity, and anti-racism training.

Virtual Community Breakfast for Peace

Thursday, November 19, 2020
7:30 am – 8:15 am
Zoom Meeting

Resilience of the Human Spirit

This year presented many challenges globally, locally, and individually as we face a pandemic, environmental crisis, and blatant acts of racial injustice. As we face these challenges we reflect on the Resilience of the Human Spirit; our ability to have the strength, learn, adapt and grow to overcome these challenges.

In recognition of the YMCA’s commitment to Act for PeaceYMCA Peace Medals are given to local individuals or groups who are working to strengthen our communities by promoting peaceful solutions to violence, conflict, discrimination, and justice. Through their actions, nominees have had significant impact on the lives of others, either locally or elsewhere in the world. Our YMCA has a long history of presenting this award to deserving individuals.

Join us this year for our Virtual Community Breakfast for Peace, where you can login to the event from home and join us as we present the 2020 YMCA Peace Medals and hear from our Keynote Speaker, Leena Sharma Seth.

To learn more about Ms Seth, please click her profile photo below.

Leena Sharma Seth

(Pass code to access video: gYHLP+u9)

2020 Peace Medal Recipients


Evan Muller

Evan is a Grade 12 student at Oakville Trafalgar High School. After reading about the increase in food bank use during the pandemic, he created The Fresh Food Project to provide boxes of fresh local produce to Oakville families in need, while also helping small farmers whose businesses suffered.

Juliet Duke

Originally from Guyana, South America, Juliet immigrated to Canada in 1974 and was made aware of the need to support people who found themselves displaced or abused. Juliet started a group home where she supported young moms, abused women and displaced teenagers. When she moved to Oakville in 1998 she continued to work to make others lives better and partnered with Food for Life , the YMCA and Arthouse to do it.


Halton Youth Initiative

The Halton Youth Initiative is a youth-led group within North Oakville, Acton, Aldershot and Milton. Their goal is to encourage youth voice, and to empower youth to get involved and have a positive impact within the community. Our group focuses on identifying issues in the community and taking action by collaborating and discovering solutions.

Loyola Development and Peace Student Club

The Loyola Development and Peace Student Club (D & P) is committed to supporting development and peace. The Loyola D & P Student Club helps the world’s poor in reiterating the call for global solidarity to help the most vulnerable populations in the Global South, that they may have access to a better life in which they have the necessary economic and social instruments. This club is dedicated and committed to promoting peace by supporting the poor in their struggle for justice in the Global South. Student members take their commitment seriously in a role where they can make change for the betterment of others by using student voice, student perspectives, creativity and student passion for helping each other, and drive in order to make the world a better place.

Peace Week: Other Ways to Get Involved

Candlelight Gift Card Drive

Monday, November 16, 2020
5:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Our goal is to wrap 150 gift cards for youth ages 14 to 25!

Peace week is a time of reflection and an opportunity to act on ideas you are most passionate about. We are deeply concerned about the well-being of our most vulnerable youth as the holiday season approaches. The impact of COVID-19 has lead to:

  • Sudden unemployment, and food and housing insecurity for many youth living or below the poverty line
  • Deeper anxiety, loneliness and fear resulting from social isolation
  • Heightened underlying mental health issues

Empathy is part of the human spirit and a dimension of peace. We invite you to support our youth during the holiday season and drop off a gift card during our contactless, curbside drop off.

The following gift cards are recommended:

  • Pre-paid Visa and MasterCard
  • Walmart
  • Amazon
  • Giant Tiger
  • Grocery Stores – President Choice is good
  • Uber
  • Skip the Dishes

#actofpeace Challenge

During Peace Week (November 14-21), we encourage you to share your videos or photos with you and/or your family participating in an #actforpeace.  This can be taking part in candlelight walk for peace with your household, raking leaves for an elderly neighbour, donating to a food drive, volunteer with a charity.  These are just some ideas; participating in Peace Week and getting involved strengthens community while building connections

Tell us your #actforpeace! Take a video or photo, include your act for peace or reflections and post it to our Facebook Page or e-mail us at [email protected]

Our Cause

The YMCA of Oakville is more than a gym and swim, we are a cause! The YMCA does not just strengthen bodies – the YMCA strengthens community.

More than cardio, a healthy and active lifestyle
More than a canoe, a springboard to leadership
More thank aquafit, an opportunity to make friends
More than financial assistance, a springboard to life
More than bricks and mortar, a place of belonging

Together, we move forward…

We are deeply concerned for the immediate well-being of families, children and youth impacted by covid-19 and the long-term repercussions on vulnerable populations.

Prior to March, one in 12 children were living at or below the poverty line in Oakville. We expect that number to increase because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are inviting you to help build a resilient community by donating to the YMCA of Oakville. We have a fundraising goal of $250,000.00.

With your donation, together, we are

  • Removing social isolation
  • Improving mental health
  • Strengthening a sense of belonging
  • Improving access to services