Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for May, 2014


Posted by strattof on May 29, 2014

The crisis in Ukraine presents a great danger both to Ukraine and to the rest of the world:

  • Ukraine is teetering on the brink of civil war.
  • Russia has troops on the eastern border of Ukraine.
  • NATO has bolstered its forces near the Russian border in eastern Europe and the US has deployed fighter jets and naval destroyers to central European countries.

M A K I N G   W A R 


According to most western leaders and media, the crisis in Ukraine was precipitated by Russian aggression in Crimea. From this perspective, Vladimir Putin is solely responsible for the continuing crisis.

It is not quite that simple. Largely unmentioned in the west are three fairly recent events that helped bring about the crisis.

1. NATO:After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO began to court former Soviet republics to join the western military alliance. In 2004, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were admitted to NATO. NATO has also made overtures to Georgia and Ukraine.

From Putin’s perspective, NATO wants to encircle Russia.

2. EUROPEAN UNION ULTIMATUM: In November 2013, the EU issued an ultimatum to then president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych: You can trade with us or you can trade with Russia, but you can’t trade with both. Because of its history, Ukraine looks to both Europe and Russia. It is a divided country.

From Putin’s perspective, Ukraine is welcome to trade with

both the EU and Russia.

3. FALL OF THE YANUKOVYCH REGIME:  Yanukovych opted for a Russian loan bailout and closer ties with Russia, rather than an EU association agreement and austerity measures, to address his country’s economic problems. Though he was democratically elected, this choice, along with high levels of corruption, led to mass protests in Kiev.

In February 2014, under pressure from the EU and US, the Ukrainian parliament voted to oust Yanukovych. The tactics used by the west here offer a preview of the methods Russia would use in Crimea a few months later.

There are few, if any, totally good guys or bad guys in the Ukraine situation, just many varying shades of grey.


Rather than seeking a peaceful resolution to hostilities in Ukraine, Canada has been beating the drums of war.

According to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Russia is “aggressive, militaristic, and imperialistic.” It is the sole cause of the problem.

  • Canadian government officials have also demonized Putin, with both Harper and Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird going so far as to compare him to Hitler.
  • Canada has contributed 6 CF-18 fighter jets, a war ship, and 300 troops to NATO forces in eastern Europe. Parliament was not consulted about these contributions to NATO which were made without a parliamentary vote or debate.

M A K I N G   P E A C E


  1. Stop overspending on preparing for war. Instead of overspending on the Department of National Defence, use the savings to improve social programs and the environment.
  2. End the war economy. Shift military production to a sustainable and innovative economy that makes the things people need and provides good jobs.
  3. Support UN peacekeeping. Contribute more personnel and resources to end wars worldwide.
  4. Promote efforts to abolish nuclear weapons. Join other countries to support a global ban on the “the bomb.”
  5. Help to prevent future conflicts. Support disarmament treaties, human rights, and efforts to curb the arms trade.

“We urge all parties involved in events in Ukraine to take a step away from violence and seek peaceful political resolution of differences. We call on the countries of NATO (including Canada) and the EU to reduce their stance of hostility to Russia. The continuation of the Cold War, with Russia substituted for the Soviet Union, is a dangerous policy which limits, rather than enhancing, global development.”National Executive Committee of the Association of United Ukrainian Canadians

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Posted by strattof on May 25, 2014


Steep the leaves in not-quite boiling water for 15 minutes.

Dry dandelion leaves for winter brewing. A health-giving tonic!


Replace lettuce or spinach with dandelion leaves or mix them.

Dandelion flowers are also edible and add a nice colour to salads.


  1. Spread Saskatchewan mustard on two slices of whole grain bread.
  2. Slice an avocado into strips and lay it on one of the slices.
  3. Pile on dandelion leaves cut into bite-size pieces. YUMMY!


Steam the leaves for a few minutes in a little water.

If you like, add some chopped onion or garlic or a dash of soy sauce.

Save the cooking water for soup stock.

Dandelion leaves can also be substituted for, or mixed with, other greens in recipes such as lasagna. You can also snip them into soups and stews.


  1. Take two medium-size potatoes and peal them if they are not organic. Otherwise, leave the skins on.
  2. Cut the potatoes into quarters.
  3. Boil the potatoes in just enough water so they don’t boil dry.
  4. Cut two handfuls of dandelion leaves into bite-size pieces and add them to the boiling water.
  5. Add black pepper, thyme, and dill.
  6. When everything is tender, drain and mash together, saving the liquid for soup stock.
  7. Sprinkle crumbled feta cheese on top. DELICIOUS!


  1. Gently heat 2 teaspoons of virgin olive oil in a saucepan.
  2. Slice a medium-size onion and finely chop 2 garlic cloves. Simmer in oil until golden.
  3. Peel a sweet potato and cut it into very thin slices.
  4. Add the sweet potato slices to the pan while the onion and garlic are simmering.
  5. Add a pile of dandelion leaves cut into bite-size pieces.
  6. Add a little water to keep the mixture from burning.
  7. Add a few drops of soy sauce, and some dried thyme and black pepper.
  8. When the sweet potatoes are soft, drain the mixture, saving the liquid for soup.


Dandelion roots also have medicinal qualities. They can be made into an excellent caffeine-free coffee substitute.

  1. Dig up the roots of mature dandelion plants and wash them carefully.
  2. Cut the roots into chunks and put them in a large water-filled bowl. Swish with your hands until the water gets cloudy. Pour off and repeat until the water runs clear.
  3. Place the root chunks into a food processor and grind them into a course-looking mixture.
  4. Spread the course grounds on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 250° F for about 2 hours. Leave the oven door slightly open so moisture can escape. Stir periodically to ensure even roasting and prevent burning.
  5. Cool after roasting and then grind in a coffee grinder to the texture of regular coffee for use in a coffee maker. ENJOY your caffeine-free dandelion coffee!

Dandelion roots can also be chopped into soup as you would parsnip.

DANDELION FRITTATA (or Fancy Scrambled Eggs)

  1. In a thick skillet, briefly sauté cut dandelion greens, along with half a chopped onion or lots of fresh chives, chopped parsley, a chopped garlic clove, and some sliced mushrooms.
  2. In a bowl, beat 2 eggs and add 1 tablespoon of milk, some basil, thyme, or oregano, a dash of chili or hot sauce, and half a cup of white coarsely grated cheese.
  3. Add the egg mix to the mix in the skillet and let set or scramble.

If you have any questions or want more delectable dandelion recipes, please contact Catherine:

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Posted by strattof on May 25, 2014

It’s SPRING in Regina! HURRAH!!  But wait! Is that a dandelion I see poking its head up in my pristine green lawn? Not already!! Where is the number for the pesticide company I called last year? 

STOP: Before you dial that number, please consider the following facts:

  • The Canadian Cancer Society warns against the use of pesticides, citing research that links their use to cancer and other serious health issues.
  • Dandelions have many health benefits. All parts of the plant – flower, leaves, stem, and root – are edible, highly nutritious, and medicinal.


  1. Children and unborn babies are at high risk for health problems related to pesticides. These include developmental problems, lower intelligence scores, birth defects, endocrine disruption, allergies, asthma, and leukemia, as well as several other types of cancer. Pesticides drift far on the wind and can be breathed in or land on toys, garden food, and clothes. They can also be tracked into the house. Children are particularly vulnerable as their bodies and brains are still developing and their immune system is immature. Older children doing active sports breathe in more air with its burden of toxins. 
  2. Seniors are also at high risk. Immune systems and organ functions weaken with age. These systems which help the body deal with toxins are often already overworked by daily medications and chemically grown food. So exposure to pesticides has a more damaging effect.
  1. Pesticide exposure damages the same brain areas as those linked to multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimers, and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). It is also becoming clear that pesticides are hormone disrupters. Thus long exposure to chemical pesticides can cause cancers such as prostate cancer and other degenerative diseases. 
  2. Bees are gravely threatened by pesticides. Bees depend on dandelions, their first spring source of nectar. We depend on pollination by bees for about one-third of our vegetables, fruit, and flowers. Neonicotinoid pesticides are particularly harmful to bees, attacking their nervous system and hence threatening their survival. 

“Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of pesticides. Children eat and drink more per kilogram of body weight than adults. Their skin is more permeable and their livers do not excrete as efficiently as adults’. Their hand-to-mouth behaviour increases the chance of ingestion and their dermal contact is increased because of a proportionally larger skin surface, and because they play on the ground outdoors and on the floor indoors.” — Ontario College of Family Physicians 2004


  • Five Canadian provinces have banned pesticides: Quebec, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. But not Saskatchewan. In our province it is still legal to use dangerous pesticides on lawns and gardens.
  • Over 170 Canadian municipalities have also banned pesticides. But not Regina. In 2002, a citizen campaign to introduce a ban ended with City Council voting against it.
  • However, in May 2010, City Council did institute a one-year pilot pesticide reduction project, designating three parks–Gordon Park in southwest Regina, Al Pickard Park in north Regina, and Queen Elizabeth II Court in front of City Hall–as pesticide-free.
  • This experiment, now in its 5th year, has been a success in both economic and aesthetic terms. However, the project has not been expanded to all city parks.
  • Instead, on March 7, 2013, the City changed the designation of the three parks from “pesticide-free” to “herbicide-free” to allow for spraying for pests such as mosquitoes and cankerworms.
  • The City also adopted a plan whereby a threshold count of weeds will be undertaken in all City parks, including the three parks designated as “herbicide-free.” If a park has a weed count above the threshold, the City will start using herbicides on it. Is there a health-risk threshold?
  • Why not completely eliminate the use of pesticides for cosmetic or non-essential use in all our parks? This is the question raised by the Canadian Cancer Society which is advocating for all parks in Regina, indeed all lawns in Saskatchewan, to become pesticide-free.

“Research linking pesticides to serious health issues is significant and growing. Leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, breast, brain, prostate, lung, pancreatic, stomach, kidney and other forms of cancer have all been linked to pesticides. Learning disorders, reproductive issues and acute health effects are also associated to pesticides. By eliminating the non-essential use of pesticides, exposure to these harmful chemicals will drastically decrease, contributing to better overall public and environmental health.” — Canadian Cancer Society


Find out more about the harmful effects of pesticides. Google “Canadian Cancer Society, pesticides” and “Saskatchewan Environmental Society, pesticide reduction.”

Banish toxic pesticides from our property, making it safe for people, birds, bees, and pets.

Find out more about the benefits of dandelions. Google “dandelion benefits.”

Dig the dandelions and EAT them. See DANDELION RECIPES insert or call Catherine at 306-569-7699 for suggestions.

Have a healthy lawn: mow high, dig out weeds, aerate (poke holes), leave grass clippings on for nutrients. Alternatively, plant non-grass ground covers.

Speak out about our concern about pesticides at work places, health centres, senior homes, daycare centres, and schools.

Contact Regina City Councillors, asking them to adopt a policy of avoiding pesticides for cosmetic or non-essential use in the management of land owned or administered by the City.

Urge the Government of Saskatchewan to follow other provinces and ban the cosmetic use of pesticides: Premier Brad Wall: 306-787-9433 or; Minister of the Environment Ken Cheveldayoff: 306-787-0393 or

Call on the federal government to ban neonicotinoid pesticides: Prime Minister Stephen Harper: 613–992-4211 or; Minister of Health Leona Aglukkaq: 613-992-2848 or

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Posted by strattof on May 15, 2014


Today, May 15, the MAKING PEACE VIGIL is celebrating its 7th birthday. Every Thursday, from noon to 12:30 pm, we stand on the corner of Scarth Street and 11th Avenue handing out pamphlets with a message of peace and justice.

We haven’t missed a week in 7 years.  If for nothing else, we get full marks for stubborn perseverance. J

Thanks so much for taking our pamphlets.

  • A special thank you to those who have stopped and discussed issues with us.
  • Let us know what other issues you would like us to examine.
  • Should you ever be free on a Thursday at noon, please join us.

P   E   A   C   E


What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or under the holy name of liberty or democracy? —Mahatma Gandhi

It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder. —Albert Einstein

Politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns  and told to settle their differences themselves instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder. —Harry Patch, Britian’s last surviving World War I veteran

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. —Martin Luther King

All we are saying is give peace a chance. —John Lennon

You can bomb the world to pieces but you can’t bomb the world to peace. —Michael Franti

J   U   S   T   I   C   E

Our motto should be: let us make peace so that we can concentrate on the really important work that needs to be done. That is, alleviating the plight of the poor and the defenceless, for as long as most of humanity feels the pain of poverty we all remain prisoners. —Nelson Mandela

If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire. —George Monbiot

W E   A R E   T H E   9 9 % —Occupy Movement

He who sleeps on a full stomach whilst his neighbour goes hungry is not one of us. —The Prophet Muhammad

Feed the hungry. Give drink to the thirsty.  Clothe the naked. House the homeless. —from the Christian corporal works of mercy 

Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings. —Nelson Mandela 

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing. —Arundhati Roy


Bearing witness to our society’s involvement in violence and injustice

Committing ourselves to creative action for change


until   PEACE breaks out 

FROM noon to 12:30 pm



The vigil takes a stand on a range of issues, including:

  • Canada’s involvement in war and the arms industry
  • Canadian Pension Plan investments in corporations making weapons
  • Saskatchewan’s involvement in the uranium industry
  • The suspension of human and civil rights in the name of national security
  • The Canadian government’s failure to keep its treaties with First Nations
  • Social inequity in housing and employment in Regina
  • Racism in Canada and elsewhere
  • Violence against women in Canada and worldwide
  • The lack of a national early learning and child care system
  • The unequal distribution of wealth both in Canada and worldwide
  • Canadian Pension Plan investments in the tar sands industry
  • War against the earth systems that give us life

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Posted by strattof on May 9, 2014

In the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Canadian government, rather than working for peace, has chosen to side with one of the combatants: Israel. In January of this year, Prime Minister Stephen Harper went so far as to tell the Israeli parliament that “Through fire and water, Canada will stand with you.”

Canada is now much more pro-Israel than the US government. Indeed, we are, as Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put it, “Israel’s best friend.”

By failing to be even-handed, Canada has become complicit in the bloodshed on both sides of the conflict.


All the quotations from Prime Minister Harper are taken from his address to the Israeli parliament on January 20 2014.

1. According to Harper, Canada supports Israel because it “is the only country in the Middle East which has long anchored itself in the ideals of freedom, democracy and the rule of law.”

►Palestinian citizens of Israel, about 20% of Israel’s population, suffer from widespread discrimination, affecting everything from education and employment to land ownership, and making them second class citizens.

►Palestinians living in the Israeli occupied West Bank cannot vote in Israeli elections, while Israeli settlers living in the West Bank can vote in Israeli elections.

►Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is illegal under international law, as are the Israeli-only settlements it has built there, now housing 350,000 Israeli settlers.

►Israel maintains an illegal air, land, and sea blockade on Gaza, preventing people and goods from entering or leaving and creating a humanitarian catastrophe.

2. According to Harper, westerners who “call Israel an apartheid state” are practising a “new strain” of anti-Semitism.

►Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry used the word “apartheid” to describe the direction in which Israel is heading.

►In the view of many, including Desmond Tutu, Israel is already an apartheid state. Its laws and policies in the occupied Palestinian Territories (the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip) bestow privileges on Jewish settlers and disadvantage Palestinians.

►Israel is constructing a separation wall along and within the West Bank. The Wall will be 700 km on completion and will further restrict the movement of Palestinians.

3. Regarding Iran, Harper stated: “Canada has long held the view that every diplomatic measure should be taken to ensure that the regime never obtains a nuclear weapon.”

►Hypocritically, the Canadian government regularly calls for new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program, but it never asks Israel to give up its sizeable, undeclared arsenal of nuclear weapons or to sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons ‒ to which both Iran and Canada are signatories.


Why has the Canadian government adopted such a one-sided, war-promoting approach to Israel and Palestine?

  • Canadian companies have lucrative contracts with the Israeli government.
  • The Conservative Party is playing to the beliefs of its base about Israel.
  • Canada and Israel are both colonial settler countries founded on the dispossession and impoverishment of Indigenous peoples.


We call on the Canadian government to work with other nations to create a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine.

Some of the conditions required for a just and lasting peace:

  • Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territory and withdraw to the legally recognized 1967 borders.
  • Israel to dismantle the separation wall.
  • Israel to recognize the rights of Palestinian refugees.
  • Israel to recognize the right of Palestine to exist as a state.
  • Palestinians to recognize the right of Israel to exist.
  • Both sides to renounce violence.


The BDS campaign is a global movement initiated in 2005 by Palestinian civil society. It calls on the international community to campaign against the Israeli government through BDS until Israel complies with international law.

Learn more about BDS:

WALLS TURNED ON THEIR SIDES ARE BRIDGES: Graffiti on the US-Mexico border wall

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Posted by strattof on May 9, 2014

May 1st is recognized around the world as International Workers’ Day. It commemorates the May 4 1886 killing of four workers in Chicago during the struggle for the eight-hour work day.

Today, May 1st is an occasion for celebrating the gains workers made over the last century. It also provides us with a chance to reflect on the struggles still facing working people in Saskatchewan.


  • The minimum wage in Saskatchewan is $10 per hour.
  • It is the 7th lowest minimum wage in Canada.
  • On October 1, 2014, the minimum wage in Saskatchewan will rise to $10.20 per hour.
  • The 20¢ increase will give Saskatchewan the 6th lowest minimum wage in Canada.
  • It amounts to a 1% a year increase since the last rise in Saskatchewan’s minimum wage in December 2012.
  • On April 1, 2014, Saskatchewan MLAs got an automatic 1.5% increase in pay.
  • The base pay for MLAs is now $94,668, an increase of $1,399 per year.
  • After the October 1, 2014 increase, a full-time minimum wage worker will earn $21,248.64 a year, an increase of $416 per year.


  • Today, a minimum wage worker in Regina earns $20,832.64 a year or $1,736.05 per month.
  • The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in Regina is $875.
  • That’s more than 50% of a full-time minimum wage worker’s salary.
  • Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines “affordable housing” as costing a household 30% or less of before-tax income.
  • The annual inflation rate for Saskatchewan is 2.8%; the minimum wage is set to rise by a mere 1% a year.
  • A measly 20¢ increase in the minimum wage won’t do much to help low-income earners’ frail standard of living.


In 2013, the CEO of PotashCorp took home just under $11 million, 528 times what a minimum wage worker earned.


The $10 per hour Saskatchewan minimum wage is a poverty level wage. By contrast, a Living Wage is sufficient to meet a family’s basic needs and ensure that it does not slip into poverty.

In Regina, an hourly wage of $16.46 is just enough to meet the basic needs of a family of four with both parents working full time.

Here’s a bare bones budget for that family, which includes a boy age seven and a girl age four.

  • Both parents work full time year round.
  • The family rents a three bedroom apartment and has a used car and a Regina Transit pass.
  • The children are in licensed preschool and school age day cares.
  • The parents each take one course per year at SIAST to upgrade their credentials with a view to improving career options.


Shelter $1259

Childcare $950

Food $816

Household $758

Transportation $480

Contingency $192

Clothing $179

Health Care $119

Parents’ Education $100

A Living Wage of $16.46 per hour means a monthly income of $4,853, just enough to meet the above expenses. It leaves little opportunity for saving, although a small contingency ($192 a month) allows meeting unexpected emergencies such as family illness or having to relocate to a different apartment.


  • A living wage reduces poverty.
  • A living wage helps close the gap between the wages of men and women.
  • A living wage increases workers’ purchasing power.
  • A living wage reduces employee turnover.

Workers, their families, communities, businesses, and the City of Regina will all benefit from a Living Wage.



Read about the Living Wage in the 2014 Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives ‒ Saskatchewan report A Living Wage for Regina:

Find out more about reducing poverty in Saskatchewan:

►Poverty Free Saskatchewan:


If you are an employer, make sure all your employees are paid a Living Wage.

Encourage the City of Regina to make sure that all city employees are paid a Living Wage and that all employers contracting with the city pay their employees a Living Wage.

Send this leaflet to your City Councillor and MLA.

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