Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

Archive for May, 2015


Posted by strattof on May 28, 2015

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, 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.   

“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


Wascana Park, officially known as Wascana Centre, is a 9.3 square kilometer urban park located in the heart of our city. Owned by the City of Regina, the University of Regina, and the Province of Saskatchewan, it includes Wascana Pool, the Science Centre, the Legislative Building, the University of Regina, and SIAST.

Every week, from early spring through the fall, the Wascana Centre Authority sprays Wascana Park with pesticides, including RoundUp and 2-4-D, one of the ingredients of Agent Orange.

A recent World Health Organization report warns that glyphosate, the key ingredient of RoundUp, “probably causes cancer” in humans.

2-4-D has also been linked to cancer, as well as to cell damage, hormonal interference, and reproductive problems.

Wascana Centre Authority has confirmed that in 2015 it will continue to include RoundUp and 2-4-D in its spraying program. 


  • In 2010, the City of Regina instituted 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 6th year, has been a success in both economic and aesthetic terms. However, the project has not been expanded to all city parks.
  • Like the Wascana Centre Authority, the City of Regina includes RoundUp and 2-4-D in its spraying program.


  • Banish toxic pesticides from your property.
  • Let the folks at the Wascana Centre Authority know you want them to stop using pesticides for cosmetic purposes:

Bernadette McIntyre, Director: 306-347-1846 or

Mike Mamona, Chief Operating Officer: 306-347-1812

  • Let the Mayor and your City Councillor know you want the city to eliminate the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes in all our parks: Over 170 Canadian municipalities have banned pesticides from both public and private spaces.

Posted in climate, environment, justice | Leave a Comment »


Posted by strattof on May 7, 2015

In North America, Mother’s Day comes from an anti-war Mother’s Day Proclamation written in 1870 by US suffragette, abolitionist, and peace activist Julia Ward Howe.

Horrified by the carnage of the American Civil War, Howe became a crusader for peace and for the equality of all people, regardless of race, religion, or gender.

Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation calls on women everywhere to rise up against war. As a passage from it shows, Howe’s original words are as relevant in 2015 as they were in 1870: 

Arise, then, women of this day!

Arise, all women who have hearts,

Whether our baptism be of water or of tears!

 Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn

All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy, and patience.

We, the women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country

To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.

From the bosom of the devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own.

It says: “Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

It is not too late to answer Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day call for world peace and justice. 



In March, the Harper government passed a motion to extend Canada’s military mission in Iraq for another 12 months and to expand it into Syria. Liberals, New Democrats, and Greens all voted against the motion, expressing concern for such things as mission creep, the safety of Canadian soldiers, and the lack of UN or NATO authorization.

At no point did either side of the House show concern for Iraqi or Syrian civilians. How will they be affected by western airstrikes?

Here are figures taken from Body Count, a new report published in the US by Physicians for Social Responsibility: In the first 12 years of the so-called “war on terror,”

  • About a million people were killed in Iraq, and
  • 220,000 people in Afghanistan.

“Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”


Rather than seeking a peaceful resolution to hostilities in Ukraine, Canada continues to beat the drums of war.

  • In April, the Harper government announced it was sending 200 soldiers to Ukraine to train its military forces.
  • It also announced it was giving the Ukrainian government a second $200 million loan.

In its war-making policy, the Harper government has the support of the Liberals and New Democrats. According to all three main parties, the crisis was precipitated by Russian aggression in Crimea and Vladimir Putin is solely responsible for it.

It’s not quite that simple. Left out of this version of events is the role of NATO in initiating the crisis.

  • After the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, 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.

The aim of these NATO actions is to intimidate and humiliate Russia.

“Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”


As wars rage on, we call for peace. War is a disaster for everyone who experiences it. War is also incredibly stupid. Surely we can solve our problems without killing each other.

Below are 6 simple steps nations can take that would lead to warfare becoming much less likely.

  1. Celebrate peace, not war.
  2. Get out of NATO.
  3. Use diplomatic means to mediate a settlement between opposing forces.
  4. End the war economy, shifting military production to a sustainable and innovative economy that makes the things people need and provides good jobs.
  5. Work to curb the arms trade.
  6. Work to abolish nuclear weapons.

Canada should take the lead in making world peace a reality. In the run-up to the federal election, ask the candidates in your electoral district to work for peace, not for war.

“Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”

Posted in justice, peace activism | Leave a Comment »


Posted by strattof on May 3, 2015

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 $10.20 per hour, the second lowest minimum wage in Canada.
  • On October 1, 2014, the minimum wage in Saskatchewan rose from $10 to $10.20 per hour, a 1% a year increase since the last rise in Saskatchewan’s minimum wage in 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.
  • Today, a full-time minimum wage worker earns $21,248.64 a year, an increase of $416 per year.


  • A full-time minimum wage worker in Saskatchewan earns $1,770.72 per month.
  • The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in Regina is $904.
  • That’s more than 50% of a full-time minimum wage worker’s salary. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines “affordable housing” as costing a household 30% or less of before-tax income.
  • Since 2007, Regina food and rent costs rose by 45%, while the minimum wage increased by only 28%.


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


The $10.20 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 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.

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.



►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.


Posted in justice | Leave a Comment »