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2017 CMU PAX Award Presentation to Canadian Peacemaker Teams (video)

On April 5, 2017 Canadian Mennonite University honoured Canadian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) with the CMU PAX Award for its efforts to realize a world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation. CPT has committed itself to work and relationships that honour and reflect the presence of faith and spirituality; strengthen grassroots initiatives; transform structures of domination and oppression; and embody creative non-violence and liberating love.

The CPT experience has demonstrated that small teams of four to six people trained in the skills of documentation, observation, nonviolent intervention, and various ministries of presence can make a striking difference in explosive situations.

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Working with Christian Peacemaker Teams a profound experience for alumni

Lisa Martens (CMBC ‘00) recalls what it was like being in Iraq when U.S. forces invaded the country in 2003. She remembers speaking with a man whose house was cracked because his neighbour’s home had been bombed.

‘It changed my thinking forever,’ Lisa Martens (CMBC ‘00) says of her work with CPT, which took her to places like Iraq, Mexico, and Colombia.
‘It changed my thinking forever,’ Lisa Martens (CMBC ‘00) says of her work with CPT, which took her to places like Iraq, Mexico, and Colombia.

“He was a Muslim I think, and his wife was Christian,” Martens recalls. “He just talked about how he believed that the people from various religions should be able to live in peace together, and how his family was evidence of that kind of cooperation.”

Martens is one of the more than 30 alumni, faculty, and staff from Canadian Mennonite University and its predecessor colleges who have worked for CPT. That includes Dr. Harry Huebner, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Theology, who helped found the organization.

Started in the late ‘80s, CPT seeks to build partnerships to transform violence and oppression around the world.

The organization uses small teams of four to six people trained in documentation, observation, nonviolent intervention, and various ministries of presence to make a difference in explosive situations.

Kenton Lobe (CMBC ‘95), who served with CPT in Haiti in 1994 and in Grassy Narrows in the early 2000s, praises the forward-thinking people who created the organization.

Kenton Lobe (CMBC ‘95) served with CPT in Haiti in 1994 and in Grassy Narrows in the early 2000s
Kenton Lobe (CMBC ‘95) served with CPT in Haiti in 1994 and in Grassy Narrows in the early 2000s

“CPT has a strong focus on justice,” Lobe says. “They were one of the first organizations that was working at questions of privilege, questions of the implications of globalization, and the connection of that globalization to violence in local communities.

“That was their work, and they were providing an avenue for the church to be present in those conversations.”

Rachelle Friesen (CMU ‘07) says that she has always felt part of the CPT community.

“CPT has always been part of my peace and justice journey,” says Friesen, who today works for the organization in Toronto as its Canada Coordinator.

Friesen’s work involves everything from administrative tasks like data entry and writing grant proposals, to reaching out to CPT’s constituency, to organizing training sessions, to supporting CPT workers, to speaking at rallies.

‘CPT has always been part of my peace and justice journey,’ says Rachelle Friesen (CMU ‘07), pictured here with fellow CPTers at a rally in Toronto.
‘CPT has always been part of my peace and justice journey,’ says Rachelle Friesen (CMU ‘07), pictured here with fellow CPTers at a rally in Toronto.

“It’s a big job, but it’s a fun job,” Friesen says.

“What I really enjoy is the opportunity to network with other organizations and with other peacemakers,” she adds.

People who are struggling around the world are all connected, Friesen says.

Whether it’s Palestinians struggling for freedom and liberation, or Kurdish people struggling for sovereignty in Iraqi Kurdistan, or small-scale farmers in Colombia who are fighting the multinational corporations that are trying to force them off their land, or Indigenous groups in Grassy Narrows and Shoal Lake 40, everyone is struggling to exist.

“I find it really exciting that I get to work with an organization that sees these interconnections and is working in solidarity with people to try to resist these multiple oppressions,” Friesen says. “There’s a great opportunity to build relationships (so that) we can undo the oppression that we have within our world.”

‘CPT has always been part of my peace and justice journey,’ says Rachelle Friesen (CMU ‘07), who works as the organization’s Canada Coordinator.
‘CPT has always been part of my peace and justice journey,’ says Rachelle Friesen (CMU ‘07), who works as the organization’s Canada Coordinator.

Martens agrees. She served with CPT in 1999, and then from 2001-2004. In addition to Iraq, the work brought her to places like Chiapas, Mexico; Colombia; South Dakota; and Grassy Narrows.

CPT not only made a difference in the lives of those Martens worked with, but it also made a difference in Martens’s life.

She recalls working for an organization in Winnipeg a few years ago that supports refugees.

“I felt I could do that (job) a lot differently having travelled and been in war zones (with CPT),” Martens says. “I could empathize differently having had some of those experiences myself.”

Working with CPT had a dramatic impact on Martens’s worldview.

“It changed my thinking forever,” she says.

-With file from Christian Peacemaker Teams

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CMU to present Christian Peacemaker Teams with CMU PAX Award

Peacemaking organization honoured for its dedication to service, leadership, and reconciliation

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) is pleased to announce that it will present its CMU PAX Award to Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) next month.

CMU President Dr. Cheryl Pauls will present the award to Sarah Thompson, executive director of CPT, on Wednesday, April 5 at Gather. Give. Celebrate. Spring at CMU, an annual fundraiser in support of the university.

Susan Thompson, Executive Director of Christian Peacekeeper Teams
Sarah Thompson, Executive Director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, will be on-hand to receive the 2017 CMU PAX Award on April 5

“The work and witness of Christian Peacemaker Teams bring public attention to the beauty of courage and vulnerability that is vital to peacebuilding,” Pauls says. “The CMU learning community is inspired by the stories of CPT and its executive director, Sarah Thompson.”

The CMU PAX Award was created to honour people and organizations who are dedicated to service, leadership, and reconciliation in church and society.

“Christian Peacemaker Teams is deeply humbled to receive the CMU PAX Award,” Thompson says. “The journey towards peace is a long and challenging path. Yet, we know we are not walking alone on this journey.”

For nearly 30 years, CPT has sought to build partnerships to transform violence and oppression around the world.

Envisioning a world of communities that together embrace the diversity of the human family and live justly and peaceably with all creation, CPT has committed itself to work and relationships that honour and reflect the presence of faith and spirituality; strengthen grassroots initiatives; transform structures of domination and oppression; and embody creative non-violence and liberating love.

CPT was formed in 1986 out of a desire of the historic peace churches to seek new ways of expressing their faith. After the formation of a steering committee, the first staff person began work in 1988.

By 1992, CPT had put together a series of delegations to Haiti, Iraq and the West Bank. The steering committee then set a goal to develop a Christian Peacemaker Corps of 12 full-time persons, with a much larger number of reservists.

By the end of 1998, when the organization reached the goal of a 12-person peacemaker corps, it had set up and staffed violence-reduction projects in Haiti; Washington, D.C.; Richmond, VA; Hebron, West Bank; Bosnia; and Chiapas, Mexico.

Today, CPT has regional groups in Europe; the United Kingdom; Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia); Philippines; Colorado; northern Indiana; and Ontario. CPT has around 30 full- and part-time, stipended peacemakers and nearly 200 part-time volunteers who serve in violence-reduction projects around the world.

The CPT experience has demonstrated that small teams of four to six people trained in the skills of documentation, observation, nonviolent intervention, and various ministries of presence can make a striking difference in explosive situations.

Along the way, more than 30 alumni, faculty, and staff of CMU and its predecessor colleges have worked for CPT. That includes Dr. Harry Huebner, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Theology, who helped found the organization.

“CMU has been a place of nourishment for many CPTers,” Thompson says. “While (the CMU PAX Award) recognizes the peace work of CPT, we hope it also recognizes the deep relationship between CPT and CMU. As we continue to work for holistic peace and justice, with our neighbours across the street and our neighbours around the world, may we continue to challenge, nourish, and hold each other up.”

This is the third year that Canadian Mennonite University has given out the CMU PAX Award.

In 2015, it was awarded to Jean Vanier, who founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities for people with developmental disabilities and those who assist them. In 2016, the CMU PAX Award was presented to Art DeFehr, a humanitarian and business leader.

Gather. Give. Celebrate. Spring at CMU is an evening of story, song, and food in support of CMU. The event takes place at CMU (500 Shaftesbury Blvd.) from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM.

 

 

About CMU
A Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU’s Shaftesbury campus offers undergraduate degrees in arts, business, humanities, music, sciences, and social sciences, as well as graduate degrees in theology, ministry, peacebuilding and collaborative development, and an MBA. CMU has over 800 full-time equivalent students, including those enrolled in degree programs at the Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses and in its Outtatown certificate program.

For information about CMU visit www.cmu.ca.

For additional information, please contact:
Kevin Kilbrei, Director of Communications & Marketing
kkilbrei@cmu.ca; 204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB  R3P 2N2