Alumni Profiles Articles

CSOP Participant Profile – Marissa Rykiss

I’m really grateful … It was a very inspiring time in my life,’ says Marissa Rykiss

For Marissa Rykiss, attending the Canadian School of Peacebuilding was nothing short of life changing.

The 22-year-old Winnipegger enrolled in the course “Women and Peacebuilding” at the 2012 CSOP as part of a B.A. program in Conflict Resolution Studies at Menno Simons College.

Inspired by her mother, who practices collaborative law, Rykiss wanted to pursue a career as an immigration lawyer in order to make a difference in the world by helping vulnerable people.

After finishing the course, Rykiss realized she wanted to help people in a different way. Now, she plans to pursue a Master of Arts degree in Family Therapy.

First though, Rykiss is becoming a certified yoga instructor. She wants to teach yoga and potentially open her own studio.

Rykiss says her interest in teaching yoga stems from her desire to help people develop their self care so that they can be better people and lead more compassionate, empathetic lives.

“After taking [the CSOP] course, I realized there’s so many other ways I can help people, and I don’t necessarily need to have a title like lawyer to do that,” she says. “My happiness, and the happiness of others, is more important to me than having a title like that.”

Ouyporn Khuankaew, a Buddhist feminist peace trainer from Thailand, and Anna Snyder, associate professor of conflict resolution studies at Menno Simons College, taught the course.

Rykiss says it was the way the course was taught that impacted her so greatly.

“Ouyporn had a non-traditional way of teaching where she offered guided meditation at the beginning of each day, and it just allowed us to become a bit more mindful while we were present in the class,” Rykiss says. “She is one of the most inspiring and engaging women I’ve ever met.”

When the course ended, it was emotional for Rykiss.

“I cried on the last day and was so happy that I decided to participate in that particular course,” she says. “It felt like it was meant to be. It made me ask myself why I need to be pursuing something (a career in law) that isn’t consistent with who I am, and helped me understand that where I need to be is in a more transformative pathway—helping people who can’t help themselves get to a place of awareness and mindfulness.

“It wasn’t intended in the curriculum, but that’s just what I got out of it. A lot of people who participated were put off originally by this new way of thinking, but by the end, everyone there had experienced profound change in the way they thought about learning.”

Rykiss’s experience in the course led her to pursue a practicum placement in Thailand with International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice (IWP), an organization Khuankaew co-founded.

Rykiss’s work in Thailand included helping with a weeklong workshop for women that IWP organized. Each day began with yoga. While Rykiss had practiced yoga before, it was during this week that she came to fully appreciate the healing nature of yoga therapy.

“I realized … how important it is for people to learn how to be better to themselves, to treat themselves better and come back to themselves through yoga and meditation,” she says.

The practicum and change in career direction would not have happened without Rykiss’s transformative experience at the CSOP.

“I’m really grateful that I was able to take a course where everything could be condensed into five days,” she says. “There are such a variety of courses [at CSOP], and [the organizers] go out of their way to find people to teach the courses who have first-hand experience with the material.

“It was a very inspiring time in my life.”

Schools & Institutes Video

Canadian School of Peacebuilding – Participant Reflections


General News News Releases

CSOP announces international mix of instructors for 2014

Eight renowned peacekeeping instructors highlight peacebuilding program’s sixth year

Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP), an annual summer peace and justice program of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), hosts eight renowned instructors from around the world as faculty for its 2014 school. Each instructor will teach a 5-day intensive course related to peace, justice, and conflict resolution during one of CSOP’s two sessions.


 “This is CSOP’s sixth year and the program’s growing reputation, both locally and globally, has helped us recruit spectacular instructors,” says CSOP Co-Director Valerie Smith. “Similarly, CSOP has attracts participants coming from a wide diversity of cultures, professions and faith backgrounds every year. The positive impact resulting from the learning, collaboration, and interaction of our instructors and students is remarkable and encouraging. All leave the program better equipped with peacebuilding skills that can be used in the workplace, at home or in their communities.”

“We’re always amazed by our students and how the experiences they bring shape the program. They arrive ready to engage with one another. It’s incredible to see the depth of their conversations by the end of a week together,” says CSOP Co-Director Jarem Sawatzky. “Combine these eager learners and contributors with the quality and diversity of the instructors and you have the foundation for life-changing growth and development. CSOP is plugged into an ever-growing network of peacebuilders and that’s exciting.”

CSOP’s first session runs from June 16-20 and features three courses: “Peace Skills Practice,” led by Natasha Mohammed; “Exploring Indigenous Justice and Healing,” by Rupert Ross”; and “Food, Farming and Faith: Living in God’s Creation,” by Norman Wirzba.

Courses in the second session, June 23-27, feature the following: “Restorative Justice with Youth and Schools,” led by Alana Abramson and John R. Weins; “Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience,” led by Elaine Zook Barge; “De-Colonial Theology: Thought and Practice,” by Terry LeBlanc; and “Arts Approaches to Community-Based Peacebuilding,” by Babu Ayindo.

About the Canadian School of Peacebuilding
CSOP aims to educate on peace and justice issues and encourage discussion in a collaborative environment. The goal is for participants to leave these sessions with a new understanding of emerging ideas in peace studies, encouraged to take these practices into their daily living. In addition to the CSOP summer program, courses are available year-round at Canadian Mennonite University’s Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses.

Through its south Winnipeg Shaftesbury campus and its Menno Simons College campus at The University of Winnipeg, Canadian Mennonite University offers one of the most comprehensive undergraduate programs in peace and conflict studies in the world.

Canadian School of Peacebuilding Instructors, June 2014

aaAlana Abramson holds a Master’s degree in Criminology from Simon Fraser University and is completing her PhD on the topic of transformational learning and restorative justice. Alana has been an energetic practitioner and educator in the field of restorative justice since 1999. Alana has background with crisis intervention as well as extensive practical experience training to facilitate restorative approaches in prison, school, and community settings.  She has been a sessional instructor with Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Douglas College and Simon Fraser University and has worked with various policing agencies to promote more restorative responses for community members including youth and people with disabilities

baBabu Ayindo, back by popular demand, currently functions as an independent consultant in the design and facilitation of conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives, processes and interventions; as a researcher and trainer in arts, peace education and development communication; and as a program developer and evaluator with various organizations. He has extensive experience in applying “arts approaches” in peacebuilding in various parts of the world since the mid-1980s when he served as artistic director of Chelepe Arts (Nairobi, Kenya) and later as founding artistic director of Amani People’s Theater (Nairobi, Kenya). Babu has taught at peacebuilding institutes around the world. Babu is a Kenyan involved in the design, facilitation and evaluation of conflict transformation and peacebuilding processes for almost two decades in numerous parts of the world. He has also published several articles on arts, peace, and politics, including “Arts Approaches to Peace: Playing Our Way to Transcendence” published in Peacebuilding in Traumatized Societies.

azbElaine Zook Barge is the Director of STAR: Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience, an integrated training program of the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. During the 1980s and 1990s she worked in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala with Mennonite Central Committee. In her work with communities in conflict zones, Elaine experienced firsthand violence, conflict, poverty, and resilience. She facilitates STAR trainings at Eastern Mennonite University, throughout the US, and in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. She holds an MA in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding and a Bachelor of Science in nutrition/community development from Eastern Mennonite University.

tlTerry LeBlanc is Mi’kmaq / Acadian, resides in Alberta, and is in his 41st year of marriage to Bev. He is the father of Jennifer, Jeanine, and Matt. He is the founding Chair and Director of the North American Institute for Indigenous Theological Studies (NAIITS). Terry also teaches at George Fox University and Evangelical Seminary, and Tyndale University College and Seminary. Author of various works, Terry has won several awards for his writing. In June 2010, for his part in the creation of NAIITS, Terry became the 28th recipient of the Dr. E.H. Johnson Memorial Award for Innovation in Mission.

nmNatasha Mohammed has a background in International Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies. In addition to serving as a community counsellor, mediator, group facilitator and Victim Impact Worker, Natasha has taught conflict resolution skills and theory in government, community and university contexts for the past 18 years. She has also worked with participatory processes to create various learning programs, including diversity and youth violence prevention-based curricula.

Natasha has a special interest in conflict and culture. She is a founding member of Winnipeg Mosaic, a collective of local peacemakers who foster understanding of the role of religion and culture in life and conflict. Through her work in the federal Multiculturalism Program she is able to support the voices of both mainstream and marginalized communities in ways that ultimately facilitate their development and inclusion into Canadian society. For Natasha relationship is the key to peace in the world, your community, your family and yourself.

rrRupert Ross, as Assistant Crown Attorney for the District of Kenora for more than 20 years, was responsible for criminal prosecutions on over 20 remote Ojibway and Cree First Nations. Between 1992 and 1995, he was seconded to the federal Aboriginal Justice Directorate where he travelled across Canada examining Aboriginal approaches to justice with special emphasis on healing programs for victims, offenders, families, and communities.He wrote two national best-selling books  about his journey which radically reshaped the field of restorative justice: Dancing with a Ghost and Return to the  Teachings: Exploring Aboriginal Justice. Prior to becoming a lawyer, Rupert worked as a fishing guide in northwestern Ontario, an assistant film editor in Ottawa, a road manager for a Toronto rock band, a bartender in Spain, and a ski instructor in Minaki, Ontario.

jrwJohn R. Wiens recently retired as Dean of Education at the University of Manitoba.  He has strong links to the education community not only in Manitoba, but across Canada. He has worked as a teacher, counsellor, work education coordinator, principal, school superintendent and university lecturer. John is an active educational leader and has served as president of the Manitoba Teacher’s Society, the Canadian Education Association, the Manitoba Research Council, and the Manitoba Educators for Social Responsibility. He also spent a number of years as the chair of the Universities’ Grants Commission and as the director of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, the Board of Teacher Education and Certification, and the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents. A few of John’s awards and achievements include: the John M. Brown Award for contributions to teacher education (1998), an honourary doctorate from Brandon University (2000), life memberships in the Manitoba Teachers’ Society, the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents, and the Canadian Education Association (2002), and the Manitoba Association of School Trustees President’s Council Award (2007). He was also awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal (2002) for service in education.

nwNorman Wirzba is Professor of Theology and Ecology at Duke Divinity School and Research Professor in Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. His academic training is in philosophy and theology combined with his background in farming in southern Alberta has led him to research in agrarian studies and ecology. He teaches and writes at the intersection of these disciplines, and has published numerous books including The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age, Living the Sabbath, Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, and Making Peace with the Land.

Schools & Institutes Video

Canadian School of Peacebuilding – Walking with Our Sisters


Schools & Institutes Video

Canadian School of Peacebuilding – David Caceras: Peace, Not War



CSOP Participant Profile – David Caceres (2013)

by Aaron Epp

‘War is something that no one should live,’ says retired Peruvian colonel.

If anyone knows about the realities of war, it’s David Caceres.

Caceres, who calls Lima, Peru home, was a colonel in the Peruvian army and served his country during the 1980s and 1990s. Witnessing the atrocities of armed conflict during the Cenepa War, a 1995 border dispute between Ecuador and Peru, caused Caceres to reevaluate what he wanted to do with his life.

David Caceres
David Caceres

“War is something that no one should live,” says Caceres, who was in Winnipeg June 17-28, 2013 to study at Canadian Mennonite University’s (CMU) Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP). “We should have to respect everyone’s life.”

After the Cenepa War, Caceres began working for the Peruvian army in a peacekeeping capacity. That led to a job at the United Nations, where Caceres worked for four years as a training officer. In that role, he developed military training materials for the UN’s Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

With a wide range of experiences in managing human resources, mediation, and conflict resolution at the international level, Caceres has facilitated seminars, workshops, courses, and training in Africa, Europe, Asia, America, and Latin America.

Caceres is currently the Lima District Manager for World Mediation Organization, where he consults and trains people in mediation and conflict resolution.

He is also in the process of developing the International Peace Studies Center of Peru  that will help enhance the capabilities of communities and government workers to deal with conflicts in Peru so that they can resolve them peacefully.

He studied at the CSOP in June because he wants to expand his knowledge of conflict resolution.

“If you feel like being a cook, you need to have a lot of recipes,” Caceres says, adding that the CSOP instructors he learned from have given him a variety of different recipes for, or ways to approach, resolving conflicts.

“I’m putting everything in my bag and I believe I’ll use the knowledge and experiences and relationships [I made at the CSOP] so that I can do my job … in the best way.”


General News News Releases

Renowned Instructors Join in CSOP 2013

December 4, 2012 – Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP), an annual summer peace and justice program of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), in 2013 welcomes seven renowned instructors over two weeks, each to teach a week-long intensive course that will engage participants in issues related to peace, justice,   and conflict resolution.

“I continue to be amazed by the quality of our students, who arrive ready to listen and to learn from one another,” says CSOP Co-Director Valerie Smith, noting that the peace-justice summer school is now in its  fifth year of operation. “We draw students from around the world, coming from diverse backgrounds. They    are incredible people.  They arrive ready to engage with one another  and it is amazing to see the depth of their conversations by the end of a week together. CSOP’s first session, June 17-21, features three courses: “Healing the Wounds: Peacebuilding through Transformative Theatre,” led by Armand Volkas; “Human Rights and Indigenous Legal Traditions,” by Val Napoleon; and “Collaborative & Culturally Responsive Partnerships,” by Wendy Kroeker.

Courses in the second session, June 24-28, are: “Train the Trainer: Working for Conflict Transformation,” led by Karen Ridd; “Reconciliation & Forgiveness: Exploring Biblical & Contemporary Understandings,” by Ched Myers and Elaine Enns; and “Finding Your Voice: Understanding Nonviolent Action for Today’s Complex World,” by Mubarak Awad.

The Canadian School of Peacebuilding aims to educate on peace and justice issues and encourage discussion in a collaborative environment. The goal is for participants to leave these sessions with a new understanding of emerging ideas in peace studies, encouraged to take these practices into their daily living.  In addition to the CSOP summer program, courses are available year-round at CMU’s Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses.

Through its Menno Simons College campus at The University of Winnipeg and its south Winnipeg Shaftesbury campus, CMU offers one of the most comprehensive undergraduate programs in peace and conflict studies in the world.  Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, CMU has over 1600 students in its programs. CMU is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.


Canadian School of Peacebuilding Instructors, June 2013

Mubarak Awad is the founder of the National Youth Advocate Program in different locations in United States, which provides alternativefoster care and counseling to “at risk” youth and their families. He is also the Founder of the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem, Palestine, and was deported by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1988after being jailed for organizing activities involving nonviolent civil disobedience. Mubarak has since formed Nonviolence International, which promotes peace education and nonviolent action in dealing with political and social issues and works with various movements and organizations across theglobe. He has also been an adjunct professor at the American University in Washington, DC since 1989 at the School of International Studies, focusing on promoting dialogue and transforming post-conflict societies and teaching graduate courses on Methods and Theory of Nonviolence. Mubarak was born in Jerusalem, Palestine and currently resides in Gaithersburg MD, USA.

Elaine Enns has been working in the field of restorative justice and conflict transformation since 1989 as a victim-offender dialogue facilitator, consultant, educator and trainer. She provides mediation and consultation services for individuals, churches, schools, community organizations, and businesses, and travels throughout North America teaching and training. Enns teaches part time at the Peace and Justice Academy of Pasadena, CA and is a co-founder of the Word and World School for faith based activists. Born and raised in Saskatoon, SK, she currently lives in Oak View, California, where she serves as the Program Director for the Restorative Justice Program with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (BCM). She holds an MA in Theology and Peacemaking from the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary in Fresno. From 1995 to 1999, Elaine served as faculty at the Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies, Fresno Pacific University, Fresno.  Her most recent publication is Ambassadors of Reconciliation: A New Testament Theology and Diverse Christian Practices of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking with Ched Myers (Orbis Books, 2009).

Wendy Kroeker is currently employed at Canadian Mennonite University in the Peace and Conflict Transformation Studies department and is a doctoral student at the University of Manitoba in Peace and Conflict studies.  She came to CMU from the field of international development as the Latin America Program Manager for Canadian Lutheran World Relief. As well, Wendy brings long-term experience as a  workplace/community mediator in North America and facilitator at international peacebuilding schools such as the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute and the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute.  Wendy holds an M.A. in Theology from MBBS (Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary) , a certificate in mediation from Mediation Services and course work in the area of Religion and Conflict at the EMU (Eastern Mennonite University) Summer Peacebuilding Institute.  Wendy has facilitated trainings with community organizations in the Philippines, Burma/Myanmar, Indonesia, Cambodia, Bangladesh, India and other locations in Asia.  In 2011, Wendy served as Co-Director of the Canadian School of Peacebuilding.

Ched Myers is an activist theologian who has worked in social change movements for 35 years. With a degree in New Testament Studies, he is a popular educator who animates scripture and issues of faith-based peace and justice. He has authored over 100 articles and more than a half-dozen books, including Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus (Orbis, 1988/2008); The Biblical Vision of Sabbath Economics (Tell the Word,2001), Ambassadors of Reconciliation: A New Testament Theology and Diverse Christian Practices of Restorative Justice and Peacemaking (with Elaine Enns, Orbis, 2009), and most recently, Our God is Undocumented: Biblical Faith and Immigrant Justice (Orbis, 2012). Most of Myer’s works can be found at Myers is a co-founder of the Word and World School (, the Sabbath Economics Collaborative (, and the Center and Library for the Bible and Social Justice ( He and his partner Elaine Enns, a restorative justice practitioner, live in the Ventura River watershed in southern California and work with Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (

Val Napoleon was appointed Law Foundation Professor of Aboriginal Justice and Governance at the Faculty of Law, University of Victoria, in January 2012. She is from northeast British Columbia (Treaty 8) and is a member of Saulteau First Nation. She is also an adopted member of the Gitanyow (Gitksan) House of Luuxhon, Ganada (Frog) Clan. Prior to joining the Faculty of Law at UVIC, she was an associate professor, cross- appointed with the faculties of native studies and law at the University of Alberta. Napoleon worked as a community activist and consultant in northwestern BC for over 25 years, specializing in health, education, and justice issues. She has also worked with a number of regional, provincial, national, and international projects relating to indigenous legal traditions, conflict management, education, and citizenship. Her dissertation on Gitksan law and legal theory was awarded the UVIC Governor General’s Gold Medal for best dissertation in 2009.

Her current research focuses on indigenous legal traditions, indigenous legal theory, indigenous feminism, citizenship, self-determination, and governance. Two major initiatives include the JID (joint JD and indigenous law degree) program and establishing an indigenous law clinic.

For fifteen years, Karen Ridd has been effectively using alternative teaching methodology while teaching in the Conflict Resolution and International Development Studies programs at Menno Simons College of the Canadian Mennonite University. Ridd is also a mediator, teacher, and speaker with over 20 years’ experience. Her work with Peace Brigades International was recognized with the 1992 Governor-General’s 125th Anniversary Medal, the 1990 Canada YM/YWCA Peace Medal, and the 1989 Manitoba Human Rights Achievement Award. Ridd excels in alternative pedagogy, and has worked in a wide variety of settings, including Latin America, South East Asia, and First Nations Territories.

Armand Volkas is a psychotherapist, drama therapist, and theatre director. He is clinical director of the Living Arts Counseling Center in Oakland, California. He is also associate professor in the Counseling Psychology Program at California Institute of Integral Studies and adjunct professor at John F. Kennedy University and Institute for Transpersonal Studies.

Volkas, the son of Auschwitz survivors and resistance fighters from World War II, created Healing the Wounds of History, a therapeutic approach in whichtheatre techniques are used to work with groups of participants from two cultures with a common legacy of violent conflict and historical trauma. He was moved by his personal struggle to address the issues that arose from his own legacy, including victimization and perpetration, identity, meaning and grief. Healing the Wounds of History has received international recognition for its work in bringing together groups in conflict: Descendants of Holocaust survivors and The Third Reich; Palestinians and Israelis; Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans on their legacy of WWII; Armenians and Turks on the legacy of genocide; African-Americans and European-Americans on the legacy of slavery; Tamil and Singhalese in the aftermath of the Sri Lankan Civil War and between the factions involved in the Lebanese Civil War. Volkas is also Artistic Director of The Living Arts Playback Theatre Ensemble, which is in now in its 23rd year of existence. At the heart of Armand’s work is a profound respect for the power of personal story to build bridges between people and cultures.

Volkas has an MFA in Theatre/Acting from the University of California, Los Angeles, and an MA in Clinical Psychology/Drama Therapy from Antioch University. He is a registered drama therapist and a board certified trainer with the National Association for Drama Therapy.



General News News Releases

59 Cents Campaign Grows from CSOP

June 30, 2012 – A week ago, a small group of students from Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) and CMU’s Menno Simons College launched a campaign to challenge the federal government’s decision to begin denying supplemental healthcare coverage to refugees on June 30, 2012.

The 59 Cents Campaign for Refugee Healthcare is a politically independent, student-led movement that grew out of a small group assignment in a one week course – “Speaking Out… and Being Heard – Citizen Advocacy” – at CMU’s Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP). Group members Matthew Dueck, Maureen Gathogo (CMU’s Menno Simons College), and Deanna Zantingh were later joined by fellow CMU students Cecilly Hildebrand and Rianna Isaak to help spread the word about the campaign.

“We believe that the recent changes to the Canadian Interim Federal Healthcare Program (IFHP), which supplied refugees with the medical help, are unacceptable,” says project spokesperson Matthew Dueck. “We would like to see this changed, and refugees given the opportunity to receive the healthcare they need.”

“Our assignment was to create an advocacy campaign that could, in theory, be implemented in real life,” says Dueck. “But by the time we were making our class presentation at the end of the week, we realized that there was nothing stopping this from moving beyond the theoretical – and after everything we’d learned about the situation, we were passionate about helping to create change.”

In 2011 alone, Canada opened its doors to 25,000 refugees, offering an opportunity for healing and hope. Many refugees entering the country are leaving traumatic situations, coming to a place where they are operating without support networks or sometimes even a working knowledge of Canada’s official languages.

“Until now, refugees have been entitled to full medical assistance under the Interim Federal Healthcare Program – a $20-million per year program the federal government has cancelled, effective June 30, 2012,” says Dueck.

“$20-million spread across our country’s population works out to only 59 cents per person,” says Dueck. “It makes practical and moral sense to continue this relatively small program that ensures these vulnerable new residents receive help before their treatable illnesses become serious long-term health issues. We recognize that many refugees are unable to speak up on this issue. We’re encouraging all Canadians to lend their voices by sending 59 cents to the Prime Minister, showing our willingness as a country to give our part toward a small but vital program – and hopefully pressure the federal government to reverse this decision.”

“We launched the 59 Cents Campaign on Friday, June 18. And we’ve been overwhelmed by the response so far,” Dueck continues. “People from across the country – including a law professor in Victoria and doctors from all over Canada, as well as regular citizens of all ages – have been encouraging us and getting involved. It really proves the power of a simple idea.”

Dueck credits CMU and the CSOP for helping promote peace and justice. “The CSOP is so diverse,” he says. “It’s really the strength of the program that it brings together people from all walks of life, and from all over the world, to share their experiences and ideas. You realize quickly that the little things we do here can make a big impact all around the world.”

“We are very excited about this campaign,” says Valerie Smith, Co-director of the Canadian School of Peacebuilding at CMU. “We want this to be a place that can bridge thinking with doing, to bring in leaders in peacebuilding from around the world to support those already working in the field and inspire students to get involved. These students are relatively new to peacebuilding, but their time at CMU has really steeped them in ideas of peace and justice – values we promote throughout every course we offer and our community as a whole. We hope that the CSOP will continue to provide this type of experience and inspiration for all those who attend, so they can take what they’ve learned back to their communities and use it to make a real difference.”

The 59 Cents Campaign will continue after the June 30, 2012 deadline, in an effort to have the decision reversed, says Dueck.

Through its Shaftesbury and Menno Simons College campuses, CMU offers one of the world’s largest undergraduate programs in peace and conflict studies.

The Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP), an institute of Canadian Mennonite University, is a learning community of diverse peacebuilders from around the world who come together to learn, network, and engage in peacebuilding. Now in its fourth year, CSOP offers a selection of five-day courses that can be taken for professional or personal development or for academic credit. Visit

A Christian university rooted in the Anabaptist tradition, CMU offers undergraduate degrees in arts and science, business, humanities, music, and social sciences, as well as two graduate degree programs. CMU has over 1,700 students at its Shaftesbury Campus, at Menno Simons College in downtown Winnipeg, and enrolled through its Outtatown discipleship program. CMU is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

For more information on the 59 Cent Campaign:
For interviews, contact project spokesperson Matthew Dueck at 204-371-9826
View the Campaign’s video on YouTube:

Photo of 59 Cent Campaign group, from left:
Maureen Gathogo, Rianna Isaak,
Cecilly Hildebrand, and Matthew Dueck.
(Missing from photo: Deanna Zantingh)

Events General News News Releases

CSOP Special Event with Piet Meiring, Cara Luft

March 30, 2011 – Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP), an Institute of Canadian Mennonite University (CMU), warmly welcomed Piet Meiring back to its campus for three days in March. Meiring presented  a workshop , participated in a special “Evening of Story and Song,” also featuring musician Cara Luft, and shared personal reflections of his faith journey, in conversation and a chapel presentation, during his visit.  

 “We are blessed to have Piet Meiring to share with us,” said CSOP Co-director Val Smith, introducing Meiring during his March 14 to 16 visit. “Piet has taught, spoken, and advised on reconciliation, restorative justice, and truth in settings worldwide – in Israel, Palestine, Rwanda, Ireland, Fiji, and Canada.  He is a wise and humble person who seems equally at home speaking a prophetic word to government leaders…and telling stories of African elephants to my kids.”

 For three decades, Meiring was involved with the church’s struggle against apartheid in South Africa, and he had to challenge his own denomination on this issue.  He served with Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the South Africa Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).  Meiring is an emeritus professor at the University of Pretoria and an ordained minister in the Dutch Reformed Church.

 “He has lived a life guided by his faith in Christ, a life that is a model of faithful living in difficult circumstances, a life through which God’s face has been allowed to shine,” said Smith.

 Participants in the March 14 day-long workshop had an opportunity to engage with Meiring during his session, titled, “The Perennial Quest for Truth and Reconciliation: Learning from one another’s experiences.”   

 The “Evening of Song and Story” on March 15 featured a time of sharing with Meiring, and performances by renowned singer, songwriter, and guitarist Cara Luft, who shared her music with an appreciative crowd. 

 An artist steeped in folk and traditional roots music, Luft enjoys stretching the boundaries, unafraid to bend genres and styles.  Luft is a former founding member of Juno award-winning folk music trio The Wailin’ Jennys.  Her sense of honesty, integrity, personality, and spontaneity permeate and resonate in her music and her live performances.

At the March 16 Chapel service, Meiring shared reflections on God’s “windows of faith, hope, and love” that sustained him during the apartheid period and throughout his TRC work.  He describes his time serving on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as “this painful, wonderful, agonizing journey through South Africa, (to) make sense of the past, and find our way into the future.”

 “The Lord opened my eyes in many, many ways – and made me look through his windows at the reality,” says Meiring.

 “The future of the world, of reconciliation,” says Meiring, “…does not depend in the first instance on better structures, important though they are.  It is dependent on people’s hearts, on personal relationships between people.  I came to realize that time and time again in South Africa.  It was love that reined:  the willingness to forgive. People astounded one another.  It was a painful but exhilarating experience.

 “…Stand at the window of love,” Meiring says, “and you are astounded at what God has done for us.  But you are also from time to time astounded if you see how people are translating their profession of love into action. And when that happens, you will know that swords are beaten into ploughshares and that spears are turned into pruning hooks… My prayer for you in Winnipeg is that Winnipeg will stand out as a place where a monument is erected for faith and hope and love for the world to see.”

 Canadian Mennonite University, through Menno Simons College (CMU’s campus at The University of Winnipeg) and through its south Winnipeg Shaftesbury campus, offers one of the most comprehensive undergraduate program in peace and conflict studies in the world. CMU has over 1,700 students at its Shaftesbury Campus, at Menno Simons College in downtown Winnipeg, and enrolled through its Outtatown discipleship program. CMU is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

Audio Sunday@CMU Radio

Stuart Clark – CSOP Instructor, Citizen Advocacy

Stuart Clark
Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian Foodgrains Bank
Instructor, Canadian School of Peacebuilding

Interview Date: January 29, 2012
In this interview, David Balzer – host of Sunday@CMU radio, speaks with Stuart Clark about “Speaking Out… And Being Heard — Citizen Advocacy,” a course he and co-instructor Sophia Murphy will be facilitating at the Canadian School of Peacebuilding (CSOP) summer 2012.

Play/Download Here

The Canadian School of Peacebuilding is a program of CMU. For more information, visit