Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 7, 1999
Interfaith peace prayer service draws tiny crowd
By ANH HOANG
WCR Staff Writer
They were a small crowd of less than two dozen criticizing the Canadian involvement in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.
But the turnout is still a success in the eyes of the organizer of the Witness For Peace interfaith prayer service.
"I was hoping there'd be a lot more," said Liz Garrison, who organized the event at McDougall United Church May 30.
"But I think it's great to have any number of people come out. I think it shows that we're all committed to pressuring our leaders for a change . . . and praying together to end this."
The event might have been overshadowed by a pro-Serb rally in Hawrelak Park on the same day.
"I'm a little disappointed in the turnout," said Mel Huizinga of Edmonton's Witness for Peace Committee who hosted the event. "I guess a sunny day in June, which we haven't had much of around here is tough competition for us."
The event was a gathering of representatives from several religious congregations in a show of opposition for a "peacekeeping war that's already cost Canadians over $200 million and heading towards $500 million," said Dave Hubert, a Mennonite peace activist.
"The 20th century is the most violent century of our times. We despise (President Slobodan) Milosevic so we commit atrocities which match or exceed his own."
The NATO bombing has been touted as a way to stop Serb millitary, police and paramilitary groups from killing and driving ethinic Albanians from their homes in Kosovo.
Other faith representatives included those from the Muslim and Jewish communities, who all encouraged prayer and petitioning political leaders for peace.
"By faith we are told to love our enemies," Liz Garrison said. "Violence hasn't put an end to anything."
Dave Barrett "walked in from the street" to attend the event. Connected with no religious group, his reasons for opposing the NATO strikes was one of "common sense."
"We are taught from childhood not to fight back, to look at non-violent ways to solve problems," Barrett said. "But our government's first response is to kill even more people. That makes no sense."