Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 31, 2002
A peaceful march for peace
15,000 marched in passionate protest against Iraqi war
By RENATO GANDIA
WCR Staff Writer
As coalition forces dropped bombs in Iraq, 15,000 Edmontonians, joined 10 million people in 2,000 cities all over the world on March 22 and called, sang and prayed for peace.
They marched like civilian soldiers of peace as they trekked the 14 some blocks from Winston Churchill Square to the Alberta Legislature.
The 'troops' came from all religions, races and ages, but chanted one global message - peace.
"I want peace and I think peace is the right answer, not war," said Muhammad Ross, a seven-year old boy, whose Iraqi mother married an Edmontonian.
The noisy demonstration, believed to be the biggest crowd to gather at the legislature, remained peaceful unlike those in larger centers such as Montreal, New York and San Francisco where the police arrested protestors.
People of different ages and background shouted slogans, waved flags, sang songs of peace as they headed west along Jasper Avenue turning on 107 St. towards the legislature.
"What do we want? Peace! When do we want it? Now," shouted the protestors.
The activists were a diverse lot - folk singers, the Raging Grannies, teachers, lawyers, placard-waving toddlers, high school and college students. As well as the expected marchers from religious groups, unions, New Democrats, aboriginal organizations and the Muslim community. Cars honked, onlookers waved, some flashing the peace sign.
Edmonton's Development and Peace and other Catholics joined in the demonstration.
Said Marian Lord, a Catholic, "We want our mayor and the premier to know that waging war to make peace is an oxymoron. It's crazy.
"The power of the people can do anything if enough people get together to say, 'No!' They will eventually yield to what people are saying."
St. Joseph's College professor, Father Stephen Penna added, "Any action of solidarity with people who are suffering violence is an essential thing. It's one of the essences of being a Christian."
This former chaplain of the Iraqi community in Saskatoon hoped there would be more priests in the protests.
"God became one with humanity so we follow where our saviour has gone before and we associate ourselves with those who suffer, cry and pray for peace," said the priest.
Penna was impressed to see people from different cultural and religious backgrounds "get together in one voice praising God by saying no to war."
"Too bad there is an edge of anger in some people, because anger can lead to violence." But he also believes anger as a passion can be diverted to expressing solid actions leading to peace.
Rosemary Caldwell, who attends St. Joseph's Basilica, came to the march because her six-year-old daughter Sarah kept on telling her, "We should tell Bush to stop the war. This is the only way that we can do that. They may not listen to us, but I can tell my daughter that we did what we had to do."
One of the organizers, Lisa Jentsen-Hengstler told the WCR, "We're thrilled (with the turnout). It's fantastic to see that there are many more who are against this war than those who support it."
Jentsen-Hengstler is convinced the value of this demonstration "is to bring people together, so that they can express their outrage together, organize and voice their protest."
The message Jentsen-Hengstler said they sent to local leaders is, "You don't speak for us. When some people say that many, many Albertans support George Bush, we say, some Albertans support George Bush. We don't and we have 15,000 people who said that."