YMCA Peace Week: November 19 to 25, 2023
YMCA Peace Week is a time when we celebrate the presence of peace in our communities, and reflect on the peace-building work that happens all year both inside and outside the YMCA.
Peace is the ongoing work of building and rebuilding conditions of fairness, inclusion, empathy, security, and respect for diversity. When Canadians embody the values of PEACE (Participation, Empathy, Advocacy, Community, Empowerment) through our daily actions, we can build a better Canada.
YMCA Peace Week calls for people to Build Community, Act for Peace.
When we act for peace, together we build stronger and healthier communities.
"We cannot expect to live in a world of peace if we are unable to live in peace with those close to us - even those who differ from us..."
- YMCA Statement of Peace
YMCA of Southwestern Ontario Peace Medals
Each year, the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario honours local Peacemakers across the region with a YMCA Peace Medal.
YMCA Peace Medals are presented to individuals or groups who, without any special resources, status, wealth or position, demonstrate a commitment to the values of PEACE through contributions made within their local, national, or global community.
Since 1987, more than 1,900 individuals and groups across Canada have been recognized for their peacebuilding work with YMCA Peace Medals. When we award YMCA Peace Medals, we celebrate others' contributions to peace.
Recipients will receive a YMCA Peace Medal and have a chance to tell their story and bring awareness to their work or cause in individual profiles that will be shared online.
2023 YMCA Peace Medal Recipients
Sarah Coleman – Counting on Change
Sarah Coleman, the founder of Counting on Change, began her mission after her family faced food insecurity due to her husband's job loss. She responded by developing innovative strategies to significantly reduce her family's food costs, launching the Facebook Group "Counting on Change" in 2009 to bring awareness and share insight, deals, and tips with other families, helping them save thousands annually. Beyond “Counting on Change,” Sarah is the founder of Project Santa, established in 2015, matching local families in need with Christmas dinners, breakfast items, and gifts. Over the years, she has assisted over 275 families, including 43 in 2022. Outside of her online presence, Sarah engages with provincial parliament members, advocating for policies to address food insecurity.
Celine Payne- Huntington Disease, Sarnia Chapter
Celine Payne is a wonderful example of someone who lives the values of PEACE. She is a Lambton County native who has experienced what it is like to have Huntington's Disease in her family. She has worked tirelessly to provide for families in her local community as well as the province. Here is Celine's story in her own words:
“My story with HD begins with my heart and soul, my purpose and reason I am who I am today, my dear mother who unfortunately lost her battle with HD two years ago at the young age of 48. I was 16 when I became more aware of how terrible this disease is. I didn’t know anyone in my community (outside of my own family) who even knew what HD was. I eventually sought out some support through HSC and their family services team. I started within the mentorship program and had a mentor who eventually led me to my first YPAHD (Young People Affected by HD) day in 2017. This is where I met so many amazing people and what truly opened a whole new world for me that I would have never had if it weren’t for the HSC and these programs.”
Celine has shared her story and supported numerous families and youth affected by Huntington's Disease. She continues to work as a mentor as the Vice President of YPAHD and the President of the newly created Sarnia Chapter. She is a young woman who personifies what it means to turn a negative into a positive. Her mission is to make sure anyone in the community struggling with Huntington's Disease, whether you have it, know someone who has it, is the child of a parent who has it, or a spouse of someone who has it, has support. She also holds fundraising events to spread awareness in our community. “We really are stronger together, and that is the priority for me and my chapter executives.”
2022 YMCA Peace Medal Recipients
Alex Leonard (London)
Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (across the Southwest region of Ontario)
2021 YMCA Peace Medal Recipients
Nolan Petch (Woodstock)
Brian Schoonjans of Miracle Max's Minions (Lambton County)
Kevin Allen of Sarnia Blessings (Sarnia)
Myles Vanni (Sarnia)
Ginny Trepanier of Grace Café (St. Thomas)
The Inn of Windsor (Windsor)
2020 YMCA Peace Medal Recipients
Camilla McGill (Sarnia)
Community Meal (Ingersoll)
Ella Bice (Parkhill)
Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex
Lindsay Kirkland (Sarnia)
Nicole MacKechnie of Sweet Love Eats (Goderich)
Patrick Armstrong (Goderich)
The London Shoebox Project
Windsor Residence for Young Men