YMCA Peace Week: November 13 to 20, 2021

The YMCA believes peace is more than the absence of violence and conflict. 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 with a YMCA Peace Medal at several community events across the region. While we will be unable to host an in-person ceremony this year, we are still excited to recognize inspiring community members across our association! 

Nominations are open until September 29, 2021. Fill out this form to nominate a local peacemaker for this award!

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.

YMCA Peace Medal

2020 YMCA Peace Medal Recipients

Patrick Armstrong (Goderich)
Patrick Armstrong is a noted leader, visionary, mentor, and committed volunteer in Huron County. He is a founding member of the Dave Mounsey Memorial Fund which donates defibrillators to public buildings in memory of fallen first responders and is active in all areas of the project. In 2018, Patrick and another police officer co-founded the Huron and Area Search and Rescue organization that trains community members to provide civilian ground-based and marine search and rescue. Patrick designed the training, sourced donations and equipment, and facilitates meetings with an active base of over 70 volunteers. Through his volunteer contributions and his career as a dedicated "Peacemaker" with the Royal Canadian Navy and as an OPP officer, Patrick Armstrong works collaboratively with many groups to make our communities a better place to live.

Ella Bice (Parkhill)
At only 7 years old, Ella Bice is making a difference in children's lives and inspiring others to give back through her volunteering and fundraising efforts. Each year, Ella raises money for the Children's Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre and has consistently surpassed her considerable goal of $250. This year, she was able to organize socially distanced bottle drives, and with the assistance of family, friends, and social media raised $1800 for the Children's Hospital! Ella's contributions to this cause are helping children from birth through age 18 and her efforts have been contagious, inspiring her young family members to volunteer as well.

Community Meal (Ingersoll)
Community Meal is a collaborative effort between two Ingersoll community groups, "STICH" and "Lunch Bunch," who banded together during the pandemic to tackle the issue of food insecurity as a team. By combining resources and volunteers, the Community Meal group now delivers 250+ meals every week. It takes a lot of commitment, coordination, and teamwork (especially during a pandemic) to make this all happen. Each week, up to 50 volunteers cook and prepare the food, create menus and source ingredients, prepare takeout packages, and deliver the hot meals to doorsteps. Combined, two grassroots groups have proven they are "Strong Together" by continuing to provide comfort and support to those experiencing food insecurity during a pandemic.

Habitat for Humanity (Windsor-Essex)
Habitat for Humanity Windsor-Essex is a non-profit organization working to break the cycle of poverty by mobilizing volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership. In times of need, they also connect locally and shift services and resources. In April, the organization put a call out to all community members to come together and help sew face masks. They recognized that healthcare professionals were anticipating a shortage of PPE and responded to the need. Reaching out to local groups, including our YMCA Newcomer Services, allowed them to coordinate efforts and distribute masks where needed. They supplied groups with materials to sew masks for volunteers to collect and deliver. Whether it's organizing timely projects or leading builds to provide affordable housing, this organization strives to improve the lives of those in our communities.

Lindsay Kirkland (Sarnia)
Through advocacy for youth struggling with their mental health, often drawing from her personal experiences, Lindsay Kirkland is making a difference in the lives of those around her. As manager of "The Stigma Survivors" social media accounts, she works to destigmatize mental illness, therapy, treatment, and create a safe space for over 600 followers. In addition, Lindsay has acted as a speaker at a Youth Summit for young leaders, brings attention to social issues such as racism and ableism, and recently helped organize a student drive-by food drive for the Inn of the Good Shepherd in Sarnia. Through her work destigmatizing mental illness and sharing her stories, Lindsay's reach and impact are growing day by day and she is truly making a difference across Southwestern Ontario. 

Nicole MacKechnie (Goderich)
Nicole MacKechnie is the owner of "Sweet Love Eats" café and catering business serving Huron County, with a focus on supporting local businesses and farmers. Nicole's commitment to her community is endless through sports team sponsorships, charitable donations, involvement with events for the hospital foundation, respite network, YMCA Strong Kids, and many others. Nicole has organized soup fundraisers, donating 100% of sales to various causes and regularly feeds the homeless and provides them with clean clothes. Recent, Nicole was unable to work as her café is in a building that closed due to COVID-19. She resolved to use her social media presence for good, promoting other local businesses by sharing their promotions and giving great reviews. Nicole MacKechnie is 100% committed to building peace and prosperity in her community and uses her connections and platforms to help others.

Camilla McGill (Sarnia)
Camilla McGill has a long and well-known history in the Sarnia region for her volunteering efforts. She is a Rotarian with Sarnia-Bluewaterland and is committed to making both local and international communities a better place to learn and grow. One of her notable initiatives includes working closely with an optometry clinic in India that provides eye care to those who cannot afford these services. She has worked to improve literacy skills in Kenya through the "Rain of Hope Project" which aims to enhance the lives of children by providing education and uniforms to students who, at one time, only dreamed of attending school. Through supporting the needs of those less fortunate both locally and globally, Camilla demonstrates her dedication to creating healthier communities.

The Shoebox Project (London)
The Shoebox Project started with a group of sisters-in-law in 2001, who called on family and friends during the holiday season to fill a shoebox with gifts for mothers and women experiencing homelessness. By word of mouth and the power of social media, the project became a national movement with groups across Ontario. The London chapter brought joy to our communities over several years with the donation of countless boxes to female clients of YMCA Newcomer Services. The London Shoebox Project recognizes the unique challenges faced by women and girls and have made it their goal to ensure that those who are less fortunate feel special and deserving.

Windsor Residence for Young Men (Windsor)
For close to a decade, the Windsor Residence for Young men has been providing essential services to homeless and at-risk youth. Their services include providing shelter, liaising with numerous community partners, and teaching basic life skills to empower young men to reach their full potential. The selflessness displayed by staff to provide around the clock care and emotional support to some of the most vulnerable young people in Windsor is extraordinary. The organization has a 95% success rate with a major positive impact on family reunification and helping people find independent living and employment. The Windsor Residence for Young Men is helping youth find pride in themselves and confidence for their future. 


2020 Peace Week Activities

Join us for a week of daily challenges and activities to build peace in your life and community! Download the 2020 Peace Week Calendar.

Saturday, November 14 - Take 10 for Peace
Find a quiet spot, go for a walk, or talk with someone and reflect on what brings you peace.

Sunday, November 15 - Peace Week Pledge
Join us by taking a pledge for Peace and commit to #actforpeace this week. Share a photo or story of what peace means to you with #YMCAPeace Week. Download the Peace Week Pledge Sign.

YMCA Peace Pledge - Peace means to me:

Monday, November 16 - Pay It Forward
Perform a random act of kindness. Share an act of kindness that someone did for you.

Tuesday, November 17 - Encourage Kindness at Home
Make a Kindness Tree with your family. Every time someone performs a kind act, add a leaf to the tree and watch it grow! Download the Kindness Tree Activity Guide.

Kindness Tree Craft

Wednesday, November 18 - Yoga for Peace
Join us for a yoga session reflecting on peace led by Y staff Mellissa. Check out our Facebook pages at noon for the video link!

Thursday, November 19 - Reach Out and Connect
Never underestimate the power of a handwritten note! Write a letter, send a compliment card, or reach out to someone you haven't talked to in a while.

Friday, November 20 - Craft for Peace
Create something beautiful that symbolizes peace. Create these Peace Cranes and display them in a window for everyone to enjoy! Download the Peace Crane Activity Guide.

Folded Peace Cranes in red, blue, orange, green, and purple.

Saturday, November 21 - Make a Difference
Choose a cause you care about and take action to make a positive impact. Sign a petition, donate, volunteer, or support a local business! 

Peace Week Resources