Remembering Alaine Hawkins
Alaine Lisham Hawkins played a crucial role in the early formative years of the global human rights organization Peace Brigades International.
In terms of her childhood, Alaine was born in England in 1935 and moved with her parents to Pickering, Ontario, Canada in 1937.
After completing university, she took a teaching job in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario before moving to the United States and then back to Uxbridge, Ontario in 1965. Uxbridge is not far from Toronto, which is where she and her husband John began attending the Toronto Monthly Meeting of Friends on Lowther Avenue.
In 1975, Alaine, John and their three daughters moved to British Columbia so that Alaine could teach at Argenta Friends School.
In 1982, the family moved back to Toronto. During this time, while she was also assisting refugees from Central America, she encountered Peace Brigades International.
Notably, Alaine was a founder and active member of Peace Brigades International-Canada, the first PBI country group (incorporated in January 1984).
From 1986 to 1991, Alaine was the Toronto-based coordinator of PBI’s Central American Project. Joan Edenburg comments in the book Making Space for Peace, “During these tense and difficult years in Central America, Alaine made a major contribution in establishing PBI as a respected organisation in the region.”
In 1988, she explained to Toronto’s NOW Magazine our work: “Peace Brigades supports the political space in which people work for social change in a non-violent way. Our people are a physical presence. If anything happens to the people they are escorting, we are able to get the word out immediately.”
Alaine was also crucial in the formation of PBI’s Sri Lanka Project in 1989 (which was based in Halifax, England) and the North America Project in 1992 (based in Toronto).
The Canadian Friends Historical Association notes, “Social justice circles in Canada were well aware of Alaine’s work, and through her, Peace Brigades International became known. In recognition of her work for peace in Central America, North America, and world-wide, she was awarded a Governor-General’s Medal.”
Alaine died of cancer on April 3, 1997 at 62 years of age after a two-year battle with cancer. Edenburg notes, “About 200 people attended a memorial meeting in Toronto to celebrate Alaine’s life, and to grieve her passing.”
Alaine’s commitment to peace and her dedication to Peace Brigades International continue to remembered and celebrated.
December 1988 – Alaine Hawkins, Lyn Adamson and Jennifer Dennison in the PBI Central America Project Office at 345 Adelaide Street West, Suite 606 in Toronto, Ontario.