Peace Brigades International training on Stó:lō territory in British Columbia in 1992

Published by Brent Patterson on

The April 1992 Peace Brigades International-Canada Newsletter notes that 19 people gathered for a “North America training” from March 26 to April 24, 1992, near the town of Hope in the Sunshine Valley on Stó:lō territory in British Columbia.

Alaine Hawkins of the PBI-North America Project wrote, “The training was organized to prepare people in Western Canada to do PBI-type observing within the North American context, particularly applied to Native peoples’ struggle for justice.”

“The training focused on roleplays based on scenarios of situations in which observers have been or might be useful.”

“The direct comments of Elizabeth Little Elk, a member of the National Coordinating Committee of PBI-USA and a member of the Lakota Sioux Nation helped other participants understand more clearly the experience of Native people with regard to the issues [of] racism and oppression.”

“Trevor Chandler provided us with an overview of the history of relations between Natives and non-Natives in BC, and Elizabeth shared the experience of her people.”

“A special gift was the presence of Tate, Elizabeth ‘s 5-year-old daughter, who joined our games, our art experiments and our songs, and at times added her wisdom to our circle of sharing. She helped us to be aware that the reason we do all this is to work towards a future free of racism and other forms of oppression.”

The Toronto-based Peace Brigades International-North America Project (PBI-NAP) operated between April 1992 and December 1999.

PBI began exploring the possibility of a North America Project in September 1990 after the 78-day July-September 1990 Oka Crisis in Quebec that saw a confrontation between the Canadian army and Mohawk land defenders who opposed the expansion of a golf course onto Indigenous burial grounds.

PBI-NAP’s “principles and mandate” statement highlighted, “The North America Project is concerned about and committed to working against racism and structural violence. We recognize that the problems faced by many Indigenous communities are outcomes of structures that do not represent their culture or tradition, and whose imposition is experienced as violence – an ongoing experience of conquest.”

You can read more about the PBI-North America Project in this PBI-USA Spring 2016 News Bulletin article titled Steve Molnar reflects on the early days of PBI-USA and the North American Project (on page 14).

Top photo: PBI-North America Project trainer Karen Ridd with group on Stó:lō territory near Hope, British Columbia.

Bottom photo: “I helped to start the North American Project together with Alaine Hawkins from Canada, and other returned volunteers from the Guatemala Project.” – Steve Molnar (in purple t-shirt) in an excerpt from the PBI-USA News Bulletin.

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