On January 18, Antennes de paix celebrated its 15th anniversary, which was attended by some forty people who gathered in Saint-Paul-de-la-Croix parish hall in Ahuntsic. Over those 15 years, so many great things have been accomplished! Conflict prevention activities, strengthening of the social fabric, the fostering of social harmony, as well as the germination and cultivation of vocations in peacemaking. Without exaggeration, Montreal today is a better place to live thanks to Antennes de paix. How appropriate, then, to give praise to the Creator of Peace and to offer our thanks to the people who throughout the past fifteen years have laboured to accomplish these works for peace!

Through artwork, song and poetry, music and dance, the story of the organization was told as its values were celebrated. The Antennes de paix brings together people who share a sense of solidarity as well as a sensitivity to social and environmental challenges, who strive to build our human cohabitation on the values of mutual respect, tolerance, justice and peace among peoples. 

It was in 2007, during the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, that the organization first saw light. Its citizen activities focus on dialogue and reconciliation, concrete outcomes requiring patient craftsmanship and carried out in association with those of Pax Christi International. Antennes de paix places equal emphasis on the development of communication skills and on the analysis of the international context in discerning what actions to put in practice.

Following in the social action tradition of the Institut Notre-Dame du Bon-Conseil, Antennes de paix has not been content to act merely on its own: it has contributed to numerous joint projects, including working with the Collectif du 21 septembre, in the organization of the annual celebration of World Peace Day. It also took part in coordinating the 2009 Côte-des-Neiges peace festival and rallies for humanitarian crises afflicting Haiti and Afghanistan. It led the way in organizing Peace Weeks for the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Colombia, advocating for freedom of speech and coordinating supporting activities. Representatives from many organisms attended the celebration, including Initiatives of Change, Artistes pour la Paix (artists for peace) and the diocesan Office for Social Action.

In anticipation of the 60th anniversary of Pope John XXIII's encyclical Pacem in Terris, Antennes de paix invited Gregory Baum to present a "re-reading through the lens of contemporary Quebec," published by Novalis. In his New Year's address to the diplomatic corps earlier this month, Pope Francis alluded to the 60th anniversary of the publication of Pacem in Terris, speaking of its relevance to our times.

Moving from the written to the digital, Antennes de paix embarked on a new direction in 2013 by launching the Public Peace Prize in partnership with Voix et couleurs nouveaux médias inc. Teams were mobilized from the four corners of the globe, raising awareness of challenging issues and proposing peaceful initiatives to address them. So many peacemakers work in obscurity and are prone to the impression that they are all alone! Antennes de paix has helped to bring these individuals and these groups into the light, making their activities visible and offering encouragement and the supprt of lasting partnerships.  

Antennae are made for receiving information, but they can also transmit it. And as artistic expression has always been one of the organization’s focuses, this 15th anniversary party remained true to form. At all of 18, Wesley Djayerombe-Dialango gave a beautiful interpretation of the song "Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin" (“Just a little higher, just a little further”). Three other artists for peace delivered a stirring message: André Jacob engaged the audience with his stories and poems illustrated with his own paintings; Hugo Larenas provided accompaniment on the guitar and regaled those assembled with a program of instrumental pieces; and, last but not least, Isabela Marengo evoked a cry for peace in her dance piece, a cry initiated by André Jacob and then taken up by the crowd: "We are peace." To conclude the evening, a chorale made up mainly of women interpreted the song by Raymond Lévesque, “Quand les hommes vivront d'amour. (“The day when people live for love”).

Now of an age at which young girls become women, what is to become of Antennes de paix? Well, the organization has decided to go quietly as it heads off to the land of memories, bringing to a close its life as a non-profit organization. The factors behind the decision are several: lack of access to funds, the inability to obtain charitable organization status, the attrition rate in memberships, the existence of other organizations with similar missions. The Facebook page and the website will remain active for a while still, before it finally departs for the land of yesterday. 

So the antennae will be scattered... but can those like Joseph Vumiliya, Lorette Langlais, Lona Ranjarivelo, Ferdinand Djayerombe Vaweka, Gloria Villamil, François Godbout, Richard Renshaw, Aswad Mansour and Gisèle Turcot fall silent? Or will they find some new way to go "un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin?"


Louise Royer