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Selkirk College Offers Skill Building in Non-Violence and Peacekeeping

A pair of great opportunities for learners across the region to build their knowledge and skills at the Castlegar Campus this spring with a six-day Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping course and three-day workshop on supporting ex-prisoners as they reintegrate into the community.

Developing innovative strategies to protect human rights and promote peaceful conflict transformation is the focus of an upcoming six-day program at Selkirk College.

Between May 21 and 26, the Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College is offering the Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping (UCP) coursewhich provides those taking part an opportunity to explore and develop skills to build relationships that can support conflict resolution and protect human rights defenders both in Canada and abroad.

“Selkirk College has been a leader in Canada when it comes to offering this type of training and education in Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping,” says Jennie Barron, Chair of the Mir Centre for Peace. “This is a program that resonates with so many in our region and we are pleased to be offering this vital training again, thanks to the very hard work of Randy Janzen, who has dedicated a great deal of time to researching and advancing UCP over the past few years.”

An added bonus this time is that course participants will be video-linked with students taking the course simultaneously in Burundi, Central Africa. That course is also being offered by the Mir Centre, but is only open to African students already in Burundi.

The course in Castlegar will be delivered by Madelyn MacKay, a Nelson resident who has an extensive background in peacemaking and social justice. MacKay is on the leading edge of the global expertise in nonviolent peacekeeping and has been invited to facilitate nonviolence workshops across Canada, in the United States and at the United Nations over the past 14 years. She founded the Women’s Peace Camps with Canadian Voice of Women for Peace.

Valuable Skills for a Variety of Different Settings

UCP professionals provide direct physical protection to other civilians and work collaboratively with local groups to strengthen or build resilient local peace infrastructures. Unlike traditional military peacekeeping or armed private security firms, it is accomplished without the use of or reliance on weapons. UCP is based on a different paradigm, one that emphasizes building of relationships and the skill of communication, rather than power or the threat of violence.

A key principle of UCP is non-partisanship. UCP staff work diligently to gain the trust and respect of all parties involved. Specific tactics include accompaniment, protective presence, interposition, early warning/early response, information gathering and dissemination, and creating safe spaces.

“We have learned that the skills of UCP appeal not only to those who can envision going abroad to volunteer as peacekeepers, but also anyone who is wanting to find ways to communicate better and keep the peace during conflicts here, including conflict around sites of protest, and conflict in the workplace,” says Barron.

Those who successfully complete the program will receive a certificate that can help in applying for volunteer and paid positions with organizations that specifically hire unarmed civilian peacekeeping personnel. The program is also helpful for those wanting to do humanitarian work. The course takes place on the Castlegar Campus and is delivered in English.

Prior to the UCP offering in late-May, the Mir Centre for Peace is also putting on a workshop that invites those taking part to discover a relational approach to transformation and re-integration of formerly incarcerated people upon their release from prison. From May 1 to 3, the Inside & Out Workshop will welcome Yves Côté to the Castlegar Campus for a closer look at trauma, incarceration and personal growth.

Côté spent 32 years in the Canadian prison system and eventually found a new way forward without violence and played a key role in inspiring other prisoners to explore a path of non-violence. Côté is now on full parole, married, employed, and a certified facilitator with the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP).

Find out more information on both the Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping course and the Inside & Out workshop. If you have any questions about either offering, please contact Jennie Barron at 1.888.953.1133 (x21461). To register, call 250-365-1208 or online.

Original article from Selkirk College