Courtenay has resident protesters. Every Saturday from noon until one, you can see the Comox Valley Peace Group at their spot on the corner of England and 6th.
“This is not a protest. This is a peace rally”, musician/artist Patrick Desjardins said. On any day, six to ten members can be seen spreading the age old message of world peace.
In August, they will have been coming to the corner for five years, spreading awareness about multiple world issues; mostly conflicts in parts of the world such as Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Haiti, and more recently, Libya. Their message is simple enough: “No people killing people”, former lawyer Carla Meal explains.
“It doesn’t mean no conflict. It’s a different way of conflict resolution,” Meal further stated. Another member, retiree Ernie Yacub adds that he would like to see peace come through a system much like the Indigenous peoples had. “[They] had a good way of dealing with conflict, talk until you’re done!”
Contributing hundreds of hours on spreading these ideals takes a certain level of dedication from a person. Each member has a certain reason as to why they have joined the group. For Desjardins, it’s a way to get over his shyness. Ross Hunt, a taxi driver and organic farmer felt his contempt for the government from a young age, while Yacub insists that ever since he was a child he learned to “not harm” anyone.
Besides spreading their message, the members have also developed a strong sense of comradery among themselves. “If peace breaks out, I’ll lose my social life, but I’m willing to trade,” Meal laughed.
Putting yourself out there in any fashion also ensures some kind of criticism. “Bomb the shit out of Gadhaffi” one man yelled from his car, before quickly driving off. But the members confirm that they get ten times the support than heckling. Most attacks are drive by comments, or a few flipped birds.
Despite any negativity, these individuals will continue to come together for a common hope shared among them, which will hopefully spread to people they talk too. “[This] gives people the oppurtunity to ask questions of themselves. It’s not claiming sides.” Desjardins reiterated.
“We’re not stupid; we realize this is a dream.” Meal further added. A dream or not, they feel someone has to spread it.