Peace activist here Sept. 12

Loney held captive in Iraq

James Loney has been around the world pushing for peace; this month he’s bringing his message to Kincardine.
Loney is the headline speaker at Kincardine’s fourth annual World Peace Day. The well-respected event takes place Sept. 12. Organizers say Loney’s peacemaking career makes him an ideal choice for the festivities.

“He’s worked for peacemaking teams, that’s his role in life,” says Peace Day committee member Fran Gannett. “Everything he’s talking about, he has lived. That’s what we’re about.”

As a member of Christian Peacemaking Teams (CPT), Loney has spent time working with people in war-torn countries including Iraq, Israel and conflict zones in Canadian native communities. In 2005, Loney made world headlines when Iraqi insurgents kidnapped him and held him captive for 118 days.

Following his release, Loney stayed active with the CPT. He served as the group’s Canadian program director until November 2007, when he took a break to write a book.

“Peace is the foundation of all human rights. Without peace we have no rights,” Loney says. “Peace is something we take for granted in Canada, but, it’s fragile. We all have to be a part of (building peace).”

Kincardine resident Albrecht Ebner created peace day as a response to Sept. 11, 2001. In the years since, the committee has worked to make the event larger and attract a wider audience. Loney was approached to speak at the 2007 event, but couldn’t fit it in his schedule. This year, he’s partly drawn to Peace Day due to the significance of the date.
“I feel that Sept. 12 is really important,” he says. “After 2001, we’ve been living in a new day. “

Loney said Sept. 11 bred a hostility that has led to invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq as well as a “war on terrorism with no end.” He says Sept. 12 is a great day to reflect on where the world is heading.

In addition to the evening event at the Kincardine Legion, Loney will speak to elementary school students and KDSS during the day on Sept. 12. The Peace Day program also includes a parade to Victoria Park by local elementary school students and a presentation by founder Albrecht.

Loney says he’s never been to Kincardine and is looking forward to spending time in the community. A Toronto resident, he understands the unique role small towns can play in creating large scale changes.

“I’ve read up on how this event was started,” he says. “There seems to be a lot of energy (for discussing peace) here.”