Accepting Joanna Miller Peace Grant proposals—2018 Competition

The Saskatoon Peace Coalition is accepting proposals for the Joanna Miller Peace Grant, which this year is set at up to $1,000.

The deadline for applications is September 21st, 2018.  Applications should be submitted by email to and

Proposals are invited from individuals or groups in the Saskatoon area. They may focus on local, national or international peace issues. In seeking to honour Joanna Miller’s legacy, preference will be given to projects aimed at raising awareness regarding the importance of peace and justice.

Projects might include:

  • conferences,
  • school-based projects at the primary, secondary or post-secondary level,
  • artistic expressions,
  • specific campaigns,
  • public lectures,
  • volunteer work, or
  • some other peace activism within the community.

The deadline is chosen to facilitate applications for school-based projects and because the United Nations World Day of Peace falls September 21.

Learn more about Joanna Miller and the grant. 


Have you Ever Considered Wearing a White Poppy?

14563430_10101551054682501_8698870245337581974_nOn Tuesday October 24th, this was a hot topic at the Saskatoon Peace Coalition meeting. The white poppies you may see around this fall represent an important set of ideas: respecting veterans but honouring and remembering in our hearts all those affected by war AND looking for creative alternatives to war.

For more on the ideas associated with white poppies at this time of year see

We have some white poppies and will bring them to the peace education event this Friday at Mount Royal Mennonite Church, 610 Avenue 0 North: (go down Avenue P and turn right, and then right again on Avenue 0) this Friday (Oct.27th) at 7 p.m.. Three notable advocates for peace will be speaking. Ruth and Walter Klaasen and Archbishop Donald Bolen. Ruth will address the topic “Stockpiles for war and peace”? and Archbishop Don will address “A Time for Peace”. There will be time for Questions and Answers. All welcome.

Hope to see you there!



Joanna Miller Peace Grant Decision Made!

One of the awardees, a group of energized university students, will be putting on this exciting event on November 21st at 6:30pm at STM College.

Symbols of Peace: An Open Dialogue22539785_1983468395254306_6728710046499422171_n

All the details at


Hiroshima – Nagasaki Commemoration 2016

Thank you to the organizing committee for giving me the opportunity to talk to you today. 
I’ve been to many Hiroshima-Nagasaki commemorations, and I have noticed how seldom there has been any mention of who dropped the bombs on those cities, and why. I want to address there two questions.

Who dropped the bombs? The bombs were dropped by the United States Air Force, as authorized by U.S. President Harry Truman.

Why were atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I believe that there were four inter-related reasons:

1. To force Japan to surrender. Japan and the US had been engaged in a ferocious war for four years, mainly over whether the American Empire or the Japanese Empire would control the Pacific. Both sides had suffered huge military casualties. The civilian populations of the countries and colonies attacked and occupied by Japan, and the Japanese cities bombed and fire-bombed by the U.S., also suffered huge casualties and infrastructure damage. By 1945 the U.S. was in a position to attack mainland Japan, but U.S. casualties would have been huge if they had attempted to do so. So using the atomic bomb was intended to force Japan to surrender, which it did shortly after the bombs were dropped.

2. “Let’s see if it works.” The scientists and military who had built and tested the bomb at the Trinity site in New Mexico wanted to see what the effect would be of dropping an atomic bomb on a large city. Hiroshima and the other cities on the list of possible targets were chosen because their geographic location and composition would make it easier for the USAF to view and measure the impact of the bombs. The original list of cities included Kyoto, but Kyoto was spared because the U.S. Secretary for War had honeymooned in that beautiful city. Hiroshima and Kokura were selected as primary targets but Kokura was spared because of bad weather. The bomber pilot could not see his target and so the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki instead.

3. Racism. Two days after the Nagasaki bombing U.S. President Truman said “When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him like a beast.” Throughout the war, the U.S. government, military and media depicted the Japanese as a subhuman, murderous people. This image was used to rally U.S. support for the war, as well as justifying the firebombing of Japanese cities and the use of atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

4. A warning to others. By using the bomb the U.S. was sending a strong message to the USSR that the U.S. had the ultimate weapon and would use it against the USSR, or any other enemy, if the U.S. so wished.

5. Because war is war. We have been conditioned to believe that military and civilian casualties, and the destruction of schools, hospitals and even entire cities are the consequences of war. This is not the case. The infliction of casualties and the destruction of property are the objectives of any war. War is all about winning and using whatever weapons are necessary to win.

To sum up: The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an escalation by the U.S. of the war with Japan, using new weapons of mass destruction. New wars produce new weapons, so in addition to saying “Never Again!” to the use of nuclear weapons, we must work to bring about an end to all wars, and build a truly peaceful world.

Thank you for your attention. Please see me afterwards if you would like to discuss this with me and perhaps with others who are interested.

      Michael Murphy

      Saskatoon Peace Coalition



Michael Murphy awarded Saskatoon’s Joanna Miller Peace Award on September 22, 2015

Michael was born in Eire and has spent his life trying to make the world a better place. For many years he was a worker for Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace that took him overseas to Africa and for many years in Saskatoon.
On retirement he continued to work hard to find where he could be of some use and discovered that there was no organization in Saskatoon that had as its only objective the pursuit and promotion of Peace. In 2000 he pulled together a group of people with similar interests and formed the Saskatoon Peace Coalition. It was soon joined by  Project Ploughshares Saskatoon and Veterans Against Nuclear Arms. In addition there are several individual members all of whom want to promote Peace in the Home, Peace in the Community and Peace in the World.

From its earliest days Michael has been its President and driving force.   He has chaired its meetings and managed to keep these deliberations mainly on track. He has been resourceful in bringing issues before its members and the Coalition has been able to mount educational workshops, sponsor lectures and make appropriate public demonstrations on issues when Peace has been destroyed or planned.

He is politically aware and very few dangerous and foolish acts by our leaders escape his attention that results in a large agenda for the Coalition to attend to.

He also represents the aura of Peace in his personal life by acts of kindness such as visiting people undergoing hard times and through various acts of friendship. Michael has recently been involved with Child Hunger and Education Program [CHEP} and he wrote a play ‘The Generals Take our Defence Minister Shopping’, which was  shown at the Fringe Festival in August, 2015.
Michael Murphy will continue to work for peace and justice. He is a worthy recipient of this award.

Betsy and John Bury





Joanna Miller Peace Award – Acceptance Speech

Well, it looks as if just about everyone I know in Saskatoon is here.  Just as well this is not being held in a pub or I’d never get home. ….but there’s an idea for next year.

Thank you all very much for being here. Thank you too for giving me a rare opportunity to wear my suit, usually dusted off for less joyful occasions. I’d like especially to welcome Greg Miller, Joanna Miller’s son, who is representing the Miller family. The Miller family funds this annual Award in memory of Joanna, whom many of us knew and who was a tireless activist for peace at the local, national and international levels. In fact, it was Joanna who suggested a Peace Conference for Saskatoon some years ago, and it was as a direct result of that successful conference that the Peace Coalition came into being.

I also welcome the very deserving winners of last year’s award, Betsy and John Bury.

I’d like to thank most sincerely the Selection Committee made up of Joanna’s daughter Leslie Loizides, who could not be here today, Linda Murphy and Sam Sambasivan.  Thanks too to the good people who provided letters of reference to the Committee. And special thanks to my wife Lorraine who has held the fort, so to speak, on the many occasions on which I have gone forth to save the world.

I would like to salute the past and present Stalwarts of the Saskatoon Peace Coalition, many of whom are with us today – would you please raise your hands – thank you. It has been a pleasure to work for more than ten years with these dedicated peace activists. I accept this honour as a recognition of the work done by this fine group of people, many of whom worked for peace long before the Peace Coalition came together in 2002 to protest the imminent invasion of Iraq by the U.S.

Now for the serious issues:  Knowing my passion for peace, the organizers have allowed me  30 minutes to talk to you about war and peace, but I’ll try to cut things short and do it in three.


Today our world desperately peace. There are many wars under way right now, each one a tragedy and each one bringing terror, death and injury to more civilians than combatants. Each one of these conflicts could have been prevented and could now be resolved through diplomacy, negotiations, sanctions and boycotts. I am going to talk about just one of those wars, as it is of special concern to me.

You are all familiar with the story of David and Goliath. David, a small but courageous warrior, defeated the giant Goliath. I‘m not going into the origins of that story, but I would like you to consider what would have happened if David, the underdog, had missed with his slingshot, and lost this encounter. What if Goliath’s army, far better equipped than David’s and supported by powerful allies, had then subjugated David’s people, taken away more and more of their land, hemmed them into enclaves, denied them their basic human rights and constantly humiliated them? What if Goliath’s army attacked David’s people frequently and ferociously, killing many of their women and children, when David’s people were driven by despair to rise up against their oppressors? And what if other more powerful countries provided Goliath’s armies with the latest in military technology to be used against David’s people, while other countries supported Goliath’s people by cheering them on, or by remaining silent when yet another assault was made on David’s people?

In relation to the struggle of native people to achieve justice in North America, Buffy St. Marie sings:

                                    That’s all in the past, you might say

                                    But it’s still going on here today.

And it’s still going on in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. This unequal conflict has been going on for over sixty years and needs to be brought to an end. A peaceful negotiated solution is possible, but only if Israel’s backers and military suppliers, especially the US, stop their unquestioning support for Israel, and only if countries like Canada, under our present Harper government, stop maintaining a one-sided position on the conflict, a position that unfailingly favours Israel.

By the way, as we are in the middle of an endless federal election campaign, you may be interested in the ranking of the parties as regards Palestine by the Montreal-based Committee for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME).

P.C.s: F;      NDP: C+ :     Liberals: F;   Greens: D   Bloc Quebecois  A-


So what can we do about this particular conflict?

  1. Read up – read up on this conflict on websites such as Monthly Review, The Guardian, and the Committee for Justice and Peace in the Middle East.
  2. Watch and listen up – what are the media saying about this? Contradict biased reports when you can.
  3. Stand up for a settlement of this conflict that will guarantee security for Israel and liberation for the Palestinians.
  4. Act Up: I know that everyone here wishes to live in a peaceful world, free of war and other forms of violence. If you want to be directly involved in peace work, at home or elsewhere, we invite you to join the Saskatoon Peace Coalition. We pay special attention to the need to abolish nuclear weapons, and to the situation in the Middle East, including the Israel-Palestine conflict. We are in urgent need of new members, preferably but not necessarily young people, and especially those who are skilled in social media, whatever that is.

Thank you so much for your attention, and thanks again to the Selection Committee for honouring me with this splendid award.




Hiroshima Day

While we remember those killed or maimed by  atomic bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki seventy years ago, very few of us have a real understanding of the effect of those weapons. Even at the time it was not the amount of destruction that occurred that impressed, for both sides had been killing fifty thousands in bombing raids, but that it was just one bomb in just one plane that had done all that terrible destruction.
The weapons that now would be used are between ten and a thousand times more powerful than Little Boy and Fat Man, the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A standard current nuclear warhead delivered by a long range missile exploded above our heads here in Rotary Park would destroy all the buildings standing in the City of Saskatoon. Several thousand people would be vaporized and completely disappear, several thousand more would be burnt to death and many many, more would succumb to the effects of radiation. Last Thursday, the Mayor of Hiroshima said that by the end of 1945, 140,000 irreplaceable lives had been taken. By comparison, the irreplaceable 250,000 citizens of Saskatoon would be taken as well as many hundreds in outlying places such as Warman, Martensville and Delisle.


The world leaders in 1945 /46 had witnessed the destruction in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and knew of the effects of new weapons being tested, usually in the homes of indigenous people. It was the realization of their destructive force and long time consequences that created the impetus for the creation of the United Nations to work for World Peace.


Children, I expect some of you have been told not to play with matches or the fire, perhaps after you nearly caused a fire I expect that now you do not play with matches anymore. Unfortunately the leaders of the USA , Russia, Great Britain, France and China having found out how dangerous nuclear weapons were, did not put them away and get rid of them but started to build more and more and make them better, so that they could kill more people.


In response Ireland led the non nuclear weapon nations to have the United Nations enact the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty of 1970 under which those nations that did not have nuclear weapons agreed not to obtain them and the five nuclear nations, USA, Russia, UK, France and China gave a solemn agreement to end the arms race and move to nuclear weapon disarmament.Despite this Treaty those Five Nations have continued to play with their matches so that by 1986 there were over 70.000 very large nuclear weapons in the world. Up to date they have not lit them but there have been several near accidents.


For many years USA and Russia kept their weapons knowing that their use in war would result in Mutually Assured Destruction commonly referred to as MAD. During this time Israel.India,Pakistan and North Korea built their own atomic weapons. In 1986 after the meeting of Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev of Russia as well as the other nuclear weapon states have reduced their armaments and the numbers have been coming down and now there are ONLY 15,000 nuclear weapons in the world. However, 1,600 of these are capable of being fired at twenty minutes notice if ordered to do so by the Presidents of the USA and Russia. If as few as 100 were fired the dust created would be sufficient to cut out the rays of the sun and so create Nuclear Winter resulting in the death of all living thing within six months with t he possible exception of bacteria. Cold War Red Button Blackberry


The NPT is reviewed by a United Nations Review Committee every five years. At the last meeting in New York in May the Nuclear Weapon states would not agree to change this practice. Furthermore they also could not agree to create a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Mediterranean.


The Nuclear weapon states have made it clear that they will keep and improve their nuclear armament. We therefore rely upon the training of the military personnel in Russia and the USA not to make a mistake in interpretation of the suspicious shadows they see on their monitors. If they do it will lead to ACCIDENTAL NUCLEAR WAR


There is always the risk of terrorist use of some sort of nuclear weapon as there is no agreement how to safely contain the vast amount of nuclear waste that could be the basis for an amateur bomb.

And finally any of our leaders who are prepared to live under MAD, the threat of mutually assured destruction, may under perceived or actual military threat decide to start a nuclear weapon exchange.


When the USA, the most powerful and partially well educated country, can have clowns like Donald Trump running for the Presidency, I personally don’t feel too secure.


The breakdown of the NPT discussions this year means that now the NON Nuclear Weapon States are on their own to create an effective treaty that would ban nuclear weapons for ever. There are already 107 nations that are committed to create such a Convention.


For this to happen the real effort will have to be made by citizens demanding that their leaders support those 107 until the Nuclear Weapon States are isolated and agree not to live with the possibility of blowing ourselves up.


The Abolition of Slavery, Independence for India, Civil Rights in America, the fall of the Berlin Wall and Apartheid in South Africa all came about because the people demanded that it should.


We must start at home. You will be shocked to learn that Canada was a joint mover with the USA and UK of the resolution to deny any progress in nuclear disarmament at the recent NPT conference.

Our young people have shown us the way to work for Peace by working to stop bullying in their schools.


The rest of us must persuade our government or obtain a government so that Canada can once again become a nation working for Peace and not one that pretends it is a significant military power.


When the Hibakusha, Setsoko Thurlow who many of us met here a few years ago spoke to the assembled nations at the recent NPT conference she reminded them of the memorial in the Peace Park in Hiroshima that reads,


”Rest in Peace, this error must not be repeated.”




Written by John Bury


The 2015 five-yearly review conference of the Non Proliferation Treaty

This conference is now over. Under Article 6 of the NPT the nuclear weapons states have an obligation to reduce and eventually eliminate all nuclear weapons. This obligation was extended in 1995 at the Review Conference. Since then there has been no reduction in NWs and in fact the NW states have spent fast sums in modifying and improving their weapons under the guise of seeing that they remain safe.

The Review this year took place after three international conferences on the humanitarian effects of NWs ending in a pledge made in Vienna last December now supported by 107 nations and made international Peace organizations as well as the Secretary General of the UN to fill the legal gap in would make the NPT call for prohibition of NWs.

The discussions and debates that took place started with to [1] create a non Nuclear Weapon zone in the Mediterranean, which was opposed by Israel that attends these conferences under the fiction of being a Non-Nuclear Weapons state. [2] to discontinue the practice of “Launch on Warning” that was ruled out by the NW states.

The rest of the Conference was devoted to designing a statement to carry the process onwards. The final draft was not accepted by the Conference as it had been made by the NW states and had no mention of ultimate disarmament but rather suggested that the NPT gave NW states the right to continue to maintain an deploy these weapons of ultimate destruction. This statement was supported by Canada*

This may be seen as a defeat but many nations see that it gives the 107 nations the opportunity to pursue the implementation of the pledge to strengthen the prohibition of NWs.

For any of this to happen we have to have the support of Governments and at thje present time ours is not one of them. Governments will not change unless their people demand that they do. It remains up to us to make our voice heard. We succeeded once when the World Court Project [ the first international campaign based in the internet] mobilized enough strength at the United Nations and in the civil community to get action. Since then social media have multiplied and improved. All we have to do is make people pay attention!

*I believe this is the first time Canada has supported the NE states. In the past they have either opposed or abstained.

– John Bury


Canada at War in Syria – a Roundtable Discussion

This Sunday evening, April 12, at the Unitarian Centre (213 2nd Street East), 7:00 pm We’ve invited our local MPs and candidates in the upcoming election, along with academics who can educate us about the situation, and there will be plenty of time for discussion. This event is sponsored by the Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon along with the Saskatoon Peace Coalition. We hope you can make it.


When the movies go to war and seldom give peace a chance

Presentation at St. Thomas More College

Gerald Schmitz, 20 March 2015

Twelve years ago yesterday was an important anniversary. I was celebrating my mother Denise’s 90th birthday—she’s a still vibrant 102! But returning from her birthday dinner and turning on the television were the images of missiles raining down on Baghdad. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq had begun with the so-called “shock and awe” campaign.

Here we are in March 2015 and Canada, which resisted being drawn into the 2003 quagmire, is technically at war in Iraq, dropping bombs on forces of the terroristic so-called “Islamic State” which controls significant parts of Iraq, Syria, and potentially Libya as well. Canada no longer has any military involvement in Afghanistan. But it’s hardly mission accomplished. Levels of violence against civilians in Afghanistan increased last year to over 10,500 casualties, the highest since 2009. Going on 14 years, the so-called “global war on terror” has had staggering costs in blood and treasure. On current evidence it has to be judged an enormous failure even if Western governments are loath to admit it.

What does this any of this have to do with the movies? More than you might think. From the beginning Hollywood, with its global cultural influence, has been in love with making war movies celebrating patriotic American virtues. As a form of mass entertainment par excellence, movies have long shaped popular attitudes towards war.   Yes “war is hell”, but being on the victorious right side of history in the world wars helped to make it justifiable. So we have WWII movies like Saving Private Ryan which memorialize an ideal of righteous heroic sacrifice as does Brad Pitt’s Fury released last year. Continue reading