The World Peace Forum Society was established to organize the World Peace Forum in Vancouver in June of 2006. It brought together over 5000 activists, academics and artists who were interested in working for a peaceful, just and sustainable world. It included a 3 day Labour Peace Forum.
Following the overwhelmingly success of the 2006 World Peace Forum, the organizers took a long rest. The forum brought together thousands of activists from several dozen countries. It also exhausted the organizers. As the dust settled, there was the question of what to do next. At the World Peace Forum Society general meeting in January of 2007, the decision was made to continue working to create spaces and events where activists, academics and artists committed to promoting peace, social justice and sustainability could get together to discuss and plan. A new board was elected and planning for the future began. In April, a meeting of more than thirty activists took place where the future work of the society was discussed. The consensual priority was to organize a regional Peace Forum focusing on BC and the US Pacific Northwest.
On September 29th, 2007, Peace Without Borders was held at Peace Arch Park on the Canadian-U.S. border. It was organized by the World Peace Forum Society, Stopwar.ca, the Canadian Federation of Students, BC Labour Against the War, Whatcom County Peace and Justice Centre and Community to Community Development. This was a unique opportunity for peace and social justice activists from the two countries to meet. Despite inclement weather, several hundred people attended thematic workshops and cultural presentations. Among other things, it produced the first joint statement by the BC Federation of Labour and the Washington State Labor Council, calling for an end to the wars against the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan.
On November 8th, 9th and 11th, 2008, the first Teach-In – ‘Ninety Years After The War To End All Wars’- was held on the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War, at the Maritime Labour Centre in Vancouver. Several hundred participants attended more than 30 plenaries and workshops over three days. Topics ranged from Canada’s ‘peacekeeping’ activities in Haiti to the BC labour movements anti-war activities during World War I, from presentations on ‘Oil, Blood Money and Empire’ to a keynote address by Tariq Ali and presentations by high profile labour activists Clarence Thomas, ILGWU, San Francisco and Denis Lemelin, National President, CUPW. A special cultural presentation was the remounting by Neworld Theatre of ‘My Name Is Rachel Corrie’, a play about the American peace activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza. It was intentionally held to coincide with Remembrance Day.
In November of 2009 we held the next Teach-In – ‘1929-1939 – From Crash to Catastrophe’. It looked at key events between the stock market crash and onset of the world wide economic crisis in October of 1929 and the beginning of World War II in September of 1939. This period, rich in historic lessons for today’s activists, was explored through plenary sessions, workshops and artistic exhibits and performances. There were presentations and discussions that drew on what peace and social and economic justice activists were doing in 2009 as we were (and still are) confronted by another world economic crisis and new wars, including the war against the earth. One of the most provocative presentations was a debate of the strategy of the Popular Front between Trotskyist activist and author Dan Lebotz and Communist Party of Canada leader Miguel Figueroa. It placed in a contemporary context an old debate which continues to retain relevance. Other workshops of note included “The Canadian Left in the 30’s – CCF, CP and other popular movements” featuring Jim Sinclair of the BC Federation of Labour, and “War and Law -The origins of ‘Human Rights’” featuring well known lawyer, Gail Davidson.
In 2010, the third Teach-In was called “The Fifties- Reconstruction vs Revolution, and the First ‘War on Terror’” and was held over three days in mid November at Langara College and the W.I.S.E. Hall. It once again followed the desire to hold the event in conjunction with Remembrance Day. Workshops and plenary sessions addressed topics that covered the colonial revolution in various parts of the world from Algeria to Vietnam to Quebec, and the birth of social movements including the women’s and environmental movements. Speakers included Paul Buhle, historian and graphic novelist, Amir Khadir, Quebec Solidaire Member of the National Assembly, Henry Heller, author of The Cold War and the New Imperialism, Arthur Manuel, BC First Nations activist, Marion Pollack, national CUPW educator, and noted Cuban diplomat, writer and veteran of the revolution Manuel E. Yepe. Manuel spoke on his youthful recruitment to the Cuban revolution at a special Nov. 11 session. In addition to Manuel’s presentation, the Teach-In showed the ‘pro-peace’ science fiction 1951 classic “The Day The Earth Stood Still”.
In 2011, the Teach-In was held once again at Langara College and the WI.S.E. Hall. Under the title “Another World Is Possible – But How Do We Get There” the Teach-In divided sessions into four groupings: Economy, Ecology, War & Peace and Culture. Featured speakers ranged from eco-socialist Fred Magdoff to Code Pink representative, Rae Abileah. Sessions featured discussions of sites of popular resistance to the neo-liberal economic and social offensive.
The cultural presentation was a showing of “The Wizard of Oz” with an accompanying presentation on its political significance.
The theme of the 2012 Teach-In was “WAR ON THE WORKERS – NAMING IT AND FIGHTING BACK”.
This year we returned to SFU Harbour Centre.
The Nov. 11 cultural event was a showing of “Catch 22” at the WISE Hall.
The theme of the 2013 Teach-In was “If Capitalism doesn’t work – What does?”
An important and imported speaker was Roger Rashi of Quebec Solidaire.
The cultural event on Nov. 11 was a live mounting of “The Investigator” – a CBC radio documentary attacking and satirizing McCarthyism.
The theme of the 2014 Teach-In was “Imperialism, Resistance, Alternatives – 100 Years After the Start of WWI”.
Oct 25, 2014, at SFU Harbour Centre.
Keynote speakers Minqi Li, Mahdi Nazemroaya, and Marta Harnecker.
Nov 11 cultural event: a showing of “All Quiet on the Western Front” at the WISE Hall.
The theme of the 2015 Teach-In was “Austerity and Anti-Terrorism: Two Lies and How To Fight Them”.
Nov 15, 2015, at SFU Harbour Centre.
Keynote speaker Sarah Jaffe.
Nov 11 cultural event: a showing of “Z”.