Hiroshima mayor honoured with peace prize

If action movies have taught us anything, it’s that award galas are crashed by bad guys threatening to blow up the guest of honour.

However, Thur., Nov. 2 the first annual Calgary Peace Awards was a quiet affair, attended by Calgarians eager to honour Mayor Tadatatoshi Akiba of Hiroshima and support the Consortium for Peace Studies at the University of Calgary.

“We started with two goals,” said CPS co-chair George Melnyk, also a U of C professor. “We want to develop a peace studies program at the U of C and establish an institution for research.”

The consortium is a group of about 20 members from 11 different faculties, formed in April 2005 to increase the presence of peace studies at the university. They have since implemented projects such as their speaker series and the Peace Play Competition–not to mention the Peace Award.

“We wanted to recognize people from around the world who have made a contribution to peace.” said Melnyk, specifically citing Mayor Akiba’s work as president of Mayors for Peace, an anti-nuclear movement.

Akiba is known in Japan for his many accomplishments as mayor, including curbing gang activity, increasing tourism and democratizing municipal decision making. He is also known the world-over for his unceasing efforts in the field of nuclear disarmament.

“I’ve tried to get the voice of hibaksha–that is, the survivors of the bomb–to reach as many people as possible,” said Akiba. “There is a growing trend that mayors and members of local parliaments are becoming more active. They have to be more active because they’re players in creating the future.”

The former math professor was lauded as a “beacon of hope” and praised as a passionate leader by friends and fellow politicians. Mayor Dave Bronconnier and U of C president Dr. Harvey Weingarten received congratulations for their commitments to peace and the CPS.

Akiba applauded Bronconnier for joining Mayors for Peace and committing to the goal of abolishing nuclear arms by 2020.

“The hibaksha will not let it happen again, no one else should ever suffer as we did,” Akiba concluded, reminding the audience the human race cannot prosper while it is faced with nuclear proliferation.

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