Hi, my name is Karen Emerson. For the past 18 years, I have had the distinct privilege of being the Artistic Director of the Children’s Peace Theatre. The world has changed in so many ways since I first brought ten children up the long driveway to this magical spot hidden in the woods, where I fell in love with the possibility of building peace through the arts. This organization has transformed as well, thanks to the courageous young people and artists who challenged the white liberal concepts of peace and colonial ideas of art to create a community hub built on the legacies of Black and Indigenous wisdom and knowledge. Today this is a place that honours our spirits, the Land and our ancestors. It is a place where art is being reclaimed as a spiritual practice and recognized as a critical form of knowledge production. I believe this is exactly what we need to shift the underlying causes of the ecological, economic, and spiritual crisis threatening all our futures.
The pandemic amplified these crises. An increase in racial, social, and environmental injustices, has caused heightened vulnerability for our communities. Over the past two years, we have done our utmost to keep our doors open for a community for young people to create, grieve, and build but we need your help. These have been difficult years for many but imagine being a young person finding your way in our increasingly complex, often hostile, yet still an impossibly beautiful world.
As summer approaches, we are gearing up to launch our 21st Peace Camp and our first full production since 2019. Let me tell you a little about what we have planned, why it is so important for young people right now, and how you can join us to make a huge difference in the lives of children and youth today.
Since 2000, Peace Camp has offered children, youth and artists a place where they can leave the often unbearable weight of their lives behind and experience the joy of community viscerally through the arts. Grounded in principles of transformative justice, Black liberation and Indigenous Sovereignty, what makes Peace Camp a unique experience is that it is a place where children can talk openly about their lived experiences of identity and ancestry, and ignite a lifelong love of justice and the arts. Working with incredibly skilled artists, their biggest worries are transformed into profound insights and stirring performances.
This year’s theme is All about Love: A tribute to bell hooks. We will be exploring what it means to love in a world that has reduced the possibilities of love in most aspects of our lives. How have our personal, cultural and familial legacies influenced the ways we love and who we love? How has capitalism and colonialism reduced love to the realms of the harlequin romance, while prohibiting actions that would infuse the systems and structures that impact our lives with love? Building on the legacies of Black and Indigenous activists and scholars this year we honour the late author and social activist bell hooks who once said,” what we do is more important than what we say or what we say we believe.” This is true of both love and peace. They both demand action, and the actions we take every day, become our legacies. Collectively, we have a chance to build a legacy of love together.
So I am humbly asking for your actions of support. For years we have been dependent on public funding. Due to the pandemic, funds are tight for us and for the families of children and youth who will benefit from the camp. We are relying on people like you to help us raise $30,000 for Peace Camp 2022. The funds will help us provide bursaries to ensure no children are turned away due to a lack of funds. It will cover the costs of nutritious lunches and snacks for the campers, provide honorariums to the youth who mentor the children and gain leadership skills and help pay the professional artists who come to share their craft.
If you have an appreciation of the power of the arts and believe that children and youth can be the instigators of a world where love is at the centre of all our decisions, please give generously so that Peace Camp can continue to offer a pathway of truth, justice, and transformation for the next generation.
For more information about the Children's Peace Theatre and about Peace Camp, you may go to our website http://www.childrenspeacetheatre.org/
. You can also give us a call at [phone redacted] or e-mail: [email redacted]
Please DO donate to Peace Camp 2022.