“May peace prevail on Earth.”
That’s the prayer written in eight different languages on the peace pole unveiled at St. Saviour’s Anglican Church on Saturday morning: Sinixt, Ktunaxa, English, French, Russian, Mandarin, Italian and Hebrew.
“When we set out to create our peace pole, we realized we couldn’t accommodate every language spoken in this area,” St. Saviour’s Julia Roberts told the crowd.
“As we made our choices, we thought about the languages spoken by sizeable groups of people in this area and the languages of people who contributed to the development of Nelson.”
By embarking on this project, the St. Saviour’s congregation was joining a worldwide movement, started in Japan in 1975, that has seen tens of thousands of these poles constructed in over 180 countries. Each one features the same phrase in a multitude of different languages.
So they were purposeful with their choices, she said, honouring the First Nations who occupied by the land before settlers arrived first. They obtained the proper words from the Salish School of Spokane and the Ktunaxa Nation Council in Cranbrook.
The team then included English and French because they’re the official languages of Canada, then added Mandarin and Italian because members of those communities contributed significantly to the early development of Nelson.
“Then we thought about our Doukhobour neighbours, who left Russia over a hundred years ago to preserve their pacifist values,” said Roberts.
“We have recently gotten to know them better through our interfaith collaborative work, so we added Russian to our pole.”
Finally, they chose Hebrew, since that’s the language of their spiritual ancestors.
The ceremony was led by Rev. Jeff Donnelly, with contributions from Sinixt elder Shelly Boyd and French poet Vincent Des Lauriers. During the proceedings the pole was wrapped up in a white sheet, and then it was unveiled for the approximately 50 people gathered on the church lawn.
It was designed by Rob Stacey and Graeme Leadbeater of Cover Architecture, with the pole having been donated by Ted Hall of Spearhead Timberworks and crafted by Spearhead’s Bill Harbord and his team. Peter Gosney and Jay McKimm installed the base.
“We hope our prayer for peace will inspire people of all languages and backgrounds to pray and work for peace.”