Local peacebuilding community responds to global conflict in Ukraine

Monday, March 28, 2022
Dove carrying olive branch in Ukrainian flag colours

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine commenced on February 24, 2022, the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement community has watched the devastating conflict unfold with concern. In response, Centre community members have engaged in peacebuilding efforts through advocacy, relief efforts, scholarship and dialogue.  

On February 24, 2022, Russian military forces invaded Ukraine. By February 25, the threat of nuclear warfare echoed around the world, rekindling Cold War-era fears and renewed calls for disarmament. Since then, community members at the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement have actively engaged in dialogue and peacebuilding efforts aimed at better understanding the ramifications of conflict-driven decisions and helping those impacted by the invasion 

The Centre unites peace-oriented innovators, established peacebuilding organizations, and interdisciplinary researchers to act as a bridge between campus and community, scholarship and practice, and faith and justice. During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the responses of Centre participants have once again demonstrated the community’s commitment to peace and nonviolence.    

Visit the Centre’s website or subscribe to the newsletter for more from the Centre for Peace Advancement.  

Project Ploughshares 

Project Ploughshares logo
Founded in 1976, Project Ploughshares has long provided expertise and analysis to “advance policies and actions to prevent war and armed violence and build peace.” With programs that address nuclear disarmament, space security, ballistic missile defence, the arms trade, and Canadian security spending, Ploughshares has been monitoring the ongoing conflict, paying particular attention to the threat of nuclear warfare: Whatever happens in Ukraine, keep nuclear weapons out,” urges Jaramillo following an open forum discussion hosted by Project Ploughshares on March 3, 2022

The Ukraine crisis presents a sobering reminder that for as long as nuclear weapons exist, there is a real possibility that they might be used. The prospect of their catastrophic humanitarian consequences far outweighs any perceived military utility. And the only assured way of preventing their use is through their complete elimination.

Cesar Jaramillo

Project Ploughshares Researcher Kelsey Gallagher has been tracking Canada’s government-to-government military transfers to Ukraine and offering much needed context to conversations happening through Canadian media outlets such as The Globe and Mail and CBC News.  

Read Project Ploughshares’ recommendations for how this context should be addressed in their Statement on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine 

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) 

MCC logo
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) has worked in Ukraine for over a century. Established in 1920 to offer humanitarian relief to families during the Russian Revolution, MCC is now active in more than 50 countries around the world. Since the onset of recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine in 2013, MCC has coordinated life-saving emergency responses to help communities on the ground. MCC’s current programs for vulnerable and displaced populations in and around Ukraine are supported by donations to MCC’s Ukraine Emergency Response fund, and provide food, housing, emergency supplies, and healing resources. 

While offering humanitarian support, MCC acknowledges the difficulty of advocating for nonviolence in the midst of armed conflict. MCC Canada’s Executive Director, Rick Cober Bauman notes that, in the face of war, a commitment to nonviolence may be met with skepticism and even ridicule. However, MCC continues to be a voice for peace. There are not many others voicing this commitment [to nonviolence]. Granted ours is a small voice, and especially hard to hear now. But if no one claims and amplifies the voice of non-violent peacebuilding, will it disappear?” 

Read A Quiet Voice at the Brink of War by MCC Canada’s Executive Director, Rick Cober Bauman. 

Conrad Grebel University College 

Grebel logo
Like many other communities, Conrad Grebel University College has been attempting to understand the conflict and how to be of service to those affected. Centre participants have supported students, staff, and faculty by organizing informative events and facilitating spaces for dialogue about the conflict.  

For example, Cesar Jaramillo, Executive Director of Project Ploughshares, spoke to students at Grebel’s weekly Community Supper on March 2, 2022. Jaramillo offered a frank presentation on the conflict that “awoke student senses,” according to Grebel Student Life and Recruitment Coordinator, Rebekah Dejong.  

There was no sugar coating the war in Ukraine, allowing Grebel students to feel the magnitude of the situation. Students have continued to have conversation about what is happening and have initiated small efforts to help see the crisis end.

Rebekah Dejong

Meanwhile, academic courses at Grebel taught by faculty such as Eric Lepp, Visiting Assistant Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies, have provided context to students in the classroom. Lepp has supported students’ understanding of the situation in real time: “In the midst of a semester where I am teaching two courses on the themes of nonviolent methods and peace movements, the students and I have been confronted in our learnings by the largest land invasion since WWII,” shares Lepp.  

During this re-awakening to the threat of nuclear warfare, students are inspired by disarmament movements that did not end with the Cold War. We are leaning into the messages of firmly-grounded organizations, like Project Ploughshares, as they tell us about the many and varied implications of (nuclear) wars and what steps we can take towards more peaceful possibilities.

Eric Lepp

To support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and around the world, consider donating to MCC’s Ukraine emergency fund and reading publications by Project Ploughshares.