Conrad Grebel University College
140 Westmount Road North
Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G6
Five years ago, Kindred Credit Union (formerly Mennonite Savings and Credit Union) Centre for Peace Advancement opened its doors. The grand opening coincided with the International Day of Peace, September 21st, foreshadowing the local and global role that the Centre for Peace Advancement would soon play.
Our 5th anniversary celebration welcomed old and new friends alike. Guests were encouraged to take a journey through our headline walk, where news items featuring our participants and partners adorned the walls through the stairway. The Centre itself became both a time capsule and a meeting space. Each section of the 4th floor represented a different sector of our journey, with timelines showcasing Grebel Gallery launches, and bulletin boards full of past events. Our offices and Incubator spaces were abuzz with conversations and connections, as participants and partners shared about their work, inviting the community to come alongside the peacebuilding that takes place on our corner of campus.
Gathering around food and friends, key members from our journey shared their thoughts on the unique role of the Centre for Peace Advancement in the Waterloo innovation ecosystem. Michelle Jackett, the inaugural Centre for Peace Advancement Coordinator, shared from the early years of the Centre, reflecting on the role of our inspiration partner, Kindred Credit Union; our roots at Conrad Grebel University College; and our leadership in the social innovation space, noting that, “the vivaciousness, boldness, and fearlessness of social innovators has been absorbed and integrated in to the Centre for Peace Advancement’s very DNA!”
Jessie Reesor Rempel of Pastors in Exile (PiE), shared about her experiences as both an Epp Peace Incubator participant, and now a member of the Mentorship Circle. Jessie spoke about her moment of realization that the Centre for Peace Advancement, “became a space that did not ask us to define our work by traditional categories, but embraced our intersectionality.” Jessie has since moved out of the Incubator program and into a mentorship role, where she is continually humbled by the wisdom, passion and creativity that all of our partners and participants bring to the Centre.
Ben Janzen of Kindred Credit Union, also a member of our Mentorship Circle, reflected on key moments in the relationship between Conrad Grebel University College and Kindred. Recalling the decision for the credit union to provide a transformative gift, Ben spoke about how the voice of peace is profoundly needed in the Waterloo innovation ecosystem. As both Kindred Credit Union and the Centre for Peace Advancement continue to impact local and global communities, Ben inspired guests to work together for peacebuilding, encouraging attendees, “to be active in the Centre for Peace Advancement, for us to build the kind of world that we need.”
Since our beginnings five years ago, seven affiliate organizations that have co-located in the Centre, we have welcomed nineteen peace start-ups through the Epp Peace Incubator Program, and over 100 partners have collaborated on projects. Our participants and partners create solutions in every sphere of peacebuilding: from peace education in elementary schools to the safe removal of landmines in Cambodia to the global regulation of emerging technologies of warfare, to name a few. The Centre for Peace Advancement has seen countless events, partnerships, and fruitful conversations emerge out of connections based on the common goal of peacebuilding. We look back on the last five years with pride and gratitude, and look forward to the next five with joyous expectation that we hope will challenge and grow us in new ways as we continue to catalyze collaboration in Waterloo region and beyond.
Thank you to all who have joined us along the way! Whether you knew us from the very beginning, or made our acquaintance for the first time on Saturday, we are grateful for your support and encourage you to stay connected.