Client comments...

I am amazed at all that I learned about myself (and others) through the many exercises.  The exercises weren’t just information or tools to learn for the future but experiences I will treasure for what they gave to me and created in me.  In these two weeks, I witnessed the creation of a cohesive, confident team of activists committed to non-violence no matter what!  

I have no doubt that I leave here a changed person and that this training will be a part of me and be used for the rest of my life.

         ~ Christie Grapentine, participant in two-week intensive training in conflict transformation Asheville, North Carolina ~

The Health Equity session was extremely powerful and left a lot of people talking (in the hallways, in their cars, in the staff room, in the kitchen, in the offices)!!! That’s a HUGE outcome that can be measured by the engagement of staff today… and is amazing since the conversations were long overdue!!  Thank you!

         ~ Diversity and Equity Officer of an Ontario Community Health Centre ~



Flipping the Calendar:  Anger, Fear, Resistance

Anger and Fear at Christmas

I wrote a paper once on anger.  I had already been working in zones of conflict for a number of years and I was well acquainted with the warrior within and her capacity to interrupt the work of the peacemaker. Actually, that's not quite accurate.  She would unfurl like a cobra, reminding me of my humanity, ready to rage, blessing one, cursing another. Rather like Psalm 137 - 'What a great day that will be when I get to bash your babies heads against the stone as you did ours!' - rephrased in our day by Bruce Cockburn as, 'If I had a rocket launcher...'And not so much interrupting the peacemaker as animating the peacemaker. 

I remember, not long after returning from El Salvador in 1989, going to hear Karen Ridd speak in Waterloo about her experience there.  One man stood up in the Q&A to castigate her:  ‘You are so angry!  People will not want to hear your anger!’ 

During those November weeks of daily bombardment, tanks and machine guns in the streets, helicopter gunships at night, Karen and I met for the first time, two of the handful of Canadians caught in the crossfire between the FMLN insurgents and the US state department-funded Salvadoran military.  The out-sourced violence of the death squads was displayed most horribly in the brutal assassinations of six Jesuit priests and their two housekeepers: the priests’ faces torn off, their brains pulled out, a message to those who dare to think and speak out.  I remember the mutiny of my body, my descent a few days later into a fear and a helplessness that was immobilising; one telex one call (the latter from my mother) that somehow made it through the country-wide communication lockdown.  Click here to read more...


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Partera News and Views

Newsletter 3.3: Peacebuilding Women: A Festival of Women

Extraordinary, stunning, sobering, hopeful, disheartening, disturbing, encouraging, heart-rending - and set on the edge of the magnificent Lodhi Gardens, in Delhi: The Peace Builders International Film Festival, celebrating women's critical role in transforming situations of conflict, from the kitchen to the commons, the killing fields to the oil fields. Here are the ones I would put top of my list:
  • Sri Lankan women's formation of a Jamaat (council) sympathetic to women's issues (Invoking Justice);
  • nine ordinary women trying to make ends meet and lie with dignity in the oil- and violence-soaked Niger Delta (Daughters of the Niger Delta); 
  • a small group of girls living in one of the most remote forests left on earth who are transformed by the experience of attending a radical high school where they learn to protect the threatened rain forest and build a new life for themselves (Daughters of the Forest); Read on...

Newsletter 3.2: Peacebuilding Women: The Permission of our Hunger

Now a twelve-hour train ride north of Jalgaon, the internationals are divided into small groups going to different places, and my group is now in Madya Pradesh. We arrive mid-morning in Chilghat and are met by a boy and perhaps his grandfather.  They are just dismounting from their bicycles with their tabla and sticks in hand. In two vehicles, we slow down as the procession, led by the two percussionists, makes its way down a dirt road through, for me, unnameable tall grasses and grains, towards a colourful clutch of women and children.  We are greeted with the beautiful palm-to-palm gestures of Namaste. Some of the women carry plates heaped with small hillocks of cooked rice and turmeric which is pinched between fingers and applied to the centres of our foreheads. Read on... 

Newsletter 3.1: Peacebuilding Women:  Satyagraha Show & Tell

I am one of forty-seven women from 24 countries who are meeting with more than 100 Indian women activists here at the Gandhi Research Foundation. The facility, made of Jodhpur stone to last for centuries, houses a unique, interactive museum and an unmatched library of Gandhian writings and photography.  It can accommodate hundreds of students and visitors. The skills of homespun are taught and in-house shops sell the resulting khaddy garments.   Read on...

Newsletter #2: Women swimming, marching, playing for peace

I was also on a beach that day.  But it was not Nice, that beach of stones on the French Mediterranean.  I was on Wasaga, in the province of Ontario, Canada, a seemingly endless beach of white sand that arches like a crescent moon on the southern edge of Georgian Bay.  The water slopes gently and warmly, a boon to parents with little ones.  Some of those parents holding their babies’ toes into the placid surf wore black leggings and long skirts; some wore caps that blended into their swimwear at their shoulders.  Some played with their teenage children, throwing balls and Frisbees and tossing hula hoops. Some prepared fragrant picnics in the doorway of little cabanas perfect for changing out of wet clothing. Seamlessly making their way.  No police pointing guns down at them demanding that they disrobe in the name of ‘morals’ and ‘secularity’.  Click here to read more...

Partera Newsletter #1:  Three Muslim Women Heroes

Welcome to our first Newsletter!  By way of this regular post, we’d like to keep you up to date on what we at Partera are doing, upcoming events and opportunities, stories of our work in places like South Sudan and Uganda, Colombia, India and the Philippines, ways in which you can participate or lend your support...

It’s hard to decide what to share with you in this first newsletter...

But what we have decided to do is to introduce you to three women; we’ll call them Asma, Yamina and Fatima. 

Asma participated in a training in Sudan and became committed to becoming a peacemaker in her country, saying, “I want to be a peacemaker.  It is difficult.  We need to accept others and not care about skin colour and tribe. To be human, our humanity, that is the dream of everybody who believes in the human.”

In 2011, she played lead role in organising and training vast numbers of young people in a student movement called Girifna (Arabic for  “We’re fed up?”) The producers of Al-Jazeera’s English Activate heard about her and created a half-hour documentary called How to Mobilise a Million.  Go here to read more about these awesome women.

Partera Blog Archives

Power and the Feminine! 

Click here to

Postcard from Uganda #1: Proud to be a Girl!

Click here to read the whole story!  

Postcard from Uganda #2: Playing for our Lives

Click here to read more about 'Playing for our Lives'.


Postcard from Uganda #3: Silly Games?

Click here to read more about child soldiers...

North East India:  Saying YES to Peace

When I returned from North East India in December, I wrote a blog that I entitled ‘Extreme Everything’... This time as I return, I realise how close we travel to the edge of despair.  Click here to read more...

Turning Enemies into Neighbours and Friends - including:  Bikers for Peace  As part of its year-end reporting, the Washington Post listed seven conflict zones in the world that had gone, in its view, under-reported.  We had heard lots about Syria, Gaza, Ukraine and ISIS - and rightly so!  Click on the title above to read more.  

The Sudans, North and South Having spent a month a year for 8 years in Sudan and then South Sudan, the world's newest country, we have witnessed the transformation of a small group of 200 trained trainers into tens of thousands of activists working for non-violent change. Still, Darfur remains wracked with violence and South Sudan has made its own descent in to civil war, 10,000 people killed and more than 1.5 million displaced amidst battles between government and rebel forces. 

Refugees and Reluctant Hosts: Turning Enemies into Neighbours on the South Sudan-Uganda border. With the outbreak of civil war in South Sudan... CEPAD Uganda has been engaging host communities and the newly-arrived refugees in dialogue and mediation designed to reduce violence and de-escalate the tensions. Click here to learn more...

Keeping Girls in School Every week empty chairs in classrooms bear witness to the fact that girls do not want to have to deal with the embarrassment of stigmatised bloody clothing and stained wooden benches. Click here to read more!

India's Restive Northeast: Touring and Teaching for Peace  This year we will return to NE INdia to do two things: work with and train 50 Bikers for Peace in non-violence (a story in itself:  read about it here!) and to teach two courses (Human Rights and Conflict Transformation) in a new M.A. Programme in Peace Studies with young men and women from across the Northeast.   Click here to read more...



What You Honour Tonight

In November of 2010, Lee McKenna was awarded the YMCA Peace Medallion in recognition of her peacemaking work in war zones.  Her acceptance speech provides a snapshot of her work.  The script can be read here.

Lee McKenna YMCA Peace Medallion

'Taking our fear for a walk'
Confronting Global Crises:  A Non-violent Perspective

In November, 2011, Toronto was the site of a conference entitled 'Confronting Global Crises'.  Lee McKenna presented the closing keynote address on the topic of the importance of critical consciousness - for both accurate analysis and fear-dismantling - in the confronting of multiple and overlapping global crises.  The script can be read here