Visitors to the city’s waterfront will now see a new monument overlooking Lake Superior celebrating peace.
The Rotary Clubs of Thunder Bay held the formal dedication to their new peace pole, which is located on Saul Laskin Drive in Prince Arthur’s Landing at a ceremony on Saturday.
The event coincided with the United Nations International Day of Peace, which is held annually since 2001 on September 21. The date provided Irene Sottile, past president of the Fort William Rotary Club and chair of the Peace Pole Committee, with an opportunity to unveil the city’s newest monument to the community.
“It’s a worldwide symbol,” Sottile explained. “There are over 250,000 peace poles all over the world to promote peace all over the world. It’s also very important for the rotary organization because the rotary is known for promoting peace, goodwill and understanding amongst all nations and people.”
The idea for a peace pole in Thunder Bay first arose in 2005, when the local groups wanted to celebrate the 100th anniversary of rotary. The group elected to wait until the completion of the Prince Arthur’s Landing project to install the pole, which overlooks the harbour and the iconic Sleeping Giant.
The pole is inscribed with “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” and is written in both English and French, as well as Ojibwa.
Sottile stressed that the peace pole is not singularly celebrating world peace, but added that it also can have a much more personal meaning.
“There are so many ways to reflect on peace, such as peace for yourself, your family, your community, and the world,” she said. “Peace can be interpreted in so many different ways, just by laughing and singing every day or doing a kind deed and helping somebody who needs some peace.”
Attending the dedication was Thunder Bay mayor Keith Hobbs, as well as Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer and Thunder Bay-Rainy River MP John Rafferty.
The ceremony celebrated diversity, as many different Thunder Bay international groups were represented.
City of Thunder Bay Aboriginal liaison Ann Magiskan led a smudging ceremony, and 11-year-old Bryndis Ventrudo, a Grade 6 student at St. Martin school, performed a poetry recital.
For the mayor, celebration of diversity on an international day celebrating peace and acceptance was an ideal occasion.
“On an International Day of Peace I think it is very fitting. There is so much strife in the world right now and Thunder Bay is such a peaceful community and Canada is such a peaceful country,” Hobbs said.
“It was great to see all the diverse people out here today. We are the sixth most diverse city of our size in North America, and it was great to see we were so well-represented by the world.”
The peace pole now gives Rotarians a permanent location to mark future celebrations of the day.
“This is just the very first of what will be an annual peace day event that the Rotarians of Thunder Bay will hold for the community,” Sottile said.