On the evening of April 28th, the 2021 WFMC World Peace Award was presented to General John de Chastelain for his commitment to peace in Northern Ireland.
From 1997 to 2011 General de Chastelain served as Chair of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). The Commission facilitated the decommissioning of arms and reported to the parties to the Good Friday Agreement until March 2011.
General de Chastelain’s career highlights also include service as Deputy Chief of Staff of the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and Commander of the Canadian contingent there; as Commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada; as Ambassador of Canada to the United States, and as Chief of Defence Staff.
The online event was hosted by Rev. Karen Hamilton, Executive Chair of WFMC, and began with WFMC’s National President Dr. Walter Dorn reflecting on what made General de Chastelain a worthy recipient of the World Peace Award.
General de Chastelain then offered remarks and anecdotes on his career as a soldier working towards peace and the impact of peace on the local community and individual.
Then Dr. Eamonn McKee, Ambassador of Ireland to Canada, spoke about what General de Chastelain’s efforts meant to Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement, along with the current situation.
Finally, Monique Cuillerier, Membership and Communications Director of WFMC, connected the accomplishments of General de Chastelain to the advocacy of World Federalists using examples from WFMC’s current advocacy and programs including peacekeeping, international justice, and women, peace and security.
As General de Chastelain kindly remarked, “Promoting, achieving and maintaining peace in the world has been vitally important in the past and it remains so today. The work of the World Federalist Movement continues to be a major contributor to that effort.
The event concluded with questions from the audience.
WFMC presents the World Peace Award annually or every second year. Previous recipients have included Lester Pearson, Stephen Lewis, Flora MacDonald, and Louise Arbour.
A complete list of past recipients, dating back to 1972, is available on the WFMC website (at wfmcanada.org/about/world-peace-award/).
In 1972, the Executive of the World Federalists of Canada adopted a proposal, put forward by the Brantford Branch, that the organization establish a peace award.
The idea was introduced by Richard Pilant, who wrote:
“The stereotype of the military hero is outmoded today… We must, with due regard to our individual and collective security… construct a new model— that of the world peace hero… We feel that every day it becomes more imperative that we honour those among us who have the courage and the competence to lead us and our government so skillfully… We must honour those who show us how to help our neighbour nations around the world show us how to understand their problems and policies, so that we may all move forward harmoniously…”