Robert (‘Bob’) Stewart passed away in September but was nominated for a Peace Medal for dedicating the past 23 years of his life to the cause of peace and peace education.
Originally from Fort Frances, Ontario and raised in Hamilton, Bob held many senior management positions in business and government during his career but his passion was peace education. That passion was ignited through his work with Rotary International.
Bob made many contributions to peace, including founding the Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace – www.peace.ca – an online hub of hundreds of peace-related sites and activities. Through the years, Bob engaged with thousands of peace leaders throughout the world.
Bob died at the age of 67, still in the midst of planning new peace projects and having completed a landmark book on peace in the community.
In recent years, despite dealing with the onset of cancer and sometimes-debilitating treatments, Bob continued to inspire others, developing peace programs that are already making significant impact. In his work and his relationships with others through community peace programs, Bob embodied the principles indicated by the YMCA acronym of PEACE – Participation, Empathy, Advocacy, Community and Empowerment.
Some of Bob’s recent activities included:
- Organizing and bringing together over 50 Rotarians, all of them Peace Leaders with Rotary International at a Peace Education Conference in Winnipeg, as well as an international online conference engaging Rotarians from around the world;
- Involvement at a Peace Building conference in Vancouver with Rotary International exploring climate change and the environment;
- Helping Rotary International gain greater clarity on its peace mission;
- Starting a series of ‘dinner meetings’ with peace leaders in the Moncton area, helping to create a collaborative approach in order to develop a ‘culture of peace’ in the area. Three such meetings have been held (one including Mayor Dawn Arnold) and have been a catalyst for continuing developments, including plans for a Peace Park in Moncton;
- Supporting the work of Anne-Marie Collette (Robert’s wife) in the development of peace education in schools;
- Authoring and publishing two books, both of which in different ways provide new ways to peace – “Becoming Love” and the “Rotarian Peace Leaders Collaborative”. The books offer a roadmap to any community group wishing to promote peace. The latter book was launched in Hamburg, Germany at the Rotarian International conference in May 2019, at a time when Robert’s health was in steep decline;
- Inspiring the creation of several ‘Peace Cafes’ in and around Moncton, providing opportunities for people to discuss issues of peace in an open and inviting environment;
- Attending gatherings of community peace leaders, providing inspiration to those who attended.
Robert worked collaboratively with so many organizations and individuals, and recognized that peace work must be carried out in partnership with others. He engaged with Rotary International, especially their designated peace leaders and ambassadors, with peace leaders in local communities, from Yellowknife and Calgary to Moncton, and with schools and businesses through his development of conferences, educational programs and peace cafés.
Robert has left a legacy of peace in many communities, including our own, and so we are pleased to honour him posthumously with a YMCA 2019 Peace Medal. We thank Robert for his dedication to peace… for sharing a message of peace and harmony both at home and abroad… for helping to build peace in our world.