YMCA Peace Week

YMCA Peace Week is a time when we celebrate the presence of peace in our communities, and reflect on the peace-building work that happens all year both inside and outside the YMCA.

The YMCA believes peace is more than the absence of violence and conflict. Peace is the ongoing work of building and rebuilding conditions of fairness, inclusion, empathy, security, and respect for diversity.

YMCA Peace Week calls people to:  Build community. Act for peace.

When we act for peace, together we build stronger and healthier communities.

YMCA Peace Breakfast

As part of YMCA Peace Week, YMCAs across Canada presented the YMCA Peace Medal to individuals or groups who, without any special resources, status, wealth or position, demonstrate a commitment to the values of P-E-A-C-E through contributions made within their local, national or global community.

Youth Coffee House

The YMCAs of New Brunswick are excited to have collaborated for the 1st Annual Youth Coffee House for Peace! Youth in Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton performed during Peace Week 2017.  

Meet our 2017 Peace Week Medal Winners!

  • Medallion 1
    Melissa Benoit

    Greater Moncton is fortunate to have countless volunteers who lend a hand to help others. Our community is especially blessed with some individuals whose volunteer efforts go above and beyond expectations.

    Melissa Benoit is one of those wonderful souls whose energy for giving seems to know no bounds, whose drive is seemingly relentless and who is constantly seeking innovative ways to serve, especially to help the more vulnerable in our population.

    The Dieppe mom works full-time as a pharmacy technician instructor at NBCC Moncton but she doesn’t take much of a break in her downtime.

    This summer, she began volunteering with the YMCA’s Plusone mentoring program, one of a group of trained volunteer mentors working with at-risk youth aged 10 to 17. The program aims to change behaviours, attitudes and choices in young people, helping them to develop their interests and empowering them to reach their full potential.

    Melissa also volunteered this summer with the Y’s Adult Day Program, which is offered to adults with differing physical or intellectual abilities from Cerebral Palsy to dementia. Whether baking cupcakes, helping out with summer carnival games or just hanging out with the participants, her warm spirit—and great cooking—made a big impact on everyone involved.

    But don’t get the impression this summer was Melissa’s first foray into volunteering.

    About three years ago, she helped to coordinate a Christmas basket program at Moncton’s Glad Tidings Church for those in need. The baskets included a full turkey dinner, as well as toiletries, pajamas, a board game, and other goodies.

    In partnership with Glad Tidings and a great group of friends and community partners, Melissa also organized an annual Christmas party in Moncton’s Beechwood neighbourhood about three years ago. The event sees families enjoy cookies, cupcakes, treat bags—even a visit from Santa.

    And there’s more!

    Melissa also generously volunteers her time with the Salvation Army’s Christmas Kettle Campaign, as well as its children and youth outreach programs during the summer months. You’ll also find her volunteering regularly as a cook for the Saturday morning community breakfast at St. George’s Church.

    One of the other ways Melissa has gone the extra mile for her community is by lending a hand to a family in Moncton’s Ackman Court neighbourhood. She began volunteering in the area about two-and-a-half years ago, initially as a cook for a YMCA outreach program.

    Though the program ended, she continued to keep in touch with a single mother and her children from the neighbourhood, offering to do what she could. When the woman’s oldest son expressed interest in hockey, Melissa worked to access funding for the boy’s gear and hockey fees, and even helped out with driving the family to and from practices and games, or taking the family on trips to the beach in the summer.

    Melissa’s says her desire to help others stems from her own childhood in Saint John, where she was a “latch-key kid” but one who had a great life. She says she felt rich, not because her single mother could afford any extras, but because both her mom and grandmother had hearts “as big as the world”, and taught her the importance of lifting others up whenever and wherever possible.

    Congratulations to Melissa Benoit for going above the call of duty in contributing to a more peaceful community and world!

  • Medallion 2
    Outdoor Grit

    Sometimes collaboration and persistence can go a long way in the advancement of peace.Out

    In 2015, Kai Gosling, Richard Babineau and Aaron Shantz teamed up on an innovative project. Each was working with youth in a different capacity — Kai as the Anglophone East School District’s YOU Turns Strategic Coordinator for At-Risk Youth; Richard as an RCMP Community Program Officer; and Aaron in the area of food security in the region.

    The trio recognized that many local teen boys, a lot of whom had been or were involved with the criminal justice system, had never had the opportunity to experience life beyond the confines of their immediate inner-city boundaries. The youth workers felt an outdoor wilderness experience might provide an opportunity for the development of the boys’ life and leadership skills, while instilling values and morals relating to citizenship with the goal of avoiding further criminal behaviour.

    As a result, Gosling, Babineau and Shantz created a program called Outdoor Grit. The initiative has seen the trio lead small groups of teenage boys in a week-long camping, canoeing and leadership skill expedition in New Brunswick’s National Parks over each of the past two summers.  Partnering with the United Way and several other community groups, Gosling, Babineau and Shantz were able to purchase camping supplies, food and cover the logistical fees for the experiential educational adventure.

    The well-planned and implemented wilderness program helped the youth learn tools of resilience and citizenship outside the academic setting, in nature’s classroom. Their lessons related to the value of hard work to achieve a goal, understanding what can be accomplished when everyone works together and respecting the diversity of others. By taking on and overcoming challenges—from 17-kilometre hikes, rowing for hours against the tide and a 14-kilometre march in the sand—the young men realized they had to prepare and work together to be successful. At night, around the campfire, they learned about empathy and the importance of supporting each other as they discussed their personal challenges, which ranged from complex home situations, difficulties with the law, addictions and mental health conditions. They realized that everyone needs to accept support and is capable of providing support. The youth were empowered by the learnings, which they will use throughout their lives.

    As a result of the positive impact and success of Outdoor Grit, an outdoor wilderness program was piloted this past summer for girls. A collaboration of prominent female mentors, supported again by the United Way and community partnerships, led a group of at-risk girls on an excursion into nature.

    The Outdoor Grit experiential wilderness adventure program has been carefully documented, giving this awesome program model a chance to be shared far and wide.

    Congratulations, Kai Gosling, Richard Babineau and Aaron Shantz for developing an outstanding program that has such potential for creating brighter futures for at-risk youth and bringing positive, peaceful change to our community and potentially many others!