Students from St. Joseph's College School join high schoolers from across the Greater Toronto Area at a Nathan Phillips Square peace rally in Toronto Apr. 25, 2018. Photo by Jean Ko Din

Students rally in Toronto for peace mission

  • April 25, 2018

Violence ends where love begins. 

This was the resounding plea of more than 550 high school students at Nathan Phillips Square Wednesday morning. 

Students from 18 Catholic schools across the Greater Toronto Area gathered at City Hall April 25., asking for more peace-building efforts around the world. 

"Now more than ever to have a voice for peace is vital," said Luke Stocking, Central Ontario animator for Development and Peace. "I think it's great for Toronto to see here are young people saying 'no' to the violence that we saw in our city." 

Stocking, one of the organizers of the rally, said that in light of the van attack on Yonge Street Monday afternoon, it was even more important for them to be present and visible. 

"I think it shows that even though bad things happen in the world, there are always people who come together during these times to kind of show that's not what the world is and we will fight against that," said 16-year-old Grace Hickey from Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newmarket, Ont.

The rally began an the Peace Garden, on the northwest corner of Nathan Philips Square in downtown Toronto. The students reflected over the monument containing the eternal flame which was lit by Pope St. John Paul II from the Memorial for Peace in Hiroshima in 1981. 

"I hope that by looking at the flame that was originally lit by Pope John Paul, ignite a fire for peace in each and every one of you," said Stocking. 

By noon, the crowds made their way to the main square where representatives from each school presented a stack of postcards which contained the signatures of almost 20,000 students. 

In the postcards, signatories are calling for the Canadian government to commit to more peace-building efforts for women around the world. The signatures collected will be presented by a student delegation to the prime minister's office in Ottawa on May 2.

The student rally is part of the "Women at the Heart of Peace" campaign which was officially launched last November by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace - Caritas Canada. Development and Peace is the official international development arm of the Canadian Catholic Church. 

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