Former senator and retired general Romeo Dallaire tapped for Calgary Peace Prize

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By: Damien Wood

There’s no such thing as a local issue anymore, says the Calgary Centre for Global Community’s executive director.

Gurbir Sandhu, in telling the Sun retired Lt.-Gen., former senator and current humanitarian Roméo Dallaire will be the centre’s 2015 Calgary Peace Prize recipient, said all issues are inter-connected.

“We do not live in isolation,” Sandhu said.

And so the hope is to start a conversation here about the great efforts being made out there.

She said “it’s all about inspiring hope in our communities.”

Dallaire’s known for efforts surrounding the Rwandan Genocide and child soldiers, including The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and his books, Shake Hands with the Devil and They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children

Bringing in Dallaire to accept the award April 9 at the Magnolia Banquet Hall in northeast Calgary, and do a presentation and Q&A session on child soldiers is something the centre’s committee is very excited for.

Sandhu said the committee had nominations for about a dozen possible recipients this year, and Dallaire was the top of that list.

“He’s a great Canadian hero and a great human being recognized all over the world,” she said.

The centre’s past recipients of the award include Dr. Tadatoshi Akiba, Prince El Hassan bin Talal, Louise Arbour, Sally Armstrong, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, Emmanuel Jal and Dr. Samantha Nutt.

Further information can be found at calgarycgc.org/calgary-peace-prize.html

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On Twitter: @SUNDamienWood

Dallaire: Radical groups recruiting children in Canada

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By: Davene Jeffery

A program created to stop the recruitment and indoctrination of child soldiers is also helping Halifax police deal with gangs and with the radicalization of youth here, Romeo Dallaire says.

The former senator, retired lieutenant-general and founder of the Child Soldiers Initiative spoke to a large crowd at Citadel High School Tueday night about ending the use of children as weapons of war.

The Initiative, based at Dalhousie University, has developed training programs that help military forces facing child soldiers in conflicts to de-escalate situations, as well as a school curriculum to teach young children about resisting indoctrination.

However, it is also helping police in this country prevent young people from joining radical groups like ISIS.

“They are recruiting here,” Dallaire said.

“There are child soldiers being created in this country.”

These groups target kids who are disenfranchised, or who have been bullied or who can’t see where they are going, he said.

He said his organization is looking at developing processes to help prevent these young people from being sucked in by radicals.

Dallaire’s organization is also working on a set of tools to help municipal police forces in this country, said initiative executive director Shelly Whitman.

“Our work is very practical, scenario-based training,” she said.

“What we try to do is create an awareness of the context and then give tools in terms of what they can do in improving their interactions with youth.”

Dallaire said he is not against organizations that are helping rehabilitate former child soldiers, but these groups are not stopping armed groups from using children to help them fight.

They are spending billions of dollars, but the problem is not going away, he said.

There are currently seven states and about 50 non-state groups around the world using children as weapons.

And the numbers of child soldiers around the world is growing, he said.

While most security forces train their members to see child soldiers as just another combatant, Dallaire says he wants to change that.

“We believe that children are human.”

“We don’t want soldiers killing kids.”

Dallaire said the training program his organization has developed is tactical, scenario-based and helps teach soldiers how to diffuse situations.

He said he is also encouraging the use of female soldiers on the front lines, because the presence of women has been shown to help diffuse child soldiers.

But these training programs are expense.

“I need money,” Dallaire told the crowd.

The initiative currently has an annual budget of about $1.2 million a year, Whitman said.

“It’s been steadily growing, but we have a lot of requests for our work.”

More information about the initiative can be found online at childsoldiers.org.

Roméo Dallaire delivers impressive speech on Child Soldiers

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By: Ray Bradshaw

HALIFAX – Roméo Dallaire put PTSD on the map. The former Canadian Forces Lieutenant-General and later Senator witnessed unspeakable horrors first hand. He was commander of United Nations Rwanda mission during the genocide in 1994. In just over three months of ethnic slaughter – nearly one million people were butchered.

Dallaire has since made it his ultimate mission to campaign against the use of children as weapons of war and that’s the message he brought with him to 500 people at the Spatz Theatre at Citadel High Tuesday night.

Roméo Dallaire is passionate about his project: the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative. His goal is to end the use and recruitment of child soldiers around the world. He’s so dedicated to the effort, he resigned as a Senator to raise awareness.

“Those children are…children,” he told the audience, “and they’re being used as simply instruments of war, by adults.”

Dallaire witnessed the genocide in Rwanda in 1993-94 as commander of the U.N Rwanda mission. He captivated the audience at Citadel High School in Halifax – with a gripping speech – keeping everyone’s attention, including students from Horton District High in the Annapolis Valley.

“He’s just so incredible to listen to, says Mackenzie Pardy, a Grade 12 student at Horton. She adds, “He’s endured so much and he’s still so optimistic and still puts so much effort into fighting this issue and I think that’s important to see as teenagers.”

On stage, Dallaire continues to talk about child soldiers. “Some of them don’t even remember what a family was because they were abducted at 8 or 9 years old,” says Dallaire.

Despite his efforts and the efforts of others, child soldier recruitment is growing he says. “It is spreading and it is in our own country and if we don’t take preventive measures and if we don’t train people how to handle the situation, it’s going to continue to grow.”

Dallaire’s way of fighting back is simple, but it requires money. “Wouldn’t it be smarter to provide security for those schools where they knew something was happening and prevent them from being recruited in the first place” he tells the audience.

Dallaire’s organization is helping to combat the recruiters. He says “We built the training program for military and police.”

Dallaire’s organization also works with Dalhousie University which notes, not every child soldier carries a gun. “It’s from porters to carrying ammunition, to carrying water to ultimately being sex slaves and bush wives,” says Dallaire.

Horton High students have been coming to hear Dallaire speak since 2010 and he’s having an effect on them. “Many of them leave saying this is one of their most memorable moments of high school – to hear such a great humanitarian speak,” says Renata Verri, a History teacher at Horton High.

 

Romeo Dallaire to speak at Halifax event Tuesday night

Tue, Mar 10 – Roméo Dallaire has devoted his life’s work to one mission: to put an end to the use and recruitment of child soldiers. The retired Lieutenant-General about talks about what why he’s so passionate about this cause – and what needs to be done to stop this form of child abuse.