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Citizen Summit Delegates Participate in Breakout Session

On Saturday November 15, the Mosaic Institute hosted its 2014 Citizen Summit on Women & Armed Conflict, a day-long student conference that explored issues relating to gender-based violence and women’s efforts to promote peace in Canada and around the world. The event featured a stellar line-up of distinguished speakers on such topics as sexual violence, conflicts and diaspora women, the roles of women in combat, and the effect of conflict on gender-based violence.  This year’s Citizen Summit differed from those in the past in that it did not focus on a single geographic location, but rather on an issue that affects people all over the world, including Canadians with connections to a multitude of regions overseas affected by conflict.  In that sense, the Citizen Summit provided a much-needed opportunity for inter-community learning and collaboration.

The Citizen Summit, held at the University of Toronto’s Hart House, brought together over 100 students and community members with a shared interest in women’s rights, peace building, and justice. 27,000 more people joined in the conversation via Twitter.

Conference highlights included keynote addresses by Ilana Landsberg-Lewis, Executive Director of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and Dr. Kim Stanton, Legal Director of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF). Both described their passionate involvement in work to empower women in conflict situations. Other notable speakers included Dr. James Maskalyk of MSF Canada, Dr. Jamie Rowen of the University of Toronto’s Centre for Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies, Commander Sandra Sukstorf of the Canadian Forces, and Dr. Amarnath Amarasingam of Wilfrid Laurier University. “The Citizen Summit was a great representation of what the Mosaic is all about, and touched on some of the major issues of today surrounding women and armed conflict,” said Citizen Summit attendee Emma Compeau, a Peace and Conflict Studies student at the University of Toronto.

This international examination of issues relating to women’s roles in armed conflict included a discussion of the issue of Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women, a contemporary phenomenon that many indigenous Canadians point to as an ongoing after-effect of the violence often used against indigenous women at the time of European Settlement. The Mosaic Institute welcomed four Aboriginal Elders to facilitate community gatherings which engaged conference delegates in meaningful discussion on the topic.

The Citizen Summit on Women & Armed Conflict was presented as part of the Mosaic Institute’s UofMosaic program. UofMosaic is the Mosaic Institute’s innovative peace building and leadership development program for university students across Canada. The program delivers programming at Ryerson University, York University, the University of Toronto, Concordia University, McGill University, and Simon Fraser University. UofMosaic is made possible by the generous financial support of BMO Financial Group. For more information, please contact Program Manager Jothi Shanmugam at js@mosaicinstitute.ca