The origins of Be the Peace Institute lie with Second Story Women's Centre, a women's resource centre serving Lunenburg and Queens Counties for 30+ years. After a number of initiatives to address gender-based violence in our local communities, Second Story received a 3-year grant from Status of Women Canada to develop a coordinated community response to violence against women and girls.
The project was named "Be the Peace… Make a Change," later shortened to Be the Peace. (see What's in a Name).
Co-coordinated by Sue Bookchin and Nancy Ross, and later with Helen Lanthier, the project activated a number of working groups and engagements to raise awareness, educate, and initiate action to prevent and address relationship violence in our communities. We hosted 3 Public Forums engaging over 150 people, and some of the 12 working groups involved: Engaging youth and initiatives in several schools about healthy relationships; gathering men as allies in ending violence against women; gathering women affected by violence in relationships for support and to advocate for change; collaborating with police and other justice system actors for more trauma-informed and potentially restorative responses; advocating for dedicated sexual assault services on the South Shore; and reinvigorating an interagency network of local service providers that later became a multi-level collaborative Hub. We also worked with provincial partners and the Domestic Violence Action Plan in the Dialogue on Domestic Violence and delivering the Neighbours, Friends and Families community presentations, and much more!
You can see videos, photos and reports from our Public Forums and activities on our archives page.
In 2015, the Be the Peace project funding ended. While we had finished the project, we had not finished the work. So much more is needed before we all live in a world where violence against women and girls no longer threatens their safety, security and peace.
And so we decided to create a formal organization, using the same name that had become well-known in our community, and in December 2015 registered as the non-profit, Be the Peace Institute. Our 7-member founding Board included the 3 coordinators of the previous project, Sue Bookchin, Nancy Ross and Helen Lanthier, as well as Sally Hutchinson, a long-time member of Second Story Women's Centre staff, plus attorney Heidi Walsh-Sampson, former MLA Pam Birdsall and treasurer/accountant Sylvia Booth. We continue to work closely with Second Story Women's Centre as a sister organization, as well as with many community partners.
At its core, the Be the Peace Project was a peace-building initiative. We wanted the project to take an "appreciative" approach - focusing on what we want, rather than what we don't want. When we considered what would be the opposite of violence, we decided it was peace.
The name, "Be the Peace . . . Make a Change" is a play on the well-known phrase of Mahatma Gandhi: "Be the change you wish to see in the world." While we aim to build peaceful relationships, peaceful families, peaceful schools and communities, we recognize that peace, first and foremost, is an inside job. It starts within each of us "waging peace" in our own hearts and minds. As we let go of judgements and blame, we can actually the peace we wish to see in our world and create the peace we wish to see in our world. e and create the peace we wish to see in our world.
| Our Logo|
Our BTP logo was designed by Hangama Amiri, award winning artist and former NSCAD Artist in Residence in Lunenburg, with assistance from graphic designer, Corey Isenor. For Hangama's art work, click here.
Sue Bookchin is co-founder and Executive Director of Be the Peace Institute. Having served on the Board of Second Story Women's Centre, and been part of many initiatives regarding gender-based violence, including co-coordinating Second Story's Be the Peace Project (2012-2015), Sue is an ideal person to serve in this capacity.
From an early age Sue was aware that males and females in our culture are treated differently in so many ways that deny girls and women full opportunity, credibility and choice. So achieving gender equity on multiple scales, from the individual to the systemic, has been a long-standing quest. When one considers the traumatic individual and complex social harms that arise from violence towards women, both on a local and global scale, it takes unwavering effort with many committed allies, including men and boys, to tip the scales. As well, it requires us learning to be true allies to those most vulnerable- our Indigenous and African Nova Scotian sisters, those who identify as LGBTQ2S, and many others who face increased risk of violence and marginalization.
Sue has a 20-year background as a facilitator, trainer and coach working in a variety of sectors with individuals, companies and teams, and brings those skills to community and partner engagement, and collaborative efforts to substantively address the issues. For her, it is a privilege to be in service to community and to social change that honours women; that values their unique and enduring contributions to a just and life-nurturing world; that cares enough to end violence against them. She is moved and humbled by the people who have shared their stories – women and men. ”As we come together for meaningful and engaging conversations and try deeply to understand ourselves, one another and the complex systems we inhabit, we can, together, find the pathways for positive and peaceful change. Let us rise up together and stand for peace and justice for all.”
Stacey’s work history has included gender equity and freedom from violence initiatives; health equity and accessibility; education; community development; and research, writing and project coordination in the public, non-profit sector. As former co-coordinator of Sexual Assault Services for Lunenburg and Queens (SASLQ), a grant project of Second Story Women’s Centre and Harbour House, she collaborated with key community partners to design and implement survivor-centred services and supports for victims of sexualized violence.
Stacey’s background in education with a BAH, BEd and MEd, led her from the classroom to broader applications in her home community, working with adults and adolescents who have not benefitted from the mainstream education system. Her term chairing the Lunenburg County Community Health Board solidified her commitment to community health, access to services, and implications of social determinants of health on marginalized and underserved populations in this county. As co-Chair of the Greater Petite Area Community Association, a community-based society focused on sustaining a local elementary school in the area, she was instrumental in developing a proposal for a community hub school model as well as turning a brown space into a community park in her hometown of Petite Riviere.
A passionate feminist and mother of three, Stacey actively supported regulation of midwifery within the mainstream healthcare system, access to breastfeeding support and ongoing efforts to eradicate violence and sexual violence against women and girls in Lunenburg County. Stacey also co-coordinated the first project of Be the Peace Institute, the “Power of Our Voices,” funded through Justice Canada.
Helen is a retired elementary school principal and an activist. She was the Administrative Coordinator of Second Story Women's Centre for more than two years. During that time, she worked closely with staff and members of the Social Action Committee on the Making Change initiative. She has served as a member of the Board of Directors and is one of the lead organizers of the One Billion Rising events.
Helen believes that if we are to end violence in our communities, we must challenge the systems that perpetuate it and be innovative in collaborating with others to address it.
She is also active in other community organizations. She is a member of the South Shore Housing Action Coalition, a member of the Board of Directors of the Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia, and a member of the South Shore Chapter of the Council of Canadians.
Shauna joined BTPI as our trusty bookkeeper in March 2018. She graduated from Saint Mary's University with a Bachelor of Commerce major in Accounting, and started her accounting career in Yellowknife. Born and raised in Garden Lots, Lunenburg County, Shauna feels so fortunate to be able to be in Nova Scotia, doing meaningful work in her own community and helping others whenever she can. She is passionate about her financial work, and balances that with being the devoted mom of three young children.