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Vancouverite wins peacemaker award

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Vancouver, April 28 – Mordecai Briemberg, retired Douglas College ESL teacher and well-known campaigner for the rights of Palestinians and an end to war and racism, won the YMCA’s Power of Peace Award on the weekend.

The YMCA of Greater Vancouver picked Briemberg for the International Peacemaker award from a field of nine nominees to honour people working to change the world.

Nominated by Stopwar.ca, Vancouver’s largest anti-war coalition, Briemberg, 69, traces his life-long effort for peace back to the 1950s when as a Rhodes scholar he studied in England and was inspired by Bertrand Russell, then in his 90s, engaging in civil disobedience against nuclear weapons.

While teaching sociology at Simon Fraser University in the 1960s, Briemberg helped establish the Committee to Aid War Objectors to provide support for American war resisters seeking refuge in Canada. His anti-nuclear weapon campaigns continued in Vancouver with End the Arms Race and the efforts to free jailed Israeli nuclear program whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu.

To Briemberg, work to support Palestinians in accordance with international law, human rights laws, and United Nations resolutions on the conflict, is simply consistent with the moral values and idealism imparted to him by his Jewish parents while growing up in Edmonton.

Briemberg went on to help found the Canada-Palestine Network (CanPalNet) and served on the board of the Near East Cultural and Educational Foundation whose projects include providing mental health services for Palestinian children traumatized by violence. Briemberg’s commitment to education extends beyond the classroom. Briemberg helped found a newspaper called the Western Voice and is now a host of Co-op Radio’s Redeye program.

The YMCA’s peace awards began 20 years ago to recognize individuals who are “proof that each of us has the power to create a more peaceful world and that every individual effort can make a difference.” Since 1987, more than 900 individuals and groups across the country have received YMCA peace medallions for work locally, with youth and internationally.

Briemberg is currently being sued by Canwest Global, owners of The Vancouver Sun and The Province, for producing a parody of The Sun and its pro-Israel editorial policies. Though Briemberg had nothing to do with the production of the parody, Canwest cited his pro-Palestinian work as the reason he is being sued. The Seriously Free Speech Committee has been formed in support and to help raise funds for his defence. For more information: www.seriouslyfreespeech.ca

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