Canada 11 July: Winnipeg, MB

Making new friends in "Friendly Manitoba"!

This morning we jogged over to Vimy Ridge Park where we met with Winnipeg's own Fred Penner!

Fred Penner is a beloved children's entertainer who is a prolific musician and also hosted a hit show called "Fred Penner's Place" from 1985-1997. He is well-known for his catchy and heartfelt songs and his ability to connect with his audience in a fun and authentic way.

He introduced himself to our team and even greeted some of our international members in their native languages.

We made a short presentation, singing our songs and explaining the background of the Peace Run. Then we sang him a customised version of one of his most popular songs "sandwiches" with ukulele, guitar and harmonica accompaniment.

He expressed to us his own feelings about peace, and his own life philosophy: "never underestimate your ability to make a difference in the life of a child."

We were treated to a wonderful new song called "Respect" which beautifully captured many of the themes of the Peace Run!

Fred was presented with the Torch-Bearer Award for his significant contributions to children's entertainment as well as his charity work. Even as he nears 70 years old, he shows no sign of slowing down and continues to create music prolifically and serve the world in so many ways.

Brahmata, who grew up watching Fred Penner's Place and listening to his music, spoke about the positive impact that his work had on an entire generation of children.

Salil presented him with a beautiful print of Sri Chinmoy's artwork entitiled "Peace Feeds The Children".

He looked at our route to see if he could meet with us again at some point in our journey. He has a lot of travelling ahead of him as well. We hope to see you soon Fred!

The perfect ending to the ceremony was when he played a lovely version of the song "Shenandoah" on his harmonica for us. Arpan's eyes lit up when Fred opened the trunk of his car and revealed his collection of harmonicas! The two of them jammed for a while playing classics such as "This Land is Your Land".

We had such a lovely morning together that no one wanted to leave. Fred kindly gave us a parting gift, a few of his CDs which we will definitely enjoy while we're on the road!

Pavaka's relatives from Winnipeg joined us at the park on his last day of the Peace Run.

The new generation of peace makers!

We went to Ecole Victoria Albert School, where Purnakama (or Miss Rajna) teaches music. She introduced the Peace Run to her students.

Then we ran the torch over to a nearby park.

We introduced ourselves in the usual way, with the country guessing game!

Arpan's clue is the easiest, he holds up the torch like the Statue of Liberty and the children know that he is from New York right away.

Puroga from Hungary asks, "How do you feel when you haven't eaten lunch?"

Zuska's is a little more difficult...

"It starts with a 'C' and ends with Republic"

In Harita's country, there are more sheep than people!

Nripatri's home city of Vancouver, BC is a little closer by.

Purnakama taught the children our World Harmony Run song as well as the fun actions!

Then we felt peace inside of our hearts for a moment.

Jamie, a local Peace Runner, joined us for all of the day's events.

The skits are always a hit!

We presented a certrificate of appreciation to the CSI Summer Learning Program.

Tavishi offers the school one of Sri Chinmoy's paintings which includes the word "Oneness" in several different languages at the bottom.

We ended with the passing of the torch.

These twins wanted to hold the torch together.

Vani, 11 years old, is another one of our local Winnipeg Peace Runners, we loved having her on the team!

We were thrilled that Pratyaya from Ottawa joined us for the day as well.

Harita held the torch one more time before heading to the airport for the Scandinavian Peace Run. She is running from Hamburg, Germany to St. Petersburg, Russia before returning to Montreal for the final strech of the North American Peace Run. Yay Harita!

Time for soccer! Carlos shows the kids his skills.

Sanaz always makes new friends very easily.

We walked a few blocks with the torch over to Winnipeg City Hall.

Looking good for our meeting with the Mayor.

High-fives from The Friendly Giant.

The final sprint onto the front steps of City Hall.

We handed the torch to Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.

He offered us some welcoming words and then Salil introduced the Peace Run.

We sang our song for him accompanied by our new choir members in orange shirts.

Purnakama presented him with our Certificate of Appreciation and thanked him for his work.

He was very friendly and talkative.

He spoke about the Peace Run, “What I love is that the Peace Run speaks to us in values and universal truths that unite people from around the world” and about his own city, "There is more that unites us, as a people, than divides us."

He conversed with the children and encouraged them to consider a future career in politics. “Now you’re all running, but I hope that one day you will run for office.”

Mayor Bowman shook hands with each person before departing. The children were very excited to have met him.

The local media came out as well. Salil was interviewed for CTV and Pavaka was interviewed by the CBC.

We went back to Ecole Victoria Albert School to meet with some of the younger students.

Purnakama did what she does best, teaching songs to the children.

Pierre and his new friend tried out a special running style...

Then we took a group shot and the team hit the road again.

We went to "The Forks", where the Assiniboine and the Red River meet. In Aboriginal culture, the convergence of two rivers is a sacred meeting place.

Taking a little walk around the area.

We shared the torch with many nice people that we met at The Forks in the afternoon.

Arnold Parke told us that he was the dart champion in 1981 and 1982 at the Windy City Open in Chicago.

Winnipeg was dedicated as a Sri Chinmoy Peace City on October 14, 1992. We visited the commemorative plaque near the river.

Shishir, who helped to write the wording on the plaque at the time, read it out loud for us.

Winnipeg means "Muddy Waters" in the Cree language.

New buddies relaxing after an eventful day.

Yet another spontaneous jam session broke out at "The Busk Stop", we have a very musical team this year.

On our last day in Western Canada, we are saying goodbye to a few runners but we are also welcoming new team members as the team ventures back down into the USA. Tomorrow they will reach North Dakota and they will return to Eastern Canada on July 28th.

Purnakama's parting gift was a huge stuffed moose. How Canadian!

A special thank you to Pat Law who we met in Poplar Point on Sunday. Your generostiy and words of encouragement are very much appreciated.