Canada 5 July: St. John's

Honouring Health, Ecology & Justice in St. John's

We began our day at the Mercy Centre for Ecology and Justice summer camp. This summer camp gives children an opportunity to connect with the natural world. They plant seeds, walk in nature and learn all about the protection and preservation of the earth.

Abhijit taught the children the Peace Run motto, "Peace Begins with Me!"

Of course, everyone got a chance to hold the Peace Torch and add their wishes for peace.

The children from the summer camp performed a beautiful song for us all called Light a Candle for Peace.

The Torch-Bearer Award was presented to the Mercy Centre for Ecology and Justice for all of their hard work and dedication in raising awareness about environmental causes. Through their summer camp programs, their organic vegetable garden project and various events that are hosted at the centre, they connect the local community in caring for our planet.

Sister Mary is the director of the Mercy Centre for Ecology and Justice. She began the ceremony with a beautiful moment of silence in which we took a moment to connect with the nature around us and to express gratitude for that feeling.

Rita Janes is the Chair of the Board of Directors at the Mercy Centre.

Sister Marcella, who also works at The Mercy Centre, held up a beautiful piece of art that the summer camp group created.

Arjun and Shobha Rayapudi were presented with the Torch-Bearer Award. They are the Founders of The Gift of Health, a non-profit group that empowers and educates people about the connection between food choices and health. They have helped hundreds of people to enjoy improved health through plant-based living. In addition to facilitating plant-based workshops, they also create a support system for people to continue on their heath journey, including potlucks in their home in the Burin Peninsula. Arjun is a surgeon and plant-based nutritionist, he says that more than 80% of the health issues that he sees are due to poor diet and lifestyle choices.

Shobha is a physician and epidemiologist, she eloquently explained the connection between health and world peace:

"When I'm free of pain, when I'm free of inflammation, when I'm free of disease, that's when I can have better relationships with my family, with my partner, with the people around in the community, and that's how peace starts."

VOCM and NTV news were at the event conducting interviews, some of the children talked about their experience at the Mercy Centre summer camp.

Jayashri, visiting from New York, thanked our hosts and our Torch-Bearer Award recipients and stated that the narrative that we see on the nightly news does not reflect what we see when we go out into our own communities and connect with the people there.

In the back yard of The Mercy Centre, they have created "The Cosmic Walk" which takes one through a journey of the evolutionary origins of the universe.

There were more wishes for peace...

... and lots of beautiful smiles!

We took the torch for a run all around the back yard!

Brahmacharini, our local Peace Run coordinator, is actually the artist who painted and decorated the Mary grotto at the Mercy Centre.

Arjun and Shobha lead the team on a scenic run along Rennie's River Trail.

We were joined by their lovely son, Shakti, who is a fantastic runner.

Purnakama is a Peace Runner visiting all the way from Winnipeg.

We stopped to take in the view of the waterfall- pure joy!

Utsahi joined us on our final stretch into Bannerman Park.

We concluded the run by singing the Peace Run song and holding the torch all together.

Liz Reynolds, our honorary Peace Run team captain, helped the team get where we needed to go on time.

The team stopped for delicious vegan gelato at The Parlour and some of the staff members held the torch.

Mmm...

At the end of the day, we brought the torch over to Cape Spear, the easternmost point of North America.

It was gorgeous and we even saw some whales!