Community News & Events

Peace Day and the Fall Equinox: Shaping Peace Together

No To War, Bert Monterona, 2002.

Dear VAHMS Friends, 

Over the past several months we all have faced extraordinary challenges in our lives and our communities. We, at VAHMS, hope that you are all continuing to prioritize your health, safety, and wellbeing. 

Each year, International Day of Peace is observed around the world on the 21st of September. This day is dedicated to strengthening people’s commitment to seeking harmony and peace around the world. The theme this year, “Shaping peace together,” reminds us that as we struggle to adjust to our new normal, our voice and collective ideas should foster dialog and support for those who have faced discrimination and hatred all over the world. Additionally, and just one day after, the Earth enters the Fall Equinox which brings an equal amount of light and dark in a day. Being this a powerful change in nature, it will help us find balance and refocus our lives on our oneness and commonalities.

During the year, VAHMS has worked to improve its online presence and has been engaged in supporting important initiatives that many of our partner organizations have produced to raise a unified voice against racism and discrimination, especially during this health crises. Our website now features more events, VAHMS archives, and a special window where you can support VAHMS initiatives.

I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the entire VAHMS team and to you, for your continuous support as we bring VAHMS virtual projects such as VAHMSconnections, #YummiestAsianFood, Interconnected,  and the  2nd National Asian Heritage Month Symposium directly to your homes. Thank you for helping us make a difference. I hope you will enjoy the Autumnal season.

Warmest regards,

Leticia Sanchez, President of the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society

Peacebuilding, Bert Monterona, 2002

The 13th century Persian philosopher Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi believed that to attain true peace, it was crucial to celebrate the diversity of different cultures and religions, and to become a person who was open to new experiences.  Here is one of his quotes, especially relevant now: 

The Moon Said to the Stars

The Moon said to the Stars,
do not look at my dark side for it is unseen
by me,
and unworthy of love.
And the Stars said, I see your darkness
and light,
and love your contrasting nature.
Would it be love if I only love the half that
reflected my shining?
At a distance you only see my light.
Come closer and know that I am you.

-Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi

From Painting Peace​: ​Art in a Time of Global Crisis​, Artist Unknown

​T​he revered modern artist and Zen teacher Kazuaki Tanahashi ​uses his prose, poetry, letters, lyrics, and art, ​to ​work for peace and justice​ from his childhood in Japan to the present day.​ His work ​offers an inspirational account of how his art has been the expression of a life of social activism​. He urges us to “to realize the infinite value of each moment of your own life as well as of other beings, then to continue to act accordingly.” The following poem can be found in his book Painting Peace​: ​Art in a Time of Global Crisis​.​

Circle of Peace

A circle of peace.
From its brilliant green
I receive a hope for the future.
A circle of peace.
In its ocean blue
I deepen my commitment to community
A circle of peace.
In its sunlight orange
I collect energy for healing.
A circle of peace.
With its Crimson red
I carry passion to engage.
A circle of peace.
In its full rainbow
we find wholeness in our work.

-Kazuaki Tanahashi

All Out Peace Not War, Bert Monterona, 2015

Bert Monterona, VAHMS Director

Bert Monterona is a Filipino-Canadian visual artist living in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Monterona is actively involved as an educator, cultural worker, and active artist working in a wide variety of practices, including design, illustration, painting, murals, sculpture and installations.

About Bert Monterona’s Tapestry Paintings:

No To War, Oil on Canvas, 152 x 174 cm, 2002.
There were more than 150,000 evacuees and hundreds of lives lost when the government launched a war against  the groups  of Muslims and Christians who advocated armed struggle for political and social change. Both those who were victims of war, and the Mindanaoan people who wanted peace and protested the war, called for “No to War” and challenged people to participate in a series of Peace Talks. This painting shows a multi-sectoral population banding together to protest war and expound peace.

Peacebuilding, Oil on canvas, 152 x 174 cm, 2002.
As an artist, Bert believes that the arts play an important role in achieving peace in Mindanao. He thinks that art is one of the most effective tools in deepening the awareness of people to the war situation. He believes that as the communities and sectors interact, participate, and consult with each other in the peace building process, they will find effective tools to achieve peace on his island and his country.

All Out Peace Not War, acrylic on canvas tapestry, 178 x 186 cm, 2015
If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle; we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which the whole world is hungry of. Gandhi (1869 – 1948).