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Posted by on Sep 23, 2014 in General News, Uncategorized

Outstanding Women Awards from Canadian Voice of Women for Peace.

Canadian Voice of Women for Peace chooses outstanding women to be awarded for their activism in honour of 3 unforgettable VOW women of the past.  The awards are:

The Shirley Farlinger Award for Peace Writings

Shirley Farlinger2

Shirley’s peace activism, like her life, was filled with passion. It was no less than seeking to build a culture of peace! For example, along with her many friends such as those in Canadian Voice of Women for Peace VOW), she lobbied steadily for the abolition of war and its system. With VOW, she travelled often to the UN, mostly to its headquarters in New York but also to Vienna and Geneva. She took these opportunities to push for various disarmament issues and, it seemed to her travel mates, to effortlessly produce fulsome reports of many of these international encounters. In the midst of this, Shirley took time out (1993) to learn more and enrolled in the fledgling European Peace University based in a beautiful castle in a colourful town not far from Vienna. Here she thrived on the teachings of itinerant scholars from far and wide, including the “Father of Peace Research” Johann Galtung.

Perhaps equally, she wore a feminist hat which on several occasions expressed itself through her witty plays on the long overdue victories of Canadian women being rightfully declared persons, and the more recent right of women, globally, to be included in decision-making related to all aspects of peace building – from prevention to post conflict reconstruction. These plays stand as examples of resources Shirley’s creative self contributed to the cause. One of the latest was a package of greeting cards with satirical, illustrated messages meant to wake us up about environmental threats. She was the change she wanted to see – zealous, optimistic, studious, creative and unfailingly supportive to companions in this mammoth struggle for a peaceful world. But, central to these many gifts was her belief in the power of the pen honed by degrees in both English and journalism . Upon her death in 2012, three bulging binders holding copies of her urgent letters to newspaper editors confirm her long-held, genuine and powerful drive to write for positive, peaceful change.


The Muriel Duckworth Award for Peace Activism

Muriel Duckworth

Muriel Duckworth lived a life of peace activism. Raised in rural Quebec, she went to McGill University in Montreal, where she joined The Student Christian Movement, which fostered the development of her own independent thinking and her search for truth. Subsequently, with her husband Jack, she attended the Union Theological Seminary in New York (UTS), where she embraced the Social Gospel movement which provided social services and adult education in an effort to improve people’s lives. Eventually, she became a practicing Quaker, a denomination committed to non-violence.

Muriel was a founder of the Nova Scotia Voice of Women for Peace in 1962, and the President of National V​OW​

from 1967 to 1971, and she remained an active member of VOW for the rest of her life. The main peace issue at the time of her Presidency was VOW’s opposition to the Vietnam War. In keeping with VOW’s objective of making connections with women in countries that are deemed “the enemy”, Muriel helped arrange for two delegations of Vietnamese women to visit Canada.

​  The Vietnamese women traveled across Canada just north of the US border, and ​US women would come across the border to meet the Vietnamese ‘enemies’ who couldn’t enter the States.

She organized and attended international conferences on behalf of VOW and she researched, organized, demonstrated, and spoke out not only on peace, disarmament, and the nuclear threat, but also on racism, adult education, women’s rights and women’s voices. In 1971, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she helped create​ an organization of community groups, Movement for Citizens’ Voice and Action (MOVE), which focused on issues of education, housing social assistance and municipal planning, and she was the director or MOVE for two years.

She was also a founding member of Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (CRIAW) and served as CRIAW’s President from 1979 to 1980. In 1974 and 1978 she was the first woman candidate for the Nova Scotia Legislature, running for the NDP. Later in life, she helped start, and performed with, the Nova Scotia Raging Grannies, singing songs for peace and social justice.

Muriel gained many awards and recognition for her lifetime of activism. In addition to 10 honorary degrees, she received the Order of Canada, the Governor General’s​ A​ward in Commemoration of the Persons Case and the Pearson Medal of Peace. In celebration of her 100th birthday, Oxfam Canada established the Jack and Muriel Duckworth Fund for Active Global Citizenship in recognition of Muriel and her late husband’s leadership in working for social justice. In 2009, Muriel was awarded a posthumous Order of Nova Scotia.

Inspired by her mother’s can-do attitude and social activism, grieving the loss through war of her brother, overcoming her own discomfort with speaking publicly, being compelled to action by her strong belief that women’s voices for peace must be heard, enduring being disrespected because she was a women, demonstrating in public when that was unheard of, speaking her mind on every social and political aspect of creating peace, advocating for women to be represented in decision-making bodies, letting go of paid employment to devote herself to the Voice of Women, watching internal Voice of Women disagreements over how much the group should oppose government policies, researching international situations, organizing rallies, vigils, teach-ins, feeling united with others working for peace, Muriel always possessed the beautiful quality of connection to others. She was a respectful listener, a believer that women coming together could resolve their differences, the weaver of a web that held women together. She was a great inspiration and organizer. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Nova Scotia Voice of Women members felt she was their mother, grandmother, favourite aunt, best friend. When she would ask you to give of yourself to peace, and she did, how could you say no?

Muriel Duckworth passed away in 2009, at the age of 100. It is now up to us to continue her activism.


The Anne Goodman Award for Peace Education


Dr. Anne Goodman (1950 – 2013) Anne was a long-time member and volunteer with Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. Anne was president and co-founder of InterChange: International Institute for Community-Based Peacebuilding, which collaborates on educational and research projects with like-minded activists around the world. She taught at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), in the department of adult education and community development; she directed a graduate certificate in community healing and peacebuilding; and she was co-director of the university’s Transformative Learning Centre, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. She also taught in the Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster university.

Anne developed a ‘Culture of Peace’ workshop and facilitated many presentations for VOW members. Anne co-founded Voice of Somali Women for Peace, Reconciliation and Political Rights, developed workshops called Peace Begins at Home for a Somali mother’s group in Toronto and was a board member with Peacebuilders International. Anne’s commitment to peacebuilding took her to Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Slovakia, Israel, Croatia and other countries. Anne’s view was that transformative learning involves experiencing a deep, structural shift in thought, feelings and actions – and building strong relationships with each other.

Early in her career, she worked as a research assistant for physicist and activist Dr. Ursula Franklin and Canadian Voice of Women for Peace. Anne believed that by working together we can create that culture of peace of which we dream. She was committed to peace education and we name this award in her honour.


In 2014 awards went to:

Ray Acheson was awarded the Shirley Farlinger Award for Peace Writing. Ray is a young Canadian woman always helpful to the VOW team when we are at the UN. In 2014, Ray gave our group an introductory talk about the scope of her work, so in line with VOW’s anti- nuclear weaponsimage001 strivings.  Her writings are exceptionally clear, authoritative, and MUCH valued internationally.

Bio of Ray Acheson:  Ray is the Director of Reaching Critical Will. She monitors and analyzes many international processes related to disarmament and arms control. Ray is the editor of RCW’s reports and analysis of UN meetings and of several publications on subjects such as nuclear weapon modernization, myths and risks of nuclear power, and challenges to nuclear disarmament. She is on the Board of Directors of the Los Alamos Study Group and on the International Steering Group of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

Ray’s activism goes well back to her early high school days. She has always been passionately interested and concerned with international affairs. After receiving an Honours BA from the University of Toronto in Peace and Conflict Studies she moved to Boston where she worked at the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies with Randall Forsberg as an associate editor of the Arms Control Reporter.

From there she joined WILPH as an intern in their RCW office New York and soon after assumed the role of director. She also received MA in Politics from the New School for Social Research in New York.

Ray’s work on disarmament issues is highly regarded by both the diplomatic community and by civil society organizations. She travels extensively to meet with government officials and NGOs in moving these critical discussions forward and RCW’s publications are relied on as a timely, accurate source of information in this field.

Fran ThoburnFRAN THOBURN received  the Muriel Duckworth Peace Activist Award.

Fran is the only activist remaining from the Grannies who founded the original Raging Granny gaggle in Victoria in l987.  She never expected that she was starting a movement that now encompasses all of North America and beyond.

Fran, the youngest of the original gaggle, was an American who came with an impressive history.  Her great-grandmother had been a suffragette who also helped runaway slaves along the underground railroad to Canada in the American Civil War.  Her maternal grandmother had smuggled birth-control items from England to distribute among poor women.

Fran earned a degree in psychology and teaching certificate and became active in the civil-rights movement and anti-Vietnam War protests, which led to her heading for Canada with her four children, where she quickly became a Canadain Citizen. In Toronto, she helped start a Women’s Health Centre and trained as a medic, believing it was her job to empower street women as well as treat them.

In the mid-eighties, Fran moved to Victoria, where she wrote and produced a radio show on peace issues  before becoming a founder of the Victoria Grannies.   She has always remained strongly involved in peace and environmental issues.  Even before the Grannies surfaced, Fran was a member of NERT (Nuclear Emergency Response Team) which used a metronome to check  unsuspecting visitors for signs of nuclear contamination.

As a newly minted Granny, Fran took the Grannies to coffee houses, trying to educate the audience.  When this didn’t work, she was quick to encourage the Grannies’ new style –  singing satiric songs instead of preaching.

Ever an activist,  Fran launched her canoe alongside other Grannies in their first Granny naval exercise, leading a fleet of very frail vessels against visiting American warships.  Since only national states were allowed to have a navy, she registered “the Raging Granny Anti-Nuclear Armada” under the Societies’ Act.

Fran has always favoured dialogue rather than confrontation.  Before  the Battle of Clayoquot in 1993, which pitted the logging companies against environmentalists, Fran arranged meetings between  Grannies and the BC Minister for Forests, and then invited the forestry company to send a representative to talk things out over tea.

Fran is also an accomplished writer. She produces the leaflets on peace, justice and the environment which the Grannies hand out at regular street “gigs”.  She is the main speaker at their annual lantern commemoration of Hiroshima.

Most importantly, Fran has challenged the Grannies to live the message they convey.  Without preaching, she sets us all an example.  A long time vegetarian, gardener and environmentalist, Fran quietly eats healthily from her own supplies at meals when many other Grannies succumb to the lure of chocolate cake.   Where possible, she avoids air travel because of excessive fuel consumption and air pollution.  She rarely uses her car; instead she goes by bus or walks with crutches – at an astonishing speed.

Fran has always said it was the birth of her grandchildren that reinvigorated her passion for peace.  So she spends a lot of time with them and volunteers at her local school, believing that we all have a message to pass on.

Fran continually inspires her colleagues into action by her example.  Without her, there would probably be no Raging Granny movement.   Following Muriel Duckworth’s example, she continues to strive for peaceful solutions to the problems of the world.

Phyllis CreightonPhyllis Creighton also received the Muriel Duckworth Activist Award. An editor, ethicist, and writer, Phyllis’ work for disarmament, especially nuclear disarmament, is strong and persistent. Phyllis has also been unstintingly active in many justice/peace organizations for 25 years.

Phyllis Creighton was on the board of Science for Peace, which she represented on the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and on the Hiroshima Day Coalition. She was an invited speaker at the 2001and 2005 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She served on the steering committee of Veterans Against Nuclear Arms, and still pursues peace and justice with the Toronto Raging Grannies.In the past several General Synods of the Anglican Church, she has successfully presented motions of her own on landmines, nuclear weapons, and depleted uranium. What follows is a fuller description of ten peace-focused organizations with which she is actively inked:

** Toronto-Volgograd, from 1983, a citizen diplomat initiative that was instrumental in getting Toronto twinned with that Russian city, which was known under the Soviets as Stalingrad
** Project Ploughshares (the peace coalition of the Canadian Council of Churches), on whose board and executive she represented the Anglican Church of Canada (1987-88, 1990-98)
** International Peace Bureau, to which she has been an elected consultant since 1991, and was North American regional rep., 2000 – 3 (the world’s oldest and broadest federation of peace organizations, now based in Geneva. IPB was founded 1891, Nobel Peace Prize 1910. It has more than 225 member groups.)
** No Weapons in Space, of which she is treasurer (from 2002)
** Canadian Voice of Women for Peace (VOW), member and active in its project to delegitimize war: speaker in the VOW three-person panel against war, held in the Church Centre, New York City, at the time of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) 2004 meeting, as well as judge in VOW’s Mock Court putting war on trial, its presentation at the time of the 2005 CSW
** Mayors for Peace, in which she has been a citizen activist promoting at City Hall its 2020 Vision Campaign for nuclear weapons abolition and an invited participant at the MfP Conference in NYC, May 2005
** World Conference against A & H Bombs held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1-9 August), at which she has twice been an invited speaker (2001, 2005)
* * Raging Grannies, a well-known Canada-wide “mafia” originating in Victoria, B.C. (1986), in which she has been active from 1990
** Science for Peace (SfP), board member from 1993, and vice-president (2005-6); collaborator in and initiator of numerous SfP briefs on defence, foreign affairs, security, nuclear weapons abolition, missile defence, and peace policies, from 1994
** Mayors for Peace, in which she has been a citizen activist promoting at City Hall its 2020 Vision Campaign for nuclear weapons abolition and an invited participant at the MfP Conference in NYC, May 2005

Metta Spencer

 Metta Spencer received  the Anne Goodman Peace Education Award. For most of her life, Metta has engaged in a combination of notable academic and activist pursuits in support of a world of greater understanding, infused with non-violence. Her teaching, writings, and abundant organizing skills keeps her active still with no signs of let up. Peace education with its inherent value of changing hearts and minds away from deeply rooted patterns of dominance and threat is richly part of her long peacemongering history.Spencer (b. 1931) is an emeritus professor of sociology, University of Toronto, editor of Peace Magazine, and past president of Science for Peace, an organization of scholars and scientists.

Now a dual US-Canada citizen, she was an activist even during her student days at Berkeley. While writing her Ph.D. dissertation on student politics in India, Spencer also campaigned for anti-Vietnam War candidates and marched in demonstrations carrying her three-year old son on her back. She received a Ph.D. in political sociology from the University of California in 1969.

From 1967-69 she held research and teaching posts at Harvard and in Boston, then returned to Berkeley for two years to study anti-semitism and teach.

From 1971 until retiring in 1997, Spencer taught at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, sometimes heading its sociology department. Her introductory textbook, Foundations of Modern Sociology, was published in ten editions that have been read by an estimated one million students worldwide.

In 1989 she initiated an undergraduate degree program in peace and conflict studies, coordinated it, and taught its core courses. Between 12 and 35 of its students graduated each year. After retiring, she continued offering a course on negotiation and nonviolence four more years.

In 1982 as the disarmament movement surged, Spencer called a meeting to form CANDIS (Canadian Disarmament Information Service). In a chapel at a downtown Toronto church, press conferences were held, banners were painted, and piles of leaflets lined the walls for the crowds of visitors.

CANDIS’s calendar of peace events became Peace Magazine, which Spencer still edits from her home with several volunteers. Of the 2,500 copies per quarterly issue, some go to paid subscribers and some are given out to students or at public meetings. It often includes transcripts of Spencer’s interviews. (See the magazine’s complete 31-year online archive at

Spencer has held office repeatedly in Science for Peace, serving as its president in 2012-14 and once more now as vice-president. She organizes a series of weekly lectures at the University of Toronto, about 85 of which are archived as videos at

She has been teaching an undergraduate course without stipend each year entitled “Public Health in a Nuclear Age,” which deals with nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, with numerous expert guest lecturers. This year it will be open without charge to the general public and advertised widely. Currently she also chairs the Science for Peace working group on nuclear weapons, whose members perform public informative actions.

She represents Science for Peace in the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, is a lifetime member of the Canadian Pugwash Group, and belongs to the Canadian Voice of Women. In 2013 she concluded a three-year term on the steering committee of the International Peace Bureau.

Based on 28 years of meetings and travel in Russia, Metta Spencer published The Russian Quest for Peace and Democracy, in 2010. (See transcripts and audio recordings at

For a list of Metta’s other publications and projects, see the curriculum vitae on her web site,