The Citizen Protection Project 2001 – 2007
In the frenzy that followed 9/11, Hamilton was subjected to a wave of violence and hate crimes, some directed against immigrants and vulnerable minorities. A member of Culture of Peace proposed a motion to city council to protect such people. The idea was adopted unanimously, but with no budget.
Nearly two years passed before Culture of Peace obtained a federal grant from the National Crime Prevention Centre, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, to set up a program they called the Citizen Protection Project. This was backed by the City of Hamilton, the Hamilton Police Service, and several other local groups. Following the Neighbourhood Watch model, the program was intended to provide ‘safe havens’ where persons who felt threatened could go for shelter and limited assistance. Originally the safe havens were expected to be inside large public buildings normally open to the public, like shops and offices. However, because such activity increased the costs of liability insurance, the program never developed as intended. In fact, although some excellent work was done to discover the needs of vulnerable minorities, the only safe havens established were in community centres and community policing offices which were covered by municipal insurance.
During this period, which was constantly clouded by unsettling accounts of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Culture of Peace Network continued to meet regularly with other peace and social justice groups, to promote the U.N.’s six pathways, and to raise funds to support its many efforts. It developed Peace Dollars and urged the public to ‘wage peace’ by buying as many as possible at $1 each. By offering to share Peace Dollars with other faith and social justice groups it attempted to reduce the destructive competition that often occurred when applying for funds from foundations. It hoped to encourage a more democratic source of funding. If everyone in Hamilton had bought just one Peace Dollar, more than half a million dollars would have been raised to help the many groups in the city. Sadly, such cooperation was not achieved.