Island unites for National Day of Peace
Hundreds of people came together yesterday to mourn and to heal at a national Day of Peace.
Pastor Leroy Bean, the island’s gang violence reduction co-ordinator, said: “We believe that unless a nation mourns, we can’t heal.
“And so we are coming together as a nation to mourn together, that we can start to heal together as one people.”
Mr Bean was speaking as hundreds of people from all walks of life gathered at the National Sports Centre for the event.
The Ministry of National Security organised the National Day of Peace for families who have lost loved ones to gang violence.
The event, a joint effort with churches and social service agencies, also included those traumatised by other losses.
National security minister Wayne Caines said Government would continue to provide programmes to tackle multi-generational trauma.
But he added yesterday’s event was “an excellent opportunity for us to highlight to the world that as a country we can work together”.
Mr Caines said prayer was not the end of all problems but it was “the start”.
He added: “We believe that when our communities of faith come together that we are the bedrock in this community.”
Mr Caines said everyone should work for peace in their personal and professional lives.
He added: “We don’t have to look anywhere. All the solutions lie within the many women, men and young people under the sound of my voice.”
Dignitaries, officials, clergy and representatives from the island’s emergency services attended the event, which also featured a intercession tent for anyone who wanted to pray.
John Rankin, the Governor, highlighted Bermuda’s economic problems, problems with antisocial behaviour and “the challenges over those things which divide us rather than unite us”.
He said: “I know, in the short time I have been here, that too many lives, particularly young lives, have been lost or damaged by these challenges.”
Mr Rankin emphasised that everyone had to take individual responsibility and pledged to do his part to bring the community together and work for peace.
He also offered a message of hope and highlighted work to end conflict in other areas of the world like Ireland and south Asia.
Mr Rankin said that with all Bermuda’s talent and determination “surely progress can be made here as well”.
He added: “As a Chinese philosopher said, ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’. Let’s all try and take one step forward this evening.”
Jeanne Atherden, the Opposition leader, said the One Bermuda Alliance was happy to support the event.
Ms Atherden said people should remember that they “are related to everyone else in this small island” and urged them to be their brother’s keeper.
Mr Caines said after the event: “I think this is an example of the greatness of our country.
“Events like this allow us to see what we can do when we work together. I believe that there is more that unites us than divides us.
“This Government is committed not only to reducing gun and gang violence and reducing the fatalities and injuries on our roads but also to healing the country in every way possible.”
Nicola Paugh, of youth charity Mirrors, said: “We are here participating in this event to support peace in Bermuda. It’s important to come together to work towards a common cause.”
Other social services groups at the event included the Women’s Resource Centre.
The Royal Gazette’s Drive for Change campaign also had a stall at the event with partner road safety group A Piece of the Rock.
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