Kamloops Peace Walk goes big for 43rd annual celebration

43rd annual Walk for Peace, the Environment and Social Justice will include music and food

Though the Kamloops Walk for Peace, the Environment and Social Justice has been running for 43 years, this year will be the first to be paired with the Rock the Walk music festival. (Submitted)

Later this month, downtown Kamloops will be host to the 43rd annual Walk for Peace, the Environment and Social Justice. This year, the Peace Walk will be paired with Rock the Walk, a free afternoon music festival.

The Peace Walk itself, which is put on by the Kamloops chapter of the Council of Canadians, originally started as a response to escalating tensions during the Cold War’s nuclear arms race. Since then, the event has evolved into a day of advocacy for societal issues as well as a chance to bring the community together.

While the Kamloops Peace Walk is Canada’s longest, peace walks or peace marches as they are sometimes called, have been around for much longer. Though relatively new, one of the world’s largest and longest peace walks is the European Peace Walk. That event, meant to celebrate the current European culture of peace and honour its war-torn history, is a three week walk that takes place across six different countries.

While this year’s Kamloops Peace Walk isn’t advocating anything in particular, attendees are free to come and discuss whatever they want, said Alex Horsman, a TRU English major who is helping organize the event as part of a service learning course. The main goal is to encourage community participation, she says.

“[We’re] trying to keep it as broad as possible, for each individual person there is a different type of issue that pertains to them,” Horsman said. “For me, I’m really concerned about global warming and climate change. For another person it might be Aboriginal land rights and they want to be as inclusive as possible and keep a space where people can voice their concerns.”

While the rally is still the most significant part of the event, organizers this year decided to expand both the scope and scale in order to increase community involvement. After the walk, speeches and the release of peace doves, attendees will be able to participate in a variety of events, buy food and listen to music in the Riverside Bandshell as part of the Rock the Walk festival.

“This year they wanted to include the Rock the Walk festival because they wanted to make it more appealing to younger generations as the organizers are in their ‘golden years’,” Horsman said. “They’d like younger people to get involved so it keeps going.”

With the addition of Rock the Walk, Horsman believes that the Peace Walk will be more enticing to younger audiences and encourage wider community participation in future events in Kamloops.

“What’s neat is we’ll have a lot of local music, it’s very community-based which I think will entice more people to come and see their friends perform,” she said. “There is going to be info booths for groups here in Kamloops. It is really going to be built around the Kamloops community.”

In addition to info booths and an artisans market which will be on site, the event will also include a float competition. Floats must be powered by something other than fossil fuel and must reflect some aspect of peace, the environment or social justice. You can find out more at lookkamloops.ca.

To those looking to donate to the event, the Council of Canadians have set up a GoFundMe page under Kamloops Peace Walk/Music Festival.