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by Rhonda Spivak

Dr. Arthur Mauro, the founder of the  Centre for Peace and Justice at  the University of Manitoba laid out a vision for Winnipeg as being "The New Geneva," a centre for  the pursuit of  of  justice. He was the featured speaker at  the 35th Annual Luncheon of the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba at the Fairmont Hotel on November 12.

Mauro, who has received the Order of Canada. and Order of Manitoba, said that just as Geneva played a significant role internationally after World War I,  once the Canadian Museum of Human Rights opens in Winnipeg,  the city will be set to play an international role  in  the global pursuit of  human rights and justice.

 "We ought to urge  the  Canadian Human Rights Commission to move its offices here," he said.

Mauro added "We ought to urge UNESCO to open offices in Winnipeg to deal with the problems facing aboriginal peoples around the world. We must prepare Winnipeg as a world centre for peace studies. "

Mauro continued, "While the Geneva Convention outlines the rules of war, the Winnipeg Convention wil establish the rules of peace and social justice."

The purpose of the centre that Mauro founded is to provide academic exchange, research and outreach programs reflecting the fundamentals of the  three Abrahamic religions, and it is the only PhD. program in Peace  Studies and Conflcit Resolution available in Canada.

In his adress, Mauro spoke about Winnipeg's history, which  he said  " has seen conflicts between English and French" as exemplified by the struggle of Louis Riel.  Additionally, there was the struggle  "between  Catholic and Protestant" which manifest itself in the  Catholic schools question.  The third struggle as evidenced by the Winnipeg General Strike was   between the forces of the labour movement,  and the immigrant population versus  capitalism.

In  all of the above historical periods, Mauro noted that the route of "confrontation" was chosen, rather than reconciliation.

Mauro, who was born in Thunder Bay, and has served as Chancellor of the University of  Manitoba,  said  "I never personally experienced rascism [in Thunder Bay]. In 1946, in Winnipeg, I first encountered rascism."

He said he remembers a time when "there was a quota for Jewish doctors" and there was a "gentlemen's agreement about not selling Jews land in Tuxedo, " and  when "it  was difficult for  some Catholics to get a job."

However,  Mauro, who graduated with a Master of Law in 1956,  said that "the landscape [in the city] has changed dramatically, and "I believe  the change was the result of our university experience.  The  conflicts [referred to above] have been resolved."

He said he was glad "to have lived  so long" as to see the  day when  the Manitoba Club had opened it's doors to Jews and now, in fact, had  established an alliance with Glendale Golf and Country Club."

Mauro, who in  1976 joined Investors Group, retiring as Chairman and CEO in 1992, said that today, "Winnipeg is a  community  that welcomes diversity "and evidenced by the celebration of Folklorama. "Winnipeg will be the  cultural capital of Canada in 2010."

He stressed that  it is important to  "dream" and be inspired by  future potential, and that Winnipeg's future lay in  making it  be a city associated with freedom and justice.

Marsha Cowan , CEO of the Jewish Foundation told the audience that in tough economic times, philanthropy was all the more important.  She  also noted that the Jewish Foundation had received "600 bequests" and that most recently it had received a bequest of over four million dollars, making it the second largest bequest ever received.  Cowan said more details  about this will be given at a later time.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.