Peace and Sport
02 December 2010, 05h45 CET (GMT+1)
2010 Peace and Sport International Forum
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With a total area of little more than two square kilometres, the Principality of Monaco is probably best known for its casinos, Formula One race, and permissive tax laws. Certainly less famous, but just as certainly no less worthy, is that it is the host nation of Peace and Sport, a member of the global web of foundations that attempt to press sport into the cause of international conflict resolution and peacebuiding.
I am in Monaco representing the Canadian Equestrian Team and Equine Canada at Peace and Sport’s 2010 forum. The forum’s regal setting belies the deadly question that brings me here: can we use sport to systematically rehabilitate former child soldiers and to reintegrate them into the societies from which they were stolen?
It is a difficult and painful question, not least because as much as I desperately want the answer to be “yes”, I recognise that it may very well be “not practicably”.
One of the most despicable tragedies of child soldiery is that soon after being captured, children are often forced to participate in atrocities against their own communities, to make it impossible for them to ever be re-accepted home. The captives are left bound to their captors not by chains, but because there is nowhere to which they can escape.
I have represented Canada as an equestrian athlete since 2006, served as Chief Executive Officer of Canada’s national equestrian team and federation since 2008, and last week was honoured to be named to the Canadian Olympic Committee’s Ethics Committee. In all these roles, I believe that I am called to represent my country not only in pursuing success on the field of competition, but also in projecting Canadian values into the world.
I hope that working with my colleagues in Peace and Sport, I will be able to fulfil this responsibility, by helping to chart a path home for some of the most viciously exploited – and yet some of the least sympathetically received – children in the world.
I will be using the usual complement of social media tools – Twitter, Facebook, and Barnmice – to keep Canadians and members and supporters of our team abreast of developments at the forum.