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Dove for Peace: Bringing business into the movement

Amy Kaler — September 1984

Are peace and profit compatible?

Yes, says Geoffrey Bennun, the creator, promoter, organizer and fundraiser for the Dove for Peace Foundation, and whose raison d’are is the creation of the Canadian Peace Award.

This award, which Bennun hopes will be a reality as early as 1986, would be given to the individual considered to have contributed the most to world disarmament during the past year. It would consist of a $200,000 scholarship in the winner’s name for two or three students from the winner’s country to attend school in Canada.

Bennun is enlisting the support of the Canadian business community.

“I offer businesses a comfortable way to show support for the peace movement – no demonstrations or posters. We all know money talks, but the peace movement refers to the business community as an enemy.”

Bennun’s vision of “changing things” includes Canadian Peace Award representation at major entertainment events such as the Super Bowl and the Olympics. Even now, CN Hotels across Canada are using cocktail napkins with the Dove for Peace logo and information about the Canadian Peace Award.

Most of Bennun’s support has come from the hotel industry in which he worked for many years. He believes the hotel industry is the logical target for corporate fundraising – tourism and peace go together, he says, and hotel profits depend on peace.

Next month, Bennun’s foundation plans a benefit lunch for the leaders of the hotel industry, through which he hopes to raise a substantial part of the fifty to one hundred thousand dollars needed to implement his plan. Until that money is raised, however, the foundation will operate on a volunteer basis.

A strong nationalist element exists in Bennun’s proposal. “The peace award is a patriotic way for Canadian people to register their desire for peace in the eyes of the world. Everyone’s heard of the Nobel Prize, but nobody knows what Scandinavian nation it comes from. “

Bennun’s intention is for the Canadian people to vote in a referendum-like format for the recipients of the award. The foundation’s selection committee, chaired by Kevin Doyle of Maclean’s magazine, would reduce an initial list of 10-12 possible candidates to two or three, whose qualifications for the award would then be widely publicized. Bennun declined to mention any individuals he would consider suitable candidates, but mentioned the Belfast women who received the Nobel Peace Prize a couple of years ago as “the type – ordinary people who have decided to do something.’ ,

Bennun’s contacts with other elements in the Canadian peace movement have been limited and not especially productive, due to what he perceives as the peace movement’s alienation from much of Canadian society.

“A lot of people don’t like demonstrations and posters, but support peace. I hope that someday “peacenik” can also mean someone in a three-piece suit.”

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