Kama Steliga part of group nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

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Lillooet Friendship Centre executive director Kama Steliga is one of nine Canadian women nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize.

They in turn are part of a group of 1,000 women from more than 150 countries who are jointly nominated for the Nobel honour, which will be presented in Oslo, Norway this December. Steliga told the News June 27 she never in her wildest dreams anticipated she would be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

"It's amazing. I'm filled with a ton of different feelings - I'm awestruck by it, I'm humbled, I'm amazed.

"This is not about one act of greatness," she continued. "It's about a thousand acts around the world to create change. It's about recognizing the community development work done by women, which is not often recognized."

Steliga was initially nominated by Sarah Chandler. Her name was among a list of more than 2,000 women's names submitted for consideration before the names of 1000 women were selected in January, 2005 for the collective nomination by the 1000 Women Association. The Nobel Committee officially accepted the nomination at the end of June.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee is expected to announce the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize on Oct. 14. Steliga said if the 1,000 Women project wins the Peace Prize, the approximately $1 million cash prize accompanying the Nobel award will be divided among the 1,000 nominees.

"Sarah talked to me about it last year and she was the one who nominated me," explained Steliga. "I was just honoured to be considered as a nominee.

"When I asked Sarah 'Why me?' she listed off a bunch of things. When I think of peace activists, I had a different definition, but she mentioned things like anti-violence programs, dealing with issues of sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS activism, anti-poverty work and community development. It's not about doing something in particular, it's just a way of life to me, and the Friendship Centre movement is a huge part of that."

The other Canadian nominees are:

Former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour, who was the former chief prosecutor at the tribunal into Rwandan genocide. Arbour is currently serving as the United Nations' Commissioner for Human Rights.

Canadian nationalist, author and Council of Canadians founder Maude Barlow.

Dr. Akua Benjamin, social worker and Director of the School of Social Work at Ryerson University in Toronto.

97-year-old peace activist Muriel Helena Duckworth, a founding member of Nova Scotia's Voice of Women in 1960.

Marjorie Phyllis Hodgson

Teacher and sustainable tourism researcher Julia Morton-Marr, who is also the founder of the International Holistic Tourism Education Centre. Morton-Marr also established the International School Peace Garden program, which is active in 3500 schools in 34 countries.

Ontario Liberal Senator and children's rights activist Landon Pearson, who has become known as the "Senator for Children and Youth."

Cree elder Doreen Spence, a human rights activist and founder/director of the Canadian Indigenous Women's Research Institute.

Dr. Margo Okazawa-Rey, director of the Women's Leadership Institute, was one of the driving forces behind the 1,000 Women Association and the Nobel nomination.

"The number 1,000 is symbolic as the 1,000 nominated women represent innumerable women worldwide who are engaged in the cause of peace and human dignity," commented Okazawa-Rey.

She called the 1,000 nominees "beacons of hope" who commit themselves daily to the cause of peace and justice, often under the most difficult circumstances.

The 1,000 Women project began in 2003, based on the conviction that women working for peace should finally be acknowledged and made publicly known. It began as a Swiss initiative, but has become a project supported globally, thanks to the work of co-ordinators and volunteers in 20 regions of the world. The project has the support of Switzerland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Micheline Calmy Rey and the patronage of UNESCO Switzerland.

In order to make the 1,000 inspiring biographies known to the public, a book on the 1,000 women will appear at the end of this year. It will present their work, their visions and their life stories. A traveling exhibit is also planned, with texts and pictures documenting the 1,000 women, and an interactive online platform will improve the women's networking and make their biographies readily available.

For further information, visit the website www.1000peacewomen.org .

Nobel Prizes are awarded annually for the greatest services to humanity in science and literature and for the most effective work to promote friendship between nations (the Peace Prize).

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