The 48th Kamloops Rally for Peace is fast approaching

Members of the Kamloops community are encouraged to come out and make their voices heard during the annual event.

Students concerned about the climate, the chaos of worldly conflicts and those who simply want to socialize are invited to the annual Kamloops’ Rally for Peace, Social Justice and the Environment on April 20.

The rally begins at 10 a.m. at the Kamloops Farmer’s Market and is scheduled to run into the afternoon. Various activist groups are set to host information tables. Kevin Pankewich, one of the event’s organizers, said several people are scheduled to speak about peace, disarmament and social justice during the rally.

Pankewich, who has worked with the rally for several years, said his inspiration for originally getting involved in the event was simple.

“There are multiple conflicts going on around this world. Our governments are often complicit. We should be taking some kind of a stand [and] at least letting people know that we’re not down with that,” Pankewich said.

2024 marks the 48th year in which some iteration of the Peace Rally has taken place in Kamloops.

“It kind of changes formats over the years, but it’s been a longstanding piece…of Kamloops history here. It’s one of the longest-running [annual community peace events] in Canada,” Pankewich said.

Although specific conflicts and issues may change each year, Pankewich said these events are more important than ever.

“Every day right now is probably as dangerous as some of the most dangerous days during the Cold War, and back in those days, I think there was a far more healthy peace and disarmament movement,” Pankewich said. “We have to be recognizing that there is some level of accountability over our governments that we can all push for.”

In addition to global conflicts this event is raising awareness for, Pankewich said the climate is also top of mind for organizers.

“In a place like Kamloops, typically tree fruits are a really good sustainable option for growing our own food,” Pankewich, an urban farmer by trade, said. “In [recent] years, we’ve completely lacked on tree fruits, and that’s because the climate’s changing.”

Pankewich explained that the issue affecting the fruit trees is due to unexpected “hard frosts” that have been occurring after the trees wake up at the beginning of spring. When these frost snaps come on without warning, they often kill off an essential component of the fruit-growing process: the flowers.

Currently, Pankewich is working toward his Master of Arts in Human Rights and Social Justice at TRU and, along with other like-minded students, is trying to encourage more young people to attend this year’s rally.

“[We’re] planning on getting more of a campus base to the group,” Pankewich said. “People often wonder what they can do about the multiple crises that we’re facing… It can be really good and really empowering to show up and see that other people are just as concerned as you are.”