5 April 2018
CPTer Esther Kern, Receives Muriel Duckworth Award for Peace Activism at VOW International Women’s Day Dinner, Toronto
by Murray Lumley
|Esther Kern at her award banquet surrounded by her Christian Peacemaker Team colleagues
On Thursday, 8 March 2018, Esther Kern, former Canada Coordinator of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) received the Muriel Duckworth Award for Peace Activism at the Voice of Women for Peace International Women’s Day Dinner held at Friend’s (Quaker) House in Toronto. She was a member of a select, influential group of women at the event to receive awards for such diverse contributions as Youth Peace Leadership, Peace Writing, Peace Activism, Peace Education and Award of Distinction.
In her remarks upon receiving her award, Esther recalled the reasons she chose to become a Christian Peacemaker. She referred to a book published in 1965 by a well- known Canadian journalist, Pierre Burton, called The Comfortable Pew, A Critical Look at Christianity and the Religious Establishment in the New Age. Esther said she had heard sermons all her life about justice and mercy in her Mennonite Churches but didn’t see anyone acting on these great themes.
Esther had a career as an operating room nurse and a nurse educator but felt that she needed to act on her conviction. She volunteered for CPT training in Toronto in 2004, and then, as a CPT Reservist, served in Hebron-Palestine, Colombia, the U.S. Mexico Border, Northern Iraq and the Indigenous People’s Solidarity (as an ally of First Nations people struggling against illegal resource extractions on their traditional territories), at several sites in North America. Esther has led many CPT learning delegations, to every team site.
Esther was then asked to serve CPT in an administrative capacity at the Toronto office as CPT Canada Coordinator, retiring from that position in 2016. A series of tributes to Esther can be found here. As a CPT administrator, Esther contributed to the shaping of present day CPT and particularly Indigenous Peoples Solidarity in Canada. Esther still found time to work with War Resisters groups in London, ON and Toronto as well as participating in refugee support groups in London. She has also been active in creating connections between Muslim and Christian communities in London and elsewhere.
Esther continues to travel more than once per year on medical missions to Cuba and Honduras, and has continued to lead CPT delegations. She and David are members of Valleyview Mennonite Church in London. They have two adult children.
We wish Esther the Creator’s blessings and the good health to continue comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.
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