Photo C/O @worldvisionmcmaster
World Vision McMaster in partnership with World Vision Canada are putting on Pieces of Peace, an event that will explore the ways in which we can all take action against injustice. Taking place on March 20 at 7 p.m. in Celebration Hall, the event will feature special guest Emmanuel Jal, a recognized Toronto-based peacebuilder and Juno-nominated artist.
Jal will be part of a panel of speakers including Gilad Cohen and Karen Craggs-Milne. Cohen is an artist and the founder and executive director of JAYU, a charity that shares human rights stories through the arts. Craggs-Milne is a global equality expert who specializes in diversity and inclusion training. The panel will discuss how students can champion the protection, equality and education of people around the world.
“[T]he most important thing is each and every student knowing the life they want to create, what they want to bring this world… and then having courage to create that… If you want to bring happiness, you want to joy, you want to bring peace, you want heal people… We spent a lot of energy thinking about [heroes] and what they did…, but we forget that that the world is a reflection of us,” Jal said.
Jal believes that organizations like World Vision are important because they help keep humanity on track and remind us to walk in our purpose. Throughout his career, he has been involved with numerous global charities that do work that is close to his heart.
Jal was born in war torn South Sudan in the early 1980s. He lost most of his family to the war and was recruited as a child soldier at the age of seven. Fortunately, he escaped some time after and was rescued by an aid worker named Emma McCune. He endured several other challenges to become the peace ambassador and recording artist that he is today.
Music has played an enormous role in Jal’s healing journey because it is a form of meditation for him. In addition to sharing details of his journey at Pieces of Peace, Jal will be performing. His latest album, Naath, is a collaboration with his sister Nyaruach and was nominated for a Juno this year.
“[T]he Naath album is more so small keeping the voices of refugees alive despite the challenges that we are facing. Refugees have dreams, they have a purpose. They want to contribute to the global issues. They want to be part of something… [M]y sister… lives in a refugee camp and I’m now a refugee in Canada,” Jal explained.
The album garnered a Juno nomination for World Music Album of the Year. Jal is honoured to be recognized by the country that he has felt has been so good to him, especially for an award that celebrates the diversity that exists in Canada. He also appreciated the opportunity to network with other great artists.
Jal sees the world’s great artists as proof that music can change the world. He cites artists like Bob Marley, one of his own influences, as evidence of the way in which music has moved others and drummed up peace and unity. However, despite the important messages that permeate his work, Jal wanted Naath to be a fun and celebratory album.
“I share experiences but now, in this album, I wanted to have fun. I want to dance. I want to reach that childhood, bring it now. If I had more time to dance when I was a kid, I would have loved it. I always wanted to just dance and jump around not care what another person thinks… [I]t [has] helped me to dance out bitterness, when I was bitter and I couldn’t get it out another means,” Jal said.
Along with Jal’s performance at Pieces of Peace, Mississauga-based dance group Kindred Culture will be performing. Kindred Culture’s goal, which is to give people an outlet of expression while also supporting the community and charitable organizations aligns with Jal’s mission.
Jal believes that curious students have the power to change the world. Through both discussion and dance, Pieces of Peace will give students a lot to think in terms of how they can make a difference locally and globally.