Megumi Saunders

Lighting a path to peace in Esquimalt

Ceremony honours those lost in Hiroshima, Nagasaki bomb attacks on Japan

A fleet of flickering, dancing lights drifting slowly across the calm waters of the Gorge have come to symbolize a quest for peace.

“For me, Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been for peace,” said Megumi Saunders, the minister for children, youth, young adults and family at First Metropolitan Church.

Lanterns are lit and cast out to sea as part of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki Remembered Ceremony, taking place at Esquimalt Gorge Park on Tuesday, Aug 6.

Saunders was raised in Nara, Japan. She visited Hiroshima in March with her son and two grandchildren.

For the past six years, she has asked children from her church to read stories at the event that are drawn from interviews with children who survived the blasts, collected in a book titled Children of the Atomic Bomb.

Saunders chooses stories featuring children the same age as those who will read them, to help foster connection.

“(The children) survived but their dad died, the next day their mom died, their sister died, their brother died, grandparents missing,” she said. “So the people remember what happened to children, and their memories, why we have to keep peace.”

This year marks the 68th anniversary of the dropping of atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombing contributed to the end of the Second World War, but devastated the cities and caused the deaths of an estimated 150,000 people.

Linda Taffs, a member of ceremony co-organizer Raging Grannies, has been a peace activist since the first Gulf War in 1991, but has long taken a serious interest in peace issues. She visited Hiroshima in 1984 to see firsthand the memorials dedicated to the bombings.

“It was very interesting. It was also very moving,” she said.

One statue Taffs clearly remembers is of a mother bending over and sheltering her children. Saunders wears a pendant featuring the same image around her neck as part of her own remembrance.

To Taffs and the others, the lanterns act as a symbol of peace. Participants will be able to make their lanterns at the event, adorned with messages of peace and hope.

“To light the lantern for peace, to show the way,” Taffs explained.

All are encouraged to participate in the ceremony. Materials for lanterns are provided for free. All floating lanterns are collected after, to avoid littering.

Lantern making begins at 7 p.m., followed by words and songs of peace at 7:30, then the floating of the lanterns in the waterway.

reporter@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Victoria restaurant gets one-year extension after facing renoviction

Pluto’s Restaurant set to stay at its Cook Street location until March 2021

Woman injured during West Shore RCMP arrest prompts police watchdog investigation

IIO investigating to determine if police action or inaction linked to woman’s injuries

Victoria Foundation’s community grants support 109 local non-profits

Foundation delivers $2.8 million in grant money to local organizations

Strathcona hotel complex venues closed due to ‘construction issues’

Business announced closure on Thursday afternoon on Facebook

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

Sooke’s École Poirier students win B.C. Hydro Power Smart contest

More than 100 schools compete in province-wide competition

Most Read