I was super excited to be an attendee of the 60th Pugwash Conference on Canada’s Contribution to Global Security, an opportunity I got (for free!!) through my boss and VOW member Theresa Thomas. It was a wonderful 3-day conference in Halifax that ended in a road trip to the beautiful Historical Site know as Thinkers Lodge, which is actually the birthplace of the conference 60 years ago in the year 1957. The topic then was on how to dismantle the world’s obsession with nuclear weapons – unfortunately, a topic that is still relevant today, and a major topic at the conference. I attended the second day of the conference on Monday, where it took place at Dalhousie University. I listened in on a couple presentations, such as Douglas Roche’s presentation on Nuclear Weapons, and an interesting presentation by Dr. Shelly Whitman about UN soldiers encountering child soldiers during peace operations, and the dilemmas that causes.
On Wednesday, I carpooled with keynote speaker Ernie Regehr, a Dal poli-sci prof, and our gracious driver, a conference coordinator. It took about 2 hours to get to Pugwash from Halifax, time we spent discussing our jobs, studies, and the Trump Administration. Pugwash was beautiful! As soon as you peeled your eyes away from the ocean, you take in the beautiful house that is the Thinkers Lodge Historic Site. Farther down lies the Lobster Factory – a large dining area that contains no hint of its older, fishier times. A large grassy expanse of space lies between the two, and a park is farther down from the factory. It is no wonder the Lodge is a common wedding location! It is absolutely breath-taking!
After a tour of the place with all its historic significance (that I won’t go into detail with in case future camp participants are reading this J), we had lunch at the lobster factory. I sat with Prof. Erika Simpson – a professor of Political Science at Western University, Ontario, who gave a presentation on Nuclear Arms, NATO, and the NPT. She invited me to go swimming with her and her daughter – who was also in attendance – after lunch.
After lunch and a couple more speeches, when all attendees began to disperse, we got ready to go the beach! Erica dug in her suitcase for something I could wear to swim (people in peace work are the nicest wink, wink get involved). We then went out the lodge, down the grassy part, and into the beach. The water was beautiful! It was quite shallow, and I could swim for quite a while, while still being able to put my feet down and reach the bottom (I’m 5’2 by the way). Swimming was definitely one of my favourite parts about the conference! All too soon, it was 4:30 pm and I had to go dry off and get back to the car I came in, and leave Pugwash behind.
I was quite dis-hearted to have to leave the beauty I had discovered at the top of Nova Scotia. I had never heard of Pugwash before working this summer on the camp, yet after going could hardly believe that little piece of paradise was widely unheard of.
I am definitely looking forward to going back up there in August! To all accepted applicants of 2017, congratulations! And don’t forget to bring a swimsuit!