Sr. Marion Garneau

Sr. Marion Garneau

November 7, 2011
RAMON GONZALEZ
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

After decades of working for peace and social justice in Edmonton's inner city, Sister Marion Garneau is receiving due recognition.

Project Ploughshares, a Canadian ecumenical peace group, recently selected Garneau as the recipient of this year's Salvos Prelorentzos Peace Award.

"I'm humbled," Garneau said from her inner city home. "When I think about all the work that's being done for peace through the world, what I do seem pretty small. Why Project Ploughshares would choose me, I don't know."

Project Ploughshares established the Salvos Prelorentzos Peace Award in 1996 as a tribute to Prelorentzos, a former Second World War soldier who became a pacifist after witnessing the horrors of war.

The award is presented annually to a person who promotes the cause of peace and social justice in Edmonton. It consists of a certificate of recognition and a cash component.

"Sister Garneau has been working in the inner city with aboriginal people for many, many years and we wanted to recognize her work and her dedication and her devotion to the cause of making things better and making things right for the people in the inner city," said David Hubert, chair of the award committee.

"We know of her work over many years because of our involvement and because of the involvement of some of our members in the inner city."

The organization will present the Salvos Award to Garneau at City Hall Nov. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

SERVANT TO THE POOR

An Edmonton native, Garneau joined the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception in 1955. Over the years, she has served the Church and society as a high school teacher, overseas missionary in Peru and servant of the poor in Edmonton's inner city.

She is well known in the inner city, where she has served on numerous boards and committees, including the Sexual Assault Centre, the Women's Emergency Accommodation Centre (WEAC) and Operation Friendship.

"I don't even remember all the things that I have done," the sister chuckles.

For more than 15 years Garneau has been active with the Inner City Pastoral Ministry, an ecumenical ministry that puts on a worship service followed by a lunch for the poor Sunday mornings.

As a pastoral associate with the ICPM, Garneau sometimes spends her time listening to residents, visiting them in their homes or attending their funerals. She is available and present to anybody who wants to talk.

STRUMMING SONGS

On Sundays, Garneau is the first to show up at the Bissell Centre, where she helps to get things ready for the church service and lunch. During the service, she plays guitar and sings.

After the lunch she quickly heads to the Women's Federal Prison for a church service and to visit the inmates. She currently coordinates the mentoring group at the women's prison.

"I feel very embarrassed and humbled to be getting this award because it seems we all do what we can in our own circles around peace and for right relationships and for the good of others, but it seems small in the big picture," she said.

The 2010 Salvos Prelorentzos Peace Award went to Maria and Jose Garcia and their three children for their peacemaking efforts in Edmonton and their continuous support of the movement for peace and democracy in EI Salvador, their home country.