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November 22, 2022

Grey Highlands activist Lynn Silverton wins YMCA’s 2022 Peace Medallion

2022 YMCA Peace Medallion award ceremony

BY JOHN BUTLER FOR SOUTHGREY.CA — It started for Lynn Silverton in Britain after the Second World War.

Silverton, Chair of the Grey Highlands Peace Committee and this year’s recipient of the Owen Sound Grey Bruce YMCA’s Peace Medallion, credits her experience as a child in post-war Scotland for instilling in her a drive to create and participate in community improvement processes. “After the war” she says, “we all had to work together to restore peaceful community life after years of focusing on war above all.” Silverton sees the same need for community-building in the post-COVID era.

The Peace Medallion was presented to Silverton at an event at the YMCA in Owen Sound on November 17, during the Ys annual Peace Week. She was nominated for the award by the Grey Highlands Peace Committee. Three members of the committee attended the ceremony along with her husband Bob and representatives of the Ys Peace Medallion selection committee. Each year, during Peace Week, YMCAs across Canada recognize people who, without any special resources, status, wealth or position, have demonstrated a commitment to peace through special contributions made within their community and globally.

Citing Silverton’s nomination form, YMCA Selection Committee member Michael McLuhan described her as “an inclusive community leader who identifies and shares community-building tasks, challenges and opportunities rather than hoarding them.” Said the local Y’s CEO Sarah Cowley, “On behalf of the YMCA of Owen Sound Grey Bruce we congratulate this year’s Peace Medal recipient, Lynn Silverton. Her advocacy and commitment is truly inspirational.” In a media release, the YMCA said Silverton “demonstrates all the YMCA values of PEACE: Participation, Empathy, Advocacy, Community and Empowerment.”

Much of Silverton’s success comes through her leadership roles in community boards and committees. She currently chairs the Peace Committee, the Grey Highlands Police Services Board, the Board of the Flesherton and District Farmers’ Market, the Seniors’ Advisory Committee and Grey County Cares, an organization set up help newcomers from Ukraine and other conflict-torn countries to get a new start in Canada. Silverton recently served a term as President of the Rotary Club of Markdale and she is the incoming Chair of the Board of the Grey Highlands Public Library. She has also produced a weekly column in the Dundalk Herald and The Advance for the past quarter century, and she served on Grey Highlands Council for 15 years.

In her acceptance speech Silverton said that the credit for peace-making should go not to her but to the members of the Peace Committee and like-minded community groups. She encouraged other communities to create peace committees and offered to help set them up.

Silverton sees her next challenge as helping individuals and organizations in Grey County to see diversity as a strength in community life, not a threat to it — a process that helps turn strangers into friends. In describing this priority and its potential for inclusion, she harkened back to her experience helping at a Remembrance Day ceremony at Grey Gables Home for the Aged in Markdale. One senior seemed to be crying during the event. When she asked him what was the matter, he said, “I fought for the other side. My job was to kill the people we honour today, so I may not be welcome here.” Silverton then approached several veterans at the event, asking them if their former foe was welcome among them. “Yes, he is,” they replied.

This story sums up the bridge-building that marks much of the work Silverton does — work that led her to receive the YMCA’s Peace Medallion for 2022.


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