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Pins Promote Harmony

A unique pin project to promote racial tolerance is underway.

by Will Gibson - Staff Writer
Article in the St. Albert Gazette, March 2, 1994.

Five ribbons bound together by the Maple Leaf.

That's the colorful, flowing pin that will appear on many lapels at the 1994 Alberta Winter Games this weekend.

But the message eclipses the eye-catching effect of the satiny red, white, black, yellow and brown ribbons.

Jasmin Gerwien shows off the five-ribbon pin and the Maple Leaf she uses to help promote racial tolerance. The pins were on sale in St. Albert during the 1994 Alberta Winter Games.

"We have come from all walks of life with different cultures, religions and skin colors but we all have something in common," said Jasmin Gerwien, the pin's creator. "We all dream of freedom, opportunity, hope and peace. We may not understand that we are all the same in heart, mind and soul.

"Let us not fear one another's differences, but rather learn from them."

Spreading the Word

Gerwien wants to bring that message of racial tolerance to the 2,100 young visitors coming to St. Albert this week.

"I was really excited to hear about it coming to St. Albert," she said.

As a student, Gerwien served as the interpreter for athletes from various countries during the 1983 World Universiade Games in Edmonton.

"It was a wonderful experience because every country brought a different culture to the games and learned about each other," she said.

"Everyone exchanged pins and wanted a Canada pin. I hope athletes will want my pin to take home. It's a Canada pin with a lot of meaning behind it." Last year's political controversy about English-speaking immigrants served as the catalyst for creating her colorful symbol.

"I do not think it will eliminate racism. However, I think it works in a couple of ways," said Gerwien, whose pin rests on the lapels of Ralph Klein and Jan Reimer.

"One way is that it is a visible reminder that racism exists. Just as the five colors are unified by the pin, I hope to be a part of the unification of the races.

"We have to start with young people; they are the future of our country."

Canadians who look beyond the boundaries of their neighborhood, province and country may learn to appreciate their society's tranquil multicultural fabric," she said.

Take for Granted

"If ever Canadians opened their eyes and saw what is going on in the rest of the world with the fighting, wars and racism, they would appreciate Canada more and not take their freedoms for granted."

Following the games, Gerwien will use the pins as a vivid visual aid when she talks to classes on March 21, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

"The pin grabs a lot of people's attention and when asked what it opens up the conversation about racism which I hope will lead to a form of communication that can open and expand people's minds."

Tie One on for Tolerance

Ribboned Pins Help Promote Racial Harmony

Lorri Thacyk - Journal Staff Writer
Article in Edmonton Journal, June 30, 1993.

Jasmin Gerwien's fingers fly as she deftly snips and twists five ribbons, and expertly fastens them together.

Jasmin Gerwien shows the flag and her five-coloured ribboned pins.

Ken Orr - The Journal

The satiny ribbons are red, yellow, white, black and brown, and are worn in a loop held together by a small gold maple leaf emblazoned with the Alberta crest.

To tie in with Canada Day, Gerwien is selling the colorful ribboned pins to promote racial harmony.

"I decided to come up with something positive, and talk about the tolerance instead of seeing Albertans painted as rednecks. I wanted to change that image," said Gerwien, a Canadian citizen for 17 years.

Premier Ralph Klein has stressed in the past that "Alberta is an open and tolerant place, that welcomes those who want to contribute to the building of our society."

With $550 from his office budget, Klein recently purchased 110 of Gerwien's pins to caucus members and MLAs.

"They were purchased out of a positive feeling and a wish to support a positive step," said Klein spokesperson Judithy Dyck.

"It's an attractive pin, and a good message."

"It's really important for me to spread the words unity equals peace," said Gerwien. "I would feel good with everyone learning from one another instead of hating one another."

Harvey Voogd of the Mennonite Centre for Newcomers applauds her project.

"I think the idea is great - anything that shows or talks about bringing people together is good. I'd be proud to wear it," Voogd said. The Mennonite Centre provides services to new immigrants.

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