Arthur Mauro's Vision
The Mauro Centre arose from the vision of Dr. Arthur V. Mauro, O.C., Q.C., an alumnus of both St. Paul's College and the University of Manitoba. Mauro believed that St. Paul's College, the University of Manitoba, and Winnipeg formed an appropriate site for work toward promoting peace and justice.
Deeply impacted by his education at St. Paul's College, and the University of Manitoba, Dr. Mauro intended that teaching respect for diversity of rational discourse and human interaction which exists at the University would be sustained, and that the intellectual tradition of the Jesuits to pursue both knowledge and social justice would prevail at St. Paul's College. Further, he believes that the community of Winnipeg has made strides in promoting not only tolerance for persons of different backgrounds, but also respect for diversity.
Dr. Mauro was born in Port Arthur (now Thunder Bay), Ontario. He came to Winnipeg in 1946 to study at St. Paul's College and has resided here since. He is a former CEO of Investors Group. He served as chancellor of the University of Manitoba from 1991 through 2000. He was appointed to the Order of Canada first in 1987 as a Member, and then promoted in the Order to Officer in 1992. He was appointed to the Order of Manitoba in 2004.
St. Paul's College
The Mauro Centre is consistent with the College's identity and mission to inspire students to become leaders who are concerned about the world in which they live and who, as per the College's "Statement of Ethos" will be "men and women of right principles, in touch with their times, and in tune with their culture." In 1999, Dr. John Stapleton, former Rector of St. Paul's College, began to lay the groundwork to make Dr. Arthur Mauro's vision a reality. At the College, Dr. Mauro and Dr. Stapleton worked together to recruit a Steering Committee—comprised of prominent citizens from the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, academic, and civic communities—to guide the development of the Centre in its formative stages.
The establishment of the Centre was also inspired by the belief that while religion has often been a cause of violence, coalitions of individuals inspired by different religious faiths can be significant peace-builders. Therefore an initial focus of the Centre has been the role of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in pointing ways for peoples to live in peace and harmony in a post-modern world.
This ideal was symbolized in the Centre's first outreach activity, the First Annual Sol Kanee Lecture on International Peace and Justice, delivered by Prince El Hassan bin Talal of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Dr. Stapleton recalls: "The lecture was organized by a Centre in the Catholic College of the University of Manitoba. It was named after a prominent and well loved Jewish Winnipeg citizen, Sol Kanee, a former president of the World Jewish Congress. And it was delivered by a Muslim leader and significant thinker and activist in the area of peace and justice. More than 1,700 people attended this phenomenal event. Prince Hassan's message was well received."
University of Manitoba
The establishment of the Mauro Centre is also consistent with the stated values of the University of Manitoba, which emphasize the preparation of scholars and professionals who are dedicated to service and society. Further, the Mauro Centre and the Ph.D. Program in Peace and Conflict Studies are consistent with the University of Manitoba's strategic plan, "Building for a Bright Future," which places emphasis on research and graduate education that makes a difference to the province, the nation, and the world.
In 2003, University of Manitoba President Dr. Emöke Szathmáry stated: "To have a centre dedicated to addressing the most pressing issues of our day in an environment that insists on using reason, and relying on civility to permit dispute and discussion to foster understanding is an enormous contribution to the university."
In addition to Dr. Mauro, more than 500 individuals and organizations have contributed to the support of the Centre. As mentioned above, the Mauro Centre is guided by a board of directors that are an important link between academy and the community.
The Winnipeg community is noteworthy for its strong history in the area of peace and justice, with numerous organizations in the city working towards those goals. People have come to Canada from all over the world, often escaping severe political violence and economic hardship. Winnipeg is the largest urban Aboriginal community in North America. Winnipeg has the largest French-speaking community in North America outside of Québec.
Winnipeg has a reputation for social justice advocacy across class, ethnic, and religious lines. The Winnipeg General Strike took place in 1919. During the post-World War II years, Winnipeg women politically mobilized across class and ethnic lines to protest rising milk and food prices.
Menno Simons College of Canadian Mennonite University offers a highly popular undergraduate program in Conflict Resolution Studies at the University of Winnipeg, which is the largest program of its kind in the world. The restorative justice approach for dealing with offenders within the criminial justice system is increasingly promoted in Manitoba. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is to be built in Winnipeg and named in honour of the city's renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist, the late Dr. Israel Asper. Winnipeg-born Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, president of the University of Winnipeg, is known for the concept of human security and his work on behalf of the historic international landmine treaty.
As Mauro Centre board member Mr. James Carr put it, "Winnipeg will be a beacon of peace to the world."
In 2005, a Ph.D. Program in Peace and Conflict Studies was established at the University of Manitoba and housed in the Centre was fully approved by the Council on Post-Secondary Education and the University of Manitoba. The first cohort of doctoral students was admitted in January 2006, a second cohort was admitted in September 2006, and a third cohort in September 2007. An interdisciplinary Graduate Program Committee was developed to oversee the Ph.D. Program, and more then 30 faculty from throughout the University, Menno Simons College, and the University of Winnipeg who are engaged in relevant teaching and research have affiliated themselves with the Ph.D. Program as potential advisors for doctoral students.
The Centre has organized a number of outreach events, including the annual Sol Kanee Lecture Series on International Peace, the Search for Common Ground Film Festival, the annual Winnipeg International Storytelling Festival: Storytelling on the Path to Peace, two Concerts for Peace, as well as a number of specialized lectures and workshops. The Centre has participated as a co-sponsor for many programs originated by other organizations as well.
L to R: Archbishop James Weisgerber, Dr. John Stapleton, Dr. Arthur V. Mauro