For a local theatre company that aims to start conversations about social issues, the Peace Medallion might be considered like their Oscar.
Sheatre is the recipient of this year's YMCA Peace Medallion in Grey Bruce which honours those who work to make our world and community a better place through encouraging peace.
A ceremony was held at the YMCA of Grey Bruce in Owen Sound Thursday (Nov 21) where former honorees and local dignitaries gathered to thank Sheatre and its founder Joan Chandler for nearly 35 years of work.
Chandler accepted not one, but a handful of certificates of appreciation from Georgian Bluffs, Meaford, Grey County, Owen Sound and MPP Bill Walker.
Sheatre is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1985 at the request of Huron County residents who wanted to tell their stories and address rural issues using interactive theatre. It puts together projects that often engage excluded populations and address high risk social issues through acting, music, dance and writing and film.
Chandler says the theatre company has covered issues that include homophobia, affordable housing, sexual assault, dating violence and consent. Chandler says they've done plays about the struggle of people who cant get jobs because of social stigma, they've done plays about substance abuse, racism, bullying, human trafficking, domestic violence and more.
Chandler also notes Sheatre has also done plays that celebrate the history of the area, or explain the importance of an event, "We did a play about the 100 years of (shipbuilding company) Black Clawson-Kennedy so that people could understand how important that was in our community," says Chandler who explains after the closure, local kids were wondering what everyone was so upset about.
Sheatre has reached 142,775 people in Canada, the US and England through 112 original plays, employed over 500 artists, and engaged almost 9,900 people in 1,240 workshops and events.
After all the years of dedication to her craft, Chandler says receiving such an award gives her goosebumps, "Excellent people have received this honour and to be among that fold, I feel like I'm on a cloud, I feel like the company has been elevated to whole new level...it's like we got the Oscar."
The YMCA Peace Medal was developed in 1987 by the International Committee at the YMCA of Fredericton.
It recognizes those who demonstrate participation, empathy, advocacy, community and empowerment.
Last year's recipients of the Peace Medallion were the indigenous led group whose members are mainly based out of Neyaashiinigmiing at Cape Croker called "Da-Namaamin Moseyang Giw-Ganchigaazjig Kwewag," or "We Will Walk In Prayer For Those Murdered Women."