Photo: Pyramid of shoes in Montreal. Click on the photos for a larger view.
Handicap International (Canada) held its fourth annual pyramid of shoes in support of landmine and cluster bomb victims in downtown Montreal today.
The NGO invited members of the public to throw their old shoes on the pile to show solidarity with the estimated 500,000 (mostly civilian) people who have lost limbs to these indiscriminant weapons of war.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions became international law on August 1, 2010. To date, 108 countries have signed the treaty and 40 countries have ratified it.
Canada has signed the treaty but has not yet ratified it. This has not gone unnoticed by the NGO community.
In her speech to the crowd, Claire Fehrenbach, director of Handicap International, asked the Canadian government to ratify the treaty as soon as possible and help victims of cluster bombs.
"We need to provide assistance to the victims," said Ms. Fehrenbach. "We also need to help their communities."
In an email interview, a spokesperson with the Department of Foreign Affairs said: "Canada participated actively in the negotiation of the new Convention on Cluster Munitions (Oslo Process) and was pleased to be among the first of 94 states to sign the Convention when it opened for signature in Oslo in December 2008. It is a requirement that domestic Canadian legislation to ensure compliance with a new treaty or Convention be in place, before Canada would ratify the instrument."
Paul Hannon, executive director of Mines Action Canada, reminded the crowd that much work remains to be done and said that events like the one put on today, remind people to recommit themselves to the job at hand.
"Let's cross these weapons off the world's "to do" list, said Mr. Hannon.
After the speeches, a demining demonstration was put on by Philipe Giguere of Handicap International.
As well, members of the public were invited to try walking with a prosthetic.
To learn more about the cluster bomb issue, please click here.
Photo: Paul Hannon (Mines Action Canada) and ClaireFehrenbach (Handicap International), in front of the pyramid of shoes in Montreal on Saturday.
Photo: Philipe Giguere of Handicap International, demonstrated how to clear a minefield.