Calgary

Saima Jamal accepts YMCA Calgary apology after peace award debacle

The YMCA has apologized to Calgary activist Saima Jamal for the way it rescinded her peace medal award.

Award ceremony cancelled, but other recipients to be awarded medals in private

Saima Jamal said she was shocked after the YMCA rescinded a peace award it had told her she would receive. (CBC)

The YMCA has apologized to Calgary activist Saima Jamal for the way it rescinded her peace medal award. 

Jamal was informed a few weeks ago that she would be given the award, but the organization changed its mind last week to say it would not be issuing the Community Peace Initiatives medal in the individual category.

The community activist had arranged a number of pro-Palestinian protests downtown during the summer — one of them that turned violent and resulted in some injuries.

But Jamal says she had no control over the situation.

She says she accepts the apology but added the decision had a huge impact.

"This rescinding of the reward created such a huge morale killer for the entire community that its ripple effects has been immense," said Jamal.

Decision not reversed

But while there has been an apology, the decision has not been reversed.

The YMCA cancelled the Calgary Peace Medals Ceremony but will award the medals to other recipients privately.

YMCA officials will not say why it rescinded Jamal's award but a representative from the Calgary Jewish Federation approached the organization with concerns.

Jeffrey Smith, the chair of the community relations committee for the federation, says they were worried about how people would interpret the decision to give the award to Jamal.

In a written statement, the YMCA says that the decision not to hand out the one award was made "after careful and fulsome consideration."

It also says it is working to ensure a similar situation does not happen again.

now