At the official launch of our new graphic novel series AFRICA IN IMAGES, I had a chance to meet face to face with all the people who worked together to create the first book on the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Roza, or the Courage to Choose Life.
During the launch event I made notes in the empty space around the intense and powerful images on my very first copy of the graphic novel as I listened to our riveting guests. Sister Marie-Bernard Alima, from the Justice and Peace Episcopal Commission of the DRC and Most Rev. Nicolas Djomo, President of the Conference of Bishops of the DRC, spoke powerfully about their work bringing peace to their country.
One of the key moments that stimulated this whole comic project began with a meeting between Soeur Marie Bernard and young people at the College de l’Ascension, where the students wanted to develop something to mobilize people around what was going on. It all came from a desire to empower people, to encourage each other and collaborate on a project of solidarity, with a focus on respecting the initiatives of the people of the DRC and the work of the Commission. Hence the graphic novel-style education campaigns began, highlighting the impact of the violence, but more importantly, the initiatives and empowerment of the Congolese people.
With 60 million Catholics in the Congo, the Church is working full-time to restore human dignity – to renew a respect for the dignity of each person, and to live out this mutual respect. They shared with us their communitarian approach to reconciliation, touching on the physical, moral and spiritual needs of the people. Sister Marie Bernard told us about how the programs allow people who have suffered, and are so discouraged, to be able to stand up again and take up life and have courage.
The Justice and Peace Commission wants all of us to join them in their work of evangelization – to preach the gospel of human dignity. The Commission believes strongly that those who have suffered can and will reflect upon their situation and read their context: where we are, what happened, what can we do. This analysis and reflection work is critical to rebuilding confidence and bringing forth new leadership = confidence gives courage. The graphic novels speaks to the courage of women to rebuild, to lead their families when their men are knocked down. The Congolese women are saying “Get up, Come on, We can do this, Together we are strong”!
For Sister Marie Bernard the most inspiring thing she has experienced is this link between confidence and courage. How? Again and again Sister Marie Bernard has met a woman who doesn’t know how to read, and through learning this important skill she finds her voice and gains confidence. This woman then takes her new capacity to the next level and leads her community to humanize their society during and after the dehumanizing experiences of war. From hell and back – this is the power of believing in the dignity of the person.
Join us in supporting the Justice and Peace Commission of the Congo with Development and Peace. Stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who have the Courage to Choose Life!
by Genevieve Gallant
Read the comic: http://youth.devp.org/2011/10/urgent-action-the-congo/
Day of Solidarity – June 20th in support of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
Kairos: Suicide rates among Indigenous youth between 15 and 24 years are five to six times higher than the national average. For Inuit youth in particular, it’s 11 times higher. Suicide accounts for 25% of all deaths among Indigenous youth (Health Canada).
When confronted with such despair, it’s easy to feel hopeless and helpless. Becoming aware of the legacy of colonization is not easy. We may feel ashamed of the inequality that divides Indigenous peoples of Canada—First Nations, Inuit and Métis—from other Canadians. We are challenged to recognize how governments and corporations have failed to honour the rights to the land and self-determination of Canada’s first inhabitants.
Yet these realities don’t have the last word. Together, whether Indigenous or newcomers, we seek to heal and renew the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people because we know that what causes harm, inequality and injustice cannot be of God.Together, we find signs of hope and we dare to dream the promise of right relationship.
In November 2010, the Government of Canada’s endorsement of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples represented a step towards right relation with Indigenous peoples in Canada. KAIROS and our member churches have long called for Canada’s endorsement of this important global human rights standard.
On June 20 KAIROS member churches, communities and Indigenous partners will join in a Day of Solidarity urging Canada to take concrete steps, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to implement the UN Declaration. We will bring banners to Ottawa calling for the human rights of Indigenous peoples to be respected. This is followed by National Aboriginal Day on June 21, which offers many opportunities to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous peoples to the history and present of our country.
We ask you support these events with your presence and your prayers. Hold in prayer our common hopes for a just future, together in this beautiful land. And bring those prayers to action in your faith community and home.
One: God of all people, Great Spirit, Holy One All: Listen to our prayer. One: Give your blessing this day to the First Peoples of this land. All: Guide the elders and give them strength; One: Comfort and renew men and women in times of sorrow and despair, All: Give grace and pride to children as the daughters and sons of your creation. One: Hear our prayer as we gather today to commit to right relations. All: Give us a sense of justice, an awareness of new beginnings, that wrongs may be redressed, rights respected and a new covenant forged. One: May those who have used this land with little thought or regard learn to love and respect this gracious heritage; All: May those who find your presence in the land be free to model its grateful use to all. One: In common life and common dignity… All: May all people receive from you a new humanity. Amen.
FIVE THINGS YOU AND YOUR COMMUNITY CAN DO:
Build relationships.Learn whose traditional territory you live and work on, and learn about your local treaty or treaty negotiations. Get to know your local First Nations, Inuit or Métis community. Contact your Friendship Centre; attend public powwows, Treaty Days or ceremonies. Connect with your denomination’s right relationship networks.
Learn.Learn more about the Canadian history we’re not taught in school. Host a KAIROS workshop on this: contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the reality of residential schools, even if your denomination was not involved in running the schools. Go to TRC hearings; learn more about local survivors’ groups. Learn about the Indigenous membership and perspectives of your own faith tradition.
Workfor an end to violence against Indigenous women, who face a rate of violence many times higher than in the general population. Support vigils in your community, and support the work of groups like Families of Sisters in Spirit, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Walk 4 Justice, and more.
Go global. Learn about the UN Declaration and the worldwide concerns and movement that brought it to birth after thirty years of work. Reflect on the struggles that made the Declaration necessary, and think about how to put into action here in Canada.
KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives is a faithful movement for human rights and ecological justice, uniting the local and the global.
Our founding members are: The Anglican Church of Canada, the Christian Reformed Church in North America, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the United Church of Canada, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Religious Conference, the Mennonite Central Committee of Canada, and the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).
This year, in addition to the printed material, Development and Peace has also created an interactive blog that will use the testimony of members to publicize the work being carried out by its partners in the Global South.
You will find photos, videos and articles to share, a calendar of events and all the resources you need to a rocking Share Lent in your school or parish!
This year, for the very first time, you can participate in our online fundraising efforts for Share Lent by creating a personal page. Offer your talents to those who need them (music, gardening, cooking) and, in exchange, ask your entourage to give to Development and Peace.
“Welcome to Development and Peace. Please fasten your seatbelt to prepare for the ride of your life!”
This is what I could have been told as I landed in Ottawa this past September 2010. I arrived in Ontario, a western Canadian girl, trying my very best to have no preconceived notions. I came as an undergraduate student with the Laurentian Leadership Centre, a semester long internship program with Trinity Western University, hoping to cap off my degree in International Studies with an insider’s look at a development organization.
What drew me specifically to Development and Peace is the fact that it is a Catholic-based organization working, in direct relationship with the Church, guided by Catholic social teaching, to effectively transform the world in love through social justice action. My prior limited experience with D&P set me as an open book to be written in.
Well, rides and books aside (I am the analogy queen) interning in the Eastern Ontario Regional office was a wonderful experience. The small office—my supervisor and I comprised the office workforce—saw a flurry of activity from rallies to speaking engagements to creative adventures. I quickly discovered the mission of D&P, the basics of the operation, and the breadth of issues that the organization has tackled.
The timing of my placement allowed me to jump head in to the work conducted in support of Bill C-300. Despite the bill’s defeat in the House of Commons the entire process was such a great opportunity to be amidst the action. It opened lines of meaningful dialogue, challenging me to dig deeper and ask serious questions outside of the academic setting. I met such inspiring, passionate people. For me, it was a firsthand chance to see passion put into action—the way conviction is meant to challenge our comfortable lives.
Much of the remainder of my internship experience was meaningful in a different way. It was my turn to put faith and conviction into action. Our office moved forward in what I have coined the “Ottawa Catholic Schools Initiative”. It has been a concerted (and successful) effort to further partner with the Ottawa Catholic schools and surrounding area to share our passion and educate students on issues; it is specifically aimed to be interactive, for students to feel empowered and inspired, to know that they can make a difference. How this crystallized was through collaborative efforts with chaplains and presentations to a number of schools in the area.
Now the time has come to leave. I have met amazing people who are the lifeblood of D&P. I have been inspired by people who stand for change, who are willing to change their own lives to see transformation become a reality. I have been challenged. And now I fasten my seatbelt to go home…
by Suzanne Cailliau
(former) Intern to the Eastern Ontario Regional Animator with Development and Peace
Happy New Year! With the amazing fundraising and advocacy we accomplished in 2010… I can’t wait to see what else we can do together!
Just before Christmas our 2011 THINKfast kits filled Canada Post mailboxes east and west. Thanks to Natalie, our Youth Programs Intern from the fall, and the whole THINKfast team here in Toronto we are thrilled to be sharing with you our newest THINKfast in print and online!
A new coiled book format
Revamped directions and planning tools
New or transformed resources on our campaign WATER FOR ALL!
Alternative activities uploaded online
Extra resources on your DVD
THINKfast online fundraising right here on the blog
This past year we showed the world the meaning of generous – Canadians raised 20 MILLION for emergency relief and reconstruction in Haiti and 7 MILLION for the same in Pakistan. 1 MILLION of this came from schools and school boards: elementary, high schools, colleges and universities.
AMAZING. And then, thanks to your THINKfast efforts, we raised over $200,000 in much needed funds for justice and peace in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
Last Sunday afternoon – amidst thousands of police officers, mob-like media, a fence stretching on for miles, the leaders of the 20 most affluent countries in the world, and a city gone completely awry – hundreds of peace-loving, spirit-sounding, song-singing activists gathered at the corner of King and Bay to speak to God.
I had the privilege of being part of the D&P youth delegation to Huntsville and Toronto for the G8/G20 leaders summits.
This peace vigil, hosted by the Student Christian Movement and Christian Peacemaker Teams, was the last leg of our journey after a long weekend of calling on our leaders to take action on food sovereignty and the rights of small-scale farmers in the Global South.
It was evident to me from attending another protest earlier in the day, and from just walking the streets of Toronto on Sunday, that the city was on edge. The heavy police presence created tension and anxiety, and the violent tactics used by a handful of protesters the previous day had frustrated many.
But for a short time, this prayer vigil was a sanctuary in a broken world.
We marched – singing Kyrie Elision, chanting Alleluia, holding signs and banners with messages of peace and support.
We marched – families, young and old, Christian and Jewish, Catholic and Muslim, men and women, religious and lay people – all committed, prayerfully present and all learning from each other.
We marched – one united, peaceful force, bent on restoring hope and love to a world ravaged by despair and violence.
We sat – faced with no other choice as a line of police blocked our movement towards the fence.
We sat – in solidarity with the oppressed.
We sat – praying for justice for all those that are persecuted.
We sat –in spite of the riot police and their efforts to create fear and seclusion.
We sat – and sang to the music of our brothers’ and sisters’ struggles for justice. ¡Presente!
We sat – and vowed to “keep on marching forward, never turning back”.
And as the tension rose between police and demonstrators, we sang until the fear and hatred had subsided and we could once again recognize and celebrate our common humanity.
The Spirit is alive and it flows through those with a hunger for justice and a thirst for peace.
I am honoured to live among such devoted activists who refuse to surrender to the propagation of fear and the seduction of apathy.
To all those who work for, who play for, who sing for, who long for, who create for, who pray for peace – blessed are you.
May this vigil serve as a lasting reminder of the importance and power of peace in a world that often dismisses it.
by Kaitlyn Duthie-Kannikkatt, Eastern Ontario Youth Rep
On June 24th I was fortunate to be a part of a small group of Development and Peace members that camped out at Arrowhead Provincial Park in Huntsville Ontario.
This year Development and Peace’s campaign revolved around urging our Prime Minister to put Food Sovereignty on the G8 agenda. I have spent much of my time as a volunteer member with D&P, educating youth throughout central Ontario on the injustices surrounding small scale farmers in the global south. For me this was a chance to not just speak about the injustices but to take a stand. As the cliché goes, I was able to practice what I preach.
Participating for my first time as an activist and being a voice for 1.02 billion voiceless who go hungry every day is a feeling that can’t be described. I have always been taught that it is equally unjust to know and do nothing as it is to commit an injustice itself. As citizens in a democratic society we are asking our government to take action and increase support for small scale farming, the poorest profession in the world.
Our plan for the few days we had committed to being present in Huntsville was to find a creative way to get our message across to those who chose to listen.
We also felt it was important to educate as many people as we could on the importance in supporting small scale farmers and the injustices they face on a daily basis.
As a group we created a piece of street theater relating to the world cup. We were filmed by an OPP officer in the public demonstration area who was responsible for having footage sent to the G8 summit. The concept of the world cup match was between small scale farmers and the G8 Industrial Agricultural Machine (IAM).
The small farmers had a tough go of it – they were fouled constantly without benefit of referee intervention. This action was an excellent depiction of reality for many current small scale farmers both in the Global South and even locally here in Canada.
Saturday was a very special day because we were joined by a bus load of Development and Peace members from the Archdiocese of Peterborough.
In the heart of Huntsville we were blessed to participate in mass presided by Fr. Bob Holmes. Incorporating the sacrament of the Eucharist into our peaceful demonstration was an experience I will never forget.
My time in Huntsville has left me with an overwhelming sense of hope that change is possible and will undoubtedly occur as we as Canadian citizens continue to work in solidarity with the oppressed throughout the Global South.
I was struck this morning by the reading of Acts 1, 15-17, 20-26 that mention the criteria in order to become or to be considered an apostle. Since one of the twelve had failed, he had to be replaced to preserve their sacred number: the new people of God is built on the Apostles in the same way that ancient Israel proceeds from the twelve sons of Jacob.
In order to be chosen as apostle, Matthias must have followed Jesus from his baptism to the ascension in order to “become (with the other apostles) a witness of his resurrection”. “Thus to have lived with Christ, to have listened to his teachings, to have shared in his intimacy, to have eaten and drunk with him after his resurrection from the dead, is the irreplacable experience that allows the apostles to speak of him with assurance and which gave them the strength to seal their witnessing in their blood” (free translation from the French commentary in Magnificat for the mass of the 15th May, 2010).
I have met people in Honduras whose lives are at stake because of their witnessing of Christ in the poor. They are a non-violent Christian resistance and through their presence to the poor they teach me that to be with the poor you must have witnessed the baptism of empowerment, that you must eat and drink with the poor, that you must share the intimacy of their pain and their hopes and be ready to give your life for them to ascend to the justice and peace that God desires for all.
In short, to be an apostle of justice means to speak the truth of injustice and accompany people in their struggle and be ready to face death in order for justice to emerge and for life to rise.
I am humbled by this witnessing in the name of Jesus. I am simultaneously attracted and repelled by it, probably because I realize that I am not close enough to the poor. As this trip draws to an end, I pray that God frees me enough so that my witnessing, my life as a priest and as a missionary, be truly apostolic. Even in my short visit here, I see that being apostles of Jesus and apostles of justice are one and the same in order to witness the resurrection.