Inspiring women who are part of our history

Gabrielle Lachance Photo


Gabrielle Lachance

Canada

Ms. Lachance was the first - and to this day the only - female Executive Director of Development and Peace. She entered into her position in 1988, and over the next 10 years moved the organization towards becoming one of the most influential in the Church in Canada and society in general.

In her first months as Executive Director, she helped lead several Development and Peace campaigns calling for economic sanctions against South Africa in protest of apartheid. Three months after the liberation of Nelson Mandela in February 1990, she participated in the creation of the Nelson Mandela Fund, alongside Mandela himself, who had become leader of the African National Congress (ANC), and Joe Clark, who at the time was serving as Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs. The fund was created to support educational resources in South Africa.

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Carmen Quintana photo

Carmen Quintana

Chile

When she was 18 years old, Carmen Gloria Quintana was set on fire by the Chilean military. They had arrested her while she was participating in a protest against the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. With second and third degree burns on 62% of her body, she was thrown into the back of a truck, dumped like garbage in a ditch and left to die.

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Berta Caceres photo

Berta Cáceres

Honduras

Berta Cáceres was an Indigenous leader, mother, midwife and environmental activist from Honduras who was assassinated in March 2016. Berta, a friend of Development and Peace, led a struggle to stop the building of four hydro-electric dams. They would have destroyed a river that her people rely on and it was a project in which they were given no say.

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Hanan Halima photo

Hanan Halima

Syria

Hanan Halima is a 34-year-old entrepreneur who fled her native Syria in 2013 due to the ongoing war there. She went to Egypt, where she took part in the creation of the Syrian Women’s Network, which encourages cooperation between Syrian women activists and organizations.

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Rigoberta Menchú Tum photo

Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Guatemala

Rigoberta Menchú is a Quiche political activist who was born on January 9th, 1959. When still very young, she became involved in social reform activities through the Catholic Church, and became prominent in the women’s rights movement. Several members of her family were murdered during her youth, including her father and mother, because of their political involvement.

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Norma McDonald photo

Sr. Norma McDonald, Sisters of Holy Cross

Saint-Boniface, Manitoba

Brought up in North Vancouver, Sr. Norma McDonald entered the Sisters of Holy Cross when she was 21 years old. She started teaching in Alberta and Québec and then pursued her career in education in Manitoba at École Lagimodière, Collège Louis-Riel and the University of Saint-Boniface, where she founded a Development and Peace student group in 1993. She received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Development and Peace Certificate of Recognition in 2014.

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Sr. Roma De Robertis photo

Sr. Roma De Robertis, Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception

Saint John, N.B.

Three Alberta laywomen invited Sr. Roma De Robertis to become active with Development and Peace when she was in her ’20s. Now almost 60, she is more grateful than ever to be a member. Her immigrant parents — survivors of war and poverty – instilled in her a strong sense of responsibility to the common good. This was deepened through ministries as a Catholic journalist, campus minister and adult educator in western and eastern Canada.

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Sr. Marie Zarowny photo

Sr. Marie Zarowny, Sisters of Sainte Anne

Victoria, B.C

Sr. Marie Zarowny is a Sister of Saint Anne currently serving as Province Co-Leader in Victoria, B.C. For 40 years, Sr. Marie has assisted Christian faith-based communities in hearing and responding to the Gospel call to social transformation and to deepen their understanding of the underlying causes of poverty, oppression and violence.

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Gabrielle Lachance

Ms. Lachance was the first - and to this day the only - female Executive Director of Development and Peace. She entered into her position in 1988, and over the next 10 years moved the organization towards becoming one of the most influential in the Church in Canada and society in general.

In her first months as Executive Director, she helped lead several Development and Peace campaigns calling for economic sanctions against South Africa in protest of apartheid. Three months after the liberation of Nelson Mandela in February 1990, she participated in the creation of the Nelson Mandela Fund, alongside Mandela himself, who had become leader of the African National Congress (ANC), and Joe Clark, who at the time was serving as Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs. The fund was created to support educational resources in South Africa.

She believed that “…the causes engendering the distortions in the development process are structural in nature. These problems must be tackled at their source, where the decisions affecting Third World countries are made – in other words, at the level of large international institutions and national governments.” From that time on, Development and Peace has developed education campaigns that seek to connect injustices occurring in the Global South to Canadian and international policies.

This extraordinary women, who passed away in 2014, will always remain in our hearts.

Carmen Quintana

Chile

When she was 18 years old, Carmen Gloria Quintana was set on fire by the Chilean military. They had arrested her while she was participating in a protest against the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. With second and third degree burns on 62% of her body, she was thrown into the back of a truck, dumped like garbage in a ditch and left to die.

Her friend Rodrigo Rojas suffered the same fate, but sadly, unlike Carmen, he did not survive the ordeal. Development and Peace supported Carmen’s visit to the United Nations in Geneva so she could give her personal testimony.

Her words moved ambassadors to tears and led to strong international indictments against the brutal regime of General Pinochet. Carmen now works as a scientific attaché at the Chilean embassy in Ottawa and is the mother of three daughters. Hers is a story of true human resurrection.

Berta Cáceres

Honduras

Berta Cáceres was an Indigenous leader, mother, midwife and environmental activist from Honduras who was assassinated in March 2016. Berta, a friend of Development and Peace, led a struggle to stop the building of four hydro-electric dams. They would have destroyed a river that her people rely on and it was a project in which they were given no say.

Berta was murdered in her home by armed men believed to be connected to the military and the company building the dams. We remember Berta and other women activists like her, who work for the cause of social justice, often in the face of threats to their lives.


“I cannot freely walk on my territory or swim in the sacred river and I am separated from my children because of the threats. I cannot live in peace, I am always thinking about being killed or kidnapped. But I refuse to go into exile. I am a human rights fighter and I will not give up this fight.”

Hanan Halima

Syria

Hanan Halima is a 34-year-old entrepreneur who fled her native Syria in 2013 due to the ongoing war there. She went to Egypt, where she took part in the creation of the Syrian Women’s Network, which encourages cooperation between Syrian women activists and organizations.

Following political instability in Egypt, she went to Turkey, where still lives. She co-founded Aosus, a Development and Peace partner. It aims to empower Syrians so they can work for freedom, dignity and justice, and respect for their basic rights.


“I dream of seeing women able to choose the lifestyle that they want without anyone else interfering in their choice or preventing them from doing whatever they want. I dream that the concept that a woman must have a man or a husband to be secure will change. I dream that girls will have better opportunities for education, study and work, and be able to live in safety. I hope that everyone knows that there are women who are suffering from injustice and I hope that everyone is talking about coming to their aid to help them overcome injustice and poverty.”

Rigoberta Menchú Tum

Guatemala

Rigoberta Menchú is a Quiche political activist who was born on January 9th, 1959. When still very young, she became involved in social reform activities through the Catholic Church, and became prominent in the women’s rights movement. Several members of her family were murdered during her youth, including her father and mother, because of their political involvement.

She eventually had to flee to Mexico, where she continued her work. Her deep commitment towards the rights of Indigenous peoples and peace earned her the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

She asked Development and Peace program officer for Central America, Marthe Lapierre, to accompany her to the award ceremony in Sweden in recognition of Development and Peace’s support to her organization the Committee of the Peasant Union.


“Only together can we move forward, so that there is light and hope for all women on the planet.”

Sr. Norma McDonald, Sisters of Holy Cross

(Saint-Boniface, Manitoba)

Brought up in North Vancouver, Sr. Norma McDonald entered the Sisters of Holy Cross when she was 21 years old. She started teaching in Alberta and Québec and then pursued her career in education in Manitoba at École Lagimodière, Collège Louis-Riel and the University of Saint-Boniface, where she founded a Development and Peace student group in 1993. She received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Development and Peace Certificate of Recognition in 2014.

Her years of fostering social justice awareness about the Global South have inspired her to live with deeper integrity by educating herself and have called her to face the injustices which are a part of our Canadian reality. According to Sister Norma, the greatest struggle we have in Canada at the present time is between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. Thus, Project “réconciliACTION” was born and is an apt description of her deep desire to create relationships which lead to reconciliation and healing.


“The vision and principles of Development and Peace go hand in hand with mine. From the beginning of my teaching career until now I have shared my belief that each of us has a responsibility to help the vulnerable. Over the years, Development and Peace has provided me with concrete resources through their education campaigns. These have not only helped me bring awareness to the young people I work with, but also give me a context where I can put my Christian faith into action.”


“Whether it is in the global North or South, the repercussions of colonialism have brought about much injustice. Creating a more just and compassionate society can only happen if we work in solidarity with one another. I love working with young people and over the years, each person who has engaged in this work with me offers the witness that this transformation is possible!”

Sr. Roma De Robertis, Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception

(Saint John, N.B.)

Three Alberta laywomen invited Sr. Roma De Robertis to become active with Development and Peace when she was in her ’20s. Now almost 60, she is more grateful than ever to be a member. Her immigrant parents — survivors of war and poverty – instilled in her a strong sense of responsibility to the common good. This was deepened through ministries as a Catholic journalist, campus minister and adult educator in western and eastern Canada.

Heeding a call to deeper commitment, Sr. Roma entered the Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception in 1984 and has been a member of the leadership circle since 2010. Religious life continues to expand her awareness about our collective responsibility to social and ecological justice and spirituality. As disciples of Jesus today, our vocation is to good global citizenship in an unfolding universe created for love and justice.


“I have long been grateful for and passionate about Development and Peace. Faithfully embodying Scripture and Catholic social teaching for 50 years, Development and Peace nurtures vital multicultural, multi-generational and interfaith relationships. It informs, inspires and advocates for humanity while honouring God’s precious Earth. I cherish Development and Peace’s ‘big picture’ approach which – like rich Indigenous cultures – carefully considers future generations.”

Photo by James Walsh, Rod Stears Photography (Saint John, N.B.)

Sr. Marie Zarowny, Sisters of Sainte Anne

Victoria, B.C

Sr. Marie Zarowny is a Sister of Saint Anne currently serving as Province Co-Leader in Victoria, B.C. For 40 years, Sr. Marie has assisted Christian faith-based communities in hearing and responding to the Gospel call to social transformation and to deepen their understanding of the underlying causes of poverty, oppression and violence.

From 1977 to 1984, she served as the first coordinator of the Social Justice Office of the Diocese of Victoria. During those years, she actively promoted and supported Development and Peace committees throughout the Diocese and served on its National Education Committee.

Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, both on Vancouver Island and in the Northwest Territories, has also been a priority for Sr. Marie. During the last 20 years, she has worked for a just and compassionate response to the legacy of Residential Schools and fostered education among Canadians to the continuing injustices faced by Canada’s First Nations.

Sr. Marie has a BEd (Sec) from the University of Victoria and an MA in Theology (Justice and Peace) from Maryknoll School of Theology in New York State. She has been awarded honorary degrees from Anna Maria College in Paxton, MA and St. Mark’s College in Vancouver, B.C.

“More than ever, today we hear the cries of those who have been deemed expendable and cast aside and of the Earth itself. The Gospel and our very humanity impel us to respond, not only by meeting immediate needs but especially by bringing about the transformation of values and systems that create such conditions. We can do so only by linking with organizations such as Development and Peace that work collectively and internationally for a caring and just society.”