Everything is connected: Together, we can save our Common Home

March 17, 2017
by 
Suzanne Slobodian, Jubilee Campaign Coordinating Officer
Sister Mary John Mananza, OSB, Philippines

“Everything is connected” was the central theme of two events organized as part of the celebrations of the Jubilee Year, held at the Centre St-Pierre in Montreal: a public forum on Thursday, March 9th, and the following day, an organizational seminar bringing together members of the National Council, employees, three youth members, as well as several international guests and partners.

Before the public forum commenced on Thursday evening, the soft lyrical vocals and guitar music of Just Woân, a singer-songwriter from Cameroon, created a warm welcome for attendees as they mingled and had the chance to learn more about a peace project carried out by one of Development and Peace’s partners in Colombia, the Asociacion Campesina de Antioquia (ACA). Entitled, PAZ Arte AL CAMPO, this project used the artistic process of mural painting to help Colombian peasants remember their traditions and way of life and encourage hope for the future.

After an introduction from Josianne Gauthier, Director of the In-Canada Programs, followed by welcoming words from Jean-Denis Lampron, President of the National Council, Hélène Tremblay-Boyko, Vice President of the National Council, and Serge Langlois, our new Director General, the panel began. First, Jean Saldanha shared her experience at CIDSE and how the need for a paradigm shift arose. Then, each of the four panelists had 15 minutes to share their respective experiences. A question and answer period followed and the evening ended at 9:30 pm.

  • Jean Saldanha, CIDSE, on why a new paradigm shift is needed
  • Devlin Kuyek of GRAIN Canada discusses the importance of small farmers, biodiversity and the threats they face
  • Luz Estella Cifuentes of the Peasant’s Association of Antioquia, Colombia (ACA) talks about how displaced Colombians have moved back to their lands and how community groups are working together for peace and justice
  • Sister Mary John Mananza, OSB, a Missionary Benedictine sister and explains why her activism is based on the interconnection between social justice, women’s empowerment and ecological justice.

To hear their stories, via podcast, click here:

The following morning at 9 am, many of the participants met again, at the Centre St-Pierre, but in a more private context. We first experienced a mistica, inspired by spiritual rituals from Latin America, followed by a summary of the previous evening, an historical overview of Development and Peace, a few words about Laudato Si, and discussions around the notion of partnership, using the example of one of our partners, the MST (Movement of the Landless) of Brazil. The afternoon's main activity consisted of a showcase of alternatives for possible paradigm shifts: eight presenters generously shared their stories and answered questions three times, with participants choosing from the "showcase" offered - a very dynamic activity!

Personally, I found the forum provided several avenues of reflection that give me hope that we may one day, together, “save our common home”.

© Photos by Gilles Pilette for Development and Peace

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