Development and Peace — Caritas Canada has been working with young people for decades to encourage them to get involved in international solidarity and infuse our movement with energy and passion. We are therefore very pleased that eight youth delegates will be attending our 2022 Orientation Assembly, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from June 16 to 19. Two youth delegates will form part of the panel leading discussions on how best to renew our movement in a synodal way, and all of them will be taking part in a wide range of discussions they care deeply about while forming relationships and assuring their place at the forefront of our actions.
Issues young people are passionate about
During consultations in the lead-up to the Orientation Assembly, young members shared their main concerns with us. It is very important to them that Development and Peace and the Catholic Church in Canada as a whole have a person-centred approach focused on the poorest around the world.
In that regard, climate is an issue our young members feel especially passionate about. As they pointed out, climate talks can sometimes be very top-down, with a lot of emphasis on elite influence and “green” approaches that have ended up displacing people. These young adults know that those who are most affected by the climate crisis are people we cannot see. The climate crisis is a people crisis. Young members feel there is a lot of talk at high levels about reducing greenhouse gases, but not enough about climate financing. Without the latter, people in the Global South are practically forced to continue living and producing in often carbon-heavy ways. That is why our young supporters are so passionate about our projects promoting ecological justice in the Global South. They understand that addressing climate-related issues is intimately connected to the Church’s preferential option for the poor. As one of our youth members recently told us:
I got involved in D&P because I saw it as an opportunity to learn about Catholic social teaching and my responsibilities toward caring for our common home. — Andrea Grace Dsouza, 2022 Orientation Assembly young adult delegate from Manitoba
In terms of how to do so, our young members do not just have passion, but initiative. They know that we need to continue raising awareness of the issues by having conversations with others, doing advocacy work with MPs and attending events. In fact, these young adults make those conversations their mission.
Where they see the movement going
Another issue that young members feel very passionate about is reconciliation for Indigenous peoples. Not a lot of Canadians or Catholics understand the truth of our history in relation to Indigenous peoples, so our young members want us to do more work in this area to educate people.
This is an exciting opportunity! While understanding Development and Peace’s history and mandate, young members envision campaigns that make connections between injustices facing indigenous peoples here in Canada and around the world. As an international solidarity organization, Development and Peace — Caritas Canada is in a unique position to do so. It is also part of our responsibility as Canadians and part of the work we must do as Catholics. Of course, youth members do not want to take support away from our partners in the Global South. Solidarity is not a zero-sum gesture. Instead, young members are thinking about how we can integrate the concerns of Indigenous peoples in Canada into our international solidarity work. They want to reach out to local Indigenous groups and ask them how we can be in solidarity with them, and they want to talk about the issues, be part of networks and publicly support Indigenous initiatives. Without necessarily translating into projects, these efforts can be about promoting justice for Indigenous peoples at home and abroad.
In sum, we are very excited about the youth movement of Development and Peace and are looking forward to discussing these issues in person with the youth delegates at the 2022 Orientation Assembly. There is no doubt that Development and Peace’s young members and supporters, with all their passion, initiative and ideas, will be at the forefront of our initiatives.
About Development and Peace
Development and Peace — Caritas Canada is the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada. It works in partnership with local organizations in over 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin American and the Middle East to create greater justice in the world and to act in solidarity with the most vulnerable people.
For more information about getting involved in Development and Peace as a young adult, please contact Selina, Youth Programs Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.