People and Planet First Part 2

By Dean Dettloff, Animator for Central Ontario

The year 2022 marks the 55th anniversary of Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada, and we are excited to continue our work together this fall!

Over the years, Development and Peace has supported many partners in their struggles for alternatives to unjust global political and economic structures. Our efforts contributed to the success of Nobel Peace Prize winners like Mayan K’iche’ activist Rigoberta Menchú in Guatemala (in 1992) and Nelson Mandela (in 1993), who led the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. In 2017, another of our partners, PAX, received the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.

But at Development and Peace, we know that no one becomes a hero of social justice alone, and for every person or group recognized by an honour like the Nobel Peace Prize, there are multitudes more on the frontlines of the struggle. In the first part of our People and Planet First campaign, we introduced three such frontline partners: CEHPRODEC in Honduras; Development and Partnership in Action in Cambodia; and the Development Council of Andohatapenaka in Madagascar. Each of these organizations has been instrumental in supporting grassroots activists, farmers and land defenders, and they are training the next generation. Who knows who the next Nobel Peace Prize winner supported by our partners might be?

In the meantime, as we continue our People and Planet First campaign this fall, we have two major tasks: renewing our movement and deepening our advocacy.

A new recruitment drive

To plant seeds for the next 55 years, Development and Peace launched an official recruitment drive on September 24 that will last until December 3. Our goal is to recruit 550 new members. Becoming a member costs a one-time fee of just $10 and is free for people under 35. Share Year-Round monthly donors are also automatically considered members.

At Development and Peace, everyone has a “who” and a “what”―who recruited them, and what makes them stay. You might have had a conversation during a coffee break, bumped into someone a few times at rallies, or heard a member give a parish talk during a campaign. Maybe you stay with us because of our unique practice of partnership, our commitment to Catholic Social Teaching, or a profound experience you had on a solidarity trip or during an advocacy action. These stories are what make Development and Peace a living and breathing movement. We want to multiply those “whos” and “whats” this fall!

Every new member recruited during this drive will be entered, along with the person who recruited them, into a draw for an all-expenses-paid trip to Montreal, where they will have the opportunity to meet one of our partners coming to Canada on an in-person solidarity visit*.

To help you with recruitment, Development and Peace is providing a new membership postcard, a new institutional brochure and more resources, all available to download and print on our website. We will celebrate our recruitment drive with a new member party on December 3, 2022.

Continuing our advocacy for legislation to rein in Canadian corporations

New members also mean more hands to carry out our campaigns!

Despite the pandemic, Development and Peace members turned out in force last fall, collecting nearly 25,000 petition signatures and meeting 36 Members of Parliament, calling for Canada to adopt mandatory human rights and due diligence (mHREDD) legislation.

We know the road will be long to achieve such legislation that would compel Canadian companies to prevent abuses of human rights and the environment throughout their supply chains and would give affected communities outside of Canada legal recourse when things go wrong. That’s why this fall, we will continue to push for this legislation and expand our efforts.

Since launching the campaign in 2021, we have already seen new developments. Private Member’s bill C-262 touches on aspects of mHREDD. One of our partners, CEAS in Peru, also wrote an open letter in the spring, calling for mHREDD legislation in Canada. Through due diligence advocacy, we have a chance to amplify the voice of people in the Global South.

Have you already run the petition campaign at your parish? See if you can encourage a neighboring parish, another justice group or a church from another denomination to take it on!

Have you already met with your MP? Follow up with them and find out what they’re doing to advance due diligence legislation in Parliament. There are 338 MPs in Canada. See if there are any nearby who have not heard about mHREDD. We want to make it so that no MP can say they have never heard about mHREDD, thanks to the hard work of Development and Peace members across the country.

As we take our People and Planet First campaign back into our parishes this fall, let us come together in a spirit of solidarity, ready to multiply our efforts as we join with our partners in the Global South! Let us plant good seeds that can be celebrated and harvested 55 years from now and further.

* Because visa regimes in Western countries like Canada are deliberately and unfairly restrictive against people from the Global South, we cannot predict which of the international partners we invite will actually be able to visit Canada.

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