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New members elected to national council at Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada’s first national annual general assembly

MONTREAL, February 6, 2023 – Four new members were elected to Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada’s 15-member national council at an annual general assembly (AGA) held online on Saturday, February 4. A new executive was also elected, with Brenda Arakaza taking on a second year as president.

The AGA was the product of a long reflection and consultation with the national council and our 11,000+ members that was aimed at making our organization even more democratic. Historically, AGAs involved only the 21 national members. This time, 12 youth representatives, two representatives nominated by each diocese, and two bishops served as delegates with voting rights at the AGA. The proceedings were opened to others including ordinary members and staff, who could attend as observers. A total of 178 people from across Canada attended.

“The idea was to unite the membership across the country, taking advantage of people’s new level of comfort with Zoom,” executive director Carl Hétu explained. “We also wanted to strengthen the culture of openness and transparency. This is a people’s movement, so people are welcome at our AGA!”

The move proved to be popular, with 178 people attending the AGA from all over Canada. Live French and English interpretation ensured that language was not a barrier to participation.

The Most Rev. Raymond Poisson, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, opened the AGA with a welcome address. Chairing the assembly, Arakaza did a land acknowledgement from Winnipeg, Man., and invited attendees to do the same for their locations in the chat window.

Arakaza then delivered her president’s report, which included an overview of the new structure of the national council and the hiring of Hétu as executive director. This was followed by reports from the governance, membership services, international partnerships, youth advisory and orientation assembly committees. Arakaza then introduced the ongoing strategic planning process that has stemmed from the orientation assembly.

Treasurer Tim Turner presented the approved audited financial statements, and the assembly renewed the auditing contract with MNP.

The composition of the national council now stands as follows:

Executive committee

  • President: Brenda Arakaza (Francophone youth representative)
  • Vice-president: Tashia Toupin (West)
  • Treasurer: Danny Gillis (Atlantic)
  • Secretary: Frank Fohr (Ontario)
  • Member: Most Rev. Pierre Goudreault (Bishop, Quebec)


  • Most Rev. Peter Hundt (Bishop, Atlantic)
  • Most Rev. Pierre-Olivier Tremblay (Bishop, Ontario, new member)
  • Most Rev. Jon Hansen (Bishop, West)
  • Don Devine (Atlantic, new member)
  • Simone Fournier (Quebec)
  • Boris Polanski (Quebec)
  • Jason Noble (Quebec, member at large)
  • Teresa McKerral (West, new member)
  • Gabrielle Dupuis (Ontario, new member)
  • Reanne Laurie (Anglophone youth representative)

“Once again, the Holy Spirit has inspired us to give ourselves a strong, committed national council. I am blessed to work with such visionary and talented people,” Arakaza said, adding “Christopher Duncanson-Hales, Tim Turner and Bishop Guy Desrochers, thank you for helping steer us in difficult waters through your wise and noble service on the national council.”

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About Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada

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, contact:

Minaz Kerawala
Communications and Public Relations Advisor
Development and Peace ― Caritas Canada
514 257-8710 ext. 328 | mkerawala@devp.org

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