Join Canada’s First Nations’ ‘Day of Action’


2008 edition announced here.

 

 

 

As members and friends of Canada’s original peoples, aboriginal peoples, prepare for Friday’s Day of Action – be it peaceful protests or inconvenient blockades – we might all remind ourselves just how bad things are here for so many, and why they might be more than a little bit fed up!

CTV – First Nations communities in crisis: report

Members and friends of my faith community, Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church, will be joining the rally and march Friday at noon from the area near Convocation Hall on King’s College Circle (U of T) to Queen’s Park.

THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA CALLS FOR JUSTICE IN SUPPORT OF FIRST NATIONS DAY OF ACTION – FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2007.

The Assembly of First Nations (AFN)[1] is calling on all Canadians to a National Day of Action to support Aboriginal struggles for justice and treaty rights on June 29, 2007. The National Day of Action is a day for Canadians and First Nations to stand together to raise awareness about the situation of First Nations and the solutions that will improve that situation. The day will call attention to the urgency of securing a better future for First Nations children through addressing poverty; and upholding respect, dignity and fairness for First Nations.

The United Church calls on the Government of Canada to honour First Nations treaty and land rights with the firm conviction that access to land and resources are central to ending poverty in First Nations communities in Canada.

Recognizing our own complicity in the attainment of First Nations rights in Canada, the General Council of the United Church of Canada is calling on its members to support First Nations justice and right relationship through:

Prayers or organizing a prayer vigil on June 29, 2007. The following United Church of Canada resources may assist with organizing a prayer vigil.

  •  
    1. A Healing Journey for Us All- Uncovering the Wounds of Empire: A United Church of Canada resource for Healing and Reconciliation.
    2. Toward Justice and Right Relationship. A Beginning: A Study Guide for Congregations and Church groups as they Forge New Relationships with First Nations Peoples
    3. Hear Our Voices, First Nations of Canada Speak: A four-part video study that explores the social, political, economic and cultural rights of First Nations
    4. That All May Be One: A Resource for Educating Towards Racial Justice

 

Contacting your local member of Parliament, the Prime Minister, and  the Minister of Indian Affairs to tell them you support justice and fairness for First Nations, and that you want the Government of Canada to work in partnership with First Nations to resolve long-standing issues. You can write the Prime Minister’s office at: Office of the Prime Minister, 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa K1A 0A2.

 

Discerning other appropriate solidarity actions in your context. Including getting information about the National Day of Action (June 29) in your area. You can get this information by contacting the AFN and/or your regional AFN office (information is available on the AFN website at http://www.afn.ca).

For more information on the United Church of Canada support for the day please contact  

Choice U. Okoro,  e-mail: cokoro2@united-church.ca 

Human Rights and Peace Justice, Global and Ecumenical Relations Unit.

3250 Bloor Street West, Suite 300 Toronto, ON M8X 2Y4 Canada

Tel: 1.800-268-3781 Voice Mail: 416-2315931 Ext. 4061 Fax 416-231-3103


[1] The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

 

 

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From emails to “Healing Our World”


David Morley is one of those fellows that everyone would be blessed to spend an hour or so with once in awhile. The President and C.E.O. of Save the Children Canada recently released a book about his experiences, from 1998 to 2005, as executive director of the Canadian section of Médecins Sans Frontières.

The book is called “Healing Our World – Inside Doctors Without Borders”.

‘The world is our emergency room’ (one of the American Doctors Without Borders’ slogans) was too long,” David laughs as we sat having a cup of java in a busy midtown coffee shop last weekend.

Friends remember a few of David’s emails from the field, such as his vivid experiences in Brazzaville, in the Congo. We also recall the pride we felt at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church, where David and Elizabeth are also members, when it was announced that MSF had won the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize. It was these emails, and many more, which were the start of the book.

“I’m able to immerse myself in a different culture and then, at night, I write about the day and process what has been going on. A couple of people said to me that I should write a book. A guy I play hockey with had compiled and printed the emails and shared them with friends. Sharing, pressing “send”, helps me figure out what’s going on and I can try to locate myself which then eases my re-entry into Canadian society.

While still at MSF David was approached with a book proposal by a family friend at Fitzhenry & Whiteside (who published Deborah Ellis children’s books “Our Stories, Our Songs: African Children Talk About AIDS” and “The Heaven Shop”.)

“I’m lucky I get to speak at a lot of schools and ‘kids’, anyone from an 8-year old to a 22-year old young adult in university, ask great questions with all the passion and commitment that comes with believing that we can make the world perfect.

“‘Healing Our World’…in a way it’s an impossibility, so it feels quixotic, but we have to keep on doing it.”

The book, whose first half is reminiscent of a workbook or manual, might well encourage young people to get involved in community development work or re-affirm the views of those who are already so committed.

“As I was doing the history of MSF, I was having some difficulty writing it in the third person, as I thought it should be. It was Stuart McLean who said, ‘No, it sounds too much like a promotional brochure for MSF.’ He urged me to include more of my personal history, an extra risk, but what people identify with.”

This personal history includes how, when after university he applied for his first volunteer overseas position with Pueblito, David met Elizabeth. Bruce McLeod, a family friend since David’s teen years, had volunteered with Pueblito after serving as United Church of Canada moderator and suggested David do the same. He and Elizabeth would marry two years later and now their sons, Nicholas and Alexander, are in university. Such is the fleeting nature of time.

David says that one of the questions he is often asked is whether he gets depressed working in places where natural or human disasters are all around.

“I remember, when I was in Costa Rica early on in my work, assuming that because they did not have the material things we take for granted they would feel poor. Not so.”

“There’s actually something harder about doing justice work here at home because we (activists) are not in the majority. While physical conditions are certainly worse overseas the marginalized are so often in the majority and their struggles, therefore, seem like something everyone has a part in.”

“The gift of action is one of those intangibles – the exhilaration that comes at the end of the day from freely giving without being motivated by some imposed moral code or some smug self-satisfaction. When it feels like a drop in the ocean I get to see, eye-to-eye, some of the people our work has impacted.”

With the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, including a cash award approaching $1 million, MSF launched the Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines to address and improve access to essential AIDS, TB, malaria and other treatments for populations in danger. While the prize money was only about one percent of MSF’s worldwide operations budget, David is proud that the organization made a conscious choice to enter the sphere of sharper advocacy.

“What MSF was used to was natural disasters and wars…but to enter into an economic sphere, with the challenge of on-going pandemics, we could see that we were not going to be able to do anything without a cut in the cost of medicines. Some pharmaceutical companies even said, ‘We’ll give you (MSF) a break in the cost’, but we said, ‘No, it was very important that drugs come down in price systemically, not just as an act of charity.’”

While other advocacy groups can push for more training of nurses and call on western countries to stop ‘poaching’ health-care workers from AIDS-endemic areas, David says, “Who better than MSF to deliver meds, and right now, given the emergency!”

David says his work these days, at Save the Children Canada, is comparable to the community development he was part of when this all started for him back at Pueblito.

When he left MSF Canada in July, 2005, David had been the organization’s longest-serving Executive Director.

In February, he learned that “Healing Our World” was being translated into Korean.

Healing Our World: Inside Doctors Without Borders, by David Morley, is published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside.