2008 Annual Report – Community Life
2008 Annual Report of
National Chairperson of Community Life
Diane Curley – dignity and rights of persons
Anne Marie Gorman – developing countries
Pat Battensby – human trafficking
Community life standing committee chairpersons across Canada have certainly taken to heart the words of the prophet Micah to “love tenderly, act justly, and walk humbly with your God”. In my first communiqué and magazine article I asked members to keep in mind the two feet of charity and justice while dealing with issues in this standing committee. The submitted reports show that members have noted that request, although the charity footprint is certainly far larger than the justice one.
Dignity and Rights of Persons
Members donated to and worked at the Coalition Against Family Violence, Agape Ministries and local domestic abuse services such Our Lady of Good Counsel Society, Domestic Abuse Services, Catholic Family services, Alpha House, Osborne House, Chrysalis House, Wings of Providence, Sign of Hope and other safe houses. Members participated in and supported Community Safety & Drug Prevention Week and Walk for National Addictions Week. Initiatives to combat homelessness and feed the hungry included knitting blankets for the homeless. Councils made donations to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights to be built in Winnipeg. One council sent spiritual reading material to a correctional facility.
Members served on ethics committees in regional hospitals and on local community boards. Councils studied, and in some cases, wrote letters or took other action on the following issues: women’s rights, Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (several provinces noted this), Aboriginal rights, poverty, family violence and homelessness. Petitions were sent to make more funds available for individual care in nursing homes.
This issue deserves a subsection of its own as all provincial reports noted activity under this heading. Resolution2008.01 Preventing Human Trafficking at 2010 Olympics was the catalyst. Members studied the resolution and the suggested activities; wrote letters to government (some councils held letter writing sessions); had speakers on the topic; supported, advertised, and attended the Not For Sale Campaign meetings across the country; viewed DVDs and videos such as The Oldest Oppression and Finding Dawn; organized, attended, and presented workshops and presentations in parishes and larger community; collected signatures on petitions such as the petition in British Columbia against brothels and legalization of prostitution, especially for the 2010 Olympics; and signed and sent cards to provincial and federal government representatives.
In British Columbia where the 2010 Olympics will be held, members were very active in regard to human trafficking and served on and monitored public committees designed to prevent trafficking at the Olympics and always. The Alberta Mackenzie chairperson of community life sat on the Alberta Coalition Against Human Trafficking as a member of an education and awareness committee. Information on human trafficking was made available at national office. The impact of letters cannot be understated as members sent more than 1,000 letters to government denouncing the opening of brothels in Vancouver prior to the 2010 Olympics.
Social and Economic Justice
Members contributed money and service to St. Vincent de Paul, The Mustard Seed Street Ministry; Habitat for Humanity, Atonement House, Covenant House, Rossbrook House, Aboriginal transition houses, school breakfast programs, peace rallies; St. Francis Table, Madonna House, Out of the Cold I nn from the Cold, St Vincent’s Kitchen, Hope Cottage, Families First, Coats for Kids, The Salvation Army, Children’s Trust Fund and Friends on the Outside.
Members worked for Meals on Wheels and at food banks, clothing depots, soup kitchens, shelters for women, youth and children, in the prison ministry and emergency services for fire or other disaster victims. One parish council helped to gather and distribute 160 hampers to needy families. Councils contributed to Christmas gifts for needy children. Members taught and advocated for victims. Christmas shoeboxes, hampers at Christmas and Thanksgiving and backpacks for homeless youth were prepared. One parish council collected data on child and elder poverty taken from a survey, “Canadians Perception of Poverty” in an effort to keep this issue front and centre for their group.
Members supported campaigns for clean water. Resolution 2007.02 Global Accountability for Canadian Registered Mining Companies was worked on with members writing to government asking for an independent ombudsman to monitor Canadian mining companies to ensure respect for human rights and the environment. Support for LITE (Local Investment Towards Employment) was given. Ontario ‘s Poverty Reduction Plan was monitored. Stricter legislation for drunk driving was requested. Support was given for New Brunswick ‘s appointment of the first public trustee whose mandate is to protect interests of most vulnerable in the province. Members participated in the Raise the Rates Campaign where petitions called in one legislative assembly to take several steps to improve the situation of welfare recipients.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
Programs were downloaded from the Internet and made available to immigrants. One parish council prepared welcome bags for refugees. Homes and hearts were opened to exchange students and foreign students. One parish council supported five immigrant priests. Refugee families were mentored, assistance provided with English as an Additional Language and support was given for mothers. A refugee family from Bhutan was sponsored. Financial and material support was provided to refugee families in parishes. Mexican farm workers were welcomed. Spiritual and emotional assistance was given to refugees. One council supported workers from Guatemala by presenting bicycles, helmets, and English lessons.
A new member who is a new citizen gave a presentation and led an international walking group that welcomes new residents. A Love Fest dinner highlighting many cultures was held. Ontario members used the new Ottawa community immigrant services organization Web site to help people new to Canada. A welcome social was organized for a family of six children from the Congo as well as a reception held after their baptisms. An Afghan student spoke at a parish communion breakfast. New citizens were acknowledged in the parish bulletin. One council collected items for 32 health kits which were given to refugee camps.
Receptions were hosted at citizenship courts. The Military Ordinariate Provincial Council supported local Military Family Resources Centres and the Dasher Christmas program. Councils joined their communities in celebrating Canada Day. Councils contributed to the Royal Canadian Legion. The military parish council in Trenton held repatriation ceremonies and prayed for their families. ? Adopt a soldier? campaigns and masses for soldiers and their families were organized. Remembrance Day Services were attended and poppy fund contributions were made.
Letters were sent to the premier on rights of migrant workers in British Columbia. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Pastoral Letter on Immigration and the Protection of Refugees was studied. Members became informed on Canada’s official immigration and refugee policies, studied ?How to Choose a Government? and actively encouraged members to vote in the federal election. Members wrote to governments regarding the need for Canadian citizens to present passports to enter the United States.
Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP)
All provincial councils reported donating 1% to CCODP. The Share Lent campaign was supported. Contributions were collected through Lenten soup and sandwich lunches, Good Friday suppers, poverty meals, 50-50 draws, making and selling scarves, bake sales, skating parties and by getting the parish community involved in fundraising.
Members promoted the use of the Share Lent calendars, served on CCODP committees, watched the DVDAfter the Tsunami, spread awareness of CCODP programs, shared CCODP material with anyone interested, show videos of CCODP work to members and parish at large, supported the postcard campaign regarding mining practices of Canadian companies in the Global South, and were pleased with the new League brochure ?Strong Women Building Strong Communities?.
Many parish councils sponsored a foster child in a developing country. Two-thirds of the provincial councils reported parish council support of Buy-A-Net Malaria Prevention Group. Support was given for the following projects and organizations: Pennies for the Poor (Burundi); missions (including schools, orphanages, home building) in India, Nicaragua, Jamaica, Peru, Guatemala, Columbia, Belize, Burma, Africa, Brazil, Cambodia, Chili, Mexico and Haiti; Holy Childhood Association; World Vision; Call of the Poor; Doctors Without Borders; Fellowship of the Least Coin; Samaritan’s Purse; Mobile Adventist Surgery for Humanity; Chalice; Save a Family Plan; and Wheelchair Foundation of Canada (purchase wheelchairs for developing countries). Other projects supported include Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign and White Fathers.
A “Sole Responsibility” project sent 66 pairs of footwear to Africa. Clean water projects in Nicaragua, Afghanistan and Cambodia were sponsored. A water well was purchased to celebrate Saskatchewan Provincial Council’s 60th anniversary. Support was given for HIV/AIDS orphans and to a member who runs a girls’ school in Africa ; bandages were provided for lepers; shawls were knitted for the poor in Mexico; teddy bears were knitted for Teddies for Tragedies; and Fair Trade coffee and Sharing Fair products were purchased.
A spiritual advisor in British Columbia organized teams of health professionals for clinics in Asian countries. Members subscribed to EWTN.TV/Radio SUN TV and PBS to learn more about the challenges in developing countries. One council had a presentation about Honduras women learning to be autonomous. Members bought and donated over the counter drugs for a member to take to a small community in South America. One parish council sponsored a young League member to go to the Dominican Republic to assist in the building of a school. One youth was funded to attend Youth Challenge International mission in Ethiopia, where she will work on Family Life Issues. A council funded a trip to Nicaragua for local Catholic secondary school students.