As part of Development and Peace Jubilee campaign celebrating our 50 years, Caritas Canada is now looking to the future. After highlighting the role of women at the heart of change in the Share Lent campaign, the Fall education campaign focuses on women’s role in building peace.
Women and peace: a historical relationship
Women have long been associated with peace and reconciliation around the world. Women have made vital contributions to peacebuilding and peace processes in diverse places such as Colombia, Guatemala, Liberia, Northern Ireland and the Philippines, just to name a few. There are countless examples and studies of women’s organizations engaging in the process of peace and reconciliation, whether at the national or international level, going as far back as World War I.
The impact of women peacebuilders was publicly recognized and rewarded in 2011, when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three inspiring women for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work: Ellen John¬son Sirleaf (Liberia), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) and Tawakkul Karman (Yemen). This decision by the Nobel Committee reaffirmed the importance of women’s contribution to peace.
We are all invited to learn more about the vital role women play in conflict prevention and peacebuilding. All around the world, courageous women are working for a more peaceful world.
Together, let’s take action for peace!
LET’S COMMIT to standing alongside women and organizations that strive to build a more just and peaceful world. Because women play a vital role in conflict prevention and in building just, sustainable and inclusive peace.
Your action counts! We suggest different ways of acting, so you can do it your own way. Support our campaign by filling out our online Action Card, or by spreading it on social networks.
2017 CAMPAIGN RESOURCES
- Poster | Give your campaign visibility with this beautiful poster.
- Action Sheet | The Action Sheet summarizes the key thematic issues of our campaign and calls for action to recognize the importance of including women in peace processes.
- Action Card | The Action Card is our main mobilization tool. Please distribute Action Cards in large numbers in order to send a strong message to the Canadian government: supporting women is supporting peace!
- Faith Based Reflection | This short reflection explores how our faith calls on us to recognize and support the work done by women working for peace.
- Backgrounder | In this backgrounder, you’ll find a detailed analysis of women and peace process, as well as examples of our partners’ work on these issues.
- Campaign Guide | The Campaign Guide was included in the Campaign Ordering Kit and will also be included with each order.
Volunteers with the St. Luke’s Church Refugee Support Ministry have been assisting with the resettlement in Calgary of four refugee families that arrived earlier this year from Syria. In line with the Gospel theme of “Who is my neighbour,” the individuals have dedicated substantial time in assisting them with the many resettlement responsibilities, e.g. learning English, addressing their medical and dental needs, finding and delivering furniture and used bicycles, etc. Although the parish has been supporting refugees to resettle for about 30 years, this has been an exceptional event given the large number of family members, 19 in total. Further, this has been the first time that many of the volunteers have been involved and it has been an excellent learning experience for them.
The many experiences included understanding the traumatic experiences the four families underwent during the last five years. Most of the families lived in Damascus and suburban areas near this large capital city of Syria. They led normal, happy lives where they went to work, their children attended school, and everyone was able to live without threat of fear hanging above their heads. Some held occupations as teachers, others worked in trades, accounting, and a few of the young men were enrolled in universities and colleges and were nearing their final years of study. But on March 15, 2011 everything took a turn for the worst as this was the day the civil war officially ignited across the country, destroying the world they once knew. Military clashes between extremist groups and regime forces began affecting civilian lives on a daily basis. The sound of shrapnel colliding with houses became common, hearing the sharp crack of a machine guns was normal, as was the sudden swoosh of fighter jets soaring above their heads. And the difficulties of these families were enhanced since they were members of a Christian minority within the country, where they were denied societal rights, and subjected to prejudice and discrimination. These circumstances persuaded the families to leave everything they had ever known and cross the border into neighbouring Lebanon. This migration signified the reality that they had no safe place remaining for them to occupy in their homeland.
Choosing to move compelled them to seek a country that would accept them and allow them to start over again for the sake of their children’s futures. Fortunately, a relative in Canada was willing and able to sponsor them–very significant when considering they are four families. After residing in Lebanon for approximately one year, all applications were approved. Beginning in October 2015, the families began to arrive in Calgary–one by one–until all four had landed by February 2016. Once everyone settled into their houses, the reality of their new lives settled in and they made the list of priorities they hoped to accomplish in the upcoming year. Learning English, finding work, and being able to successfully support themselves were priorities. The families are of the Christian faith, belonging to the Melkite Greek Catholic community. Their peaceful nature and optimism make them good candidates for integrating into Canadian society. They aspire to raise their children to be active citizens.
The St. Luke’s volunteers say that their experiences with these delightful families have made several lasting impressions on them:
- how nice, friendly, and industrious they are, just the kind of people we should want as new Canadians
- the enthusiasm and commitment imparted on the volunteer team once meeting the families and learning the many facets of the support ministry
- how enthusiastic and rewarded the volunteers feel after virtually every interface that they have with the refugee families
- the wholehearted appreciation shown by the families and their sponsor, and the intense desire of the people to become independent and contribute to their own welfare
- the extent to which all have become so close with each other that they now feel part of each other’s extended families.