By Frank Fohr
WELLAND – A successful regional assembly of Development and Peace was held in Welland this weekend with approximately 80 people in attendance. Members from as far away as Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie as well as senior staff from Montreal were in attendance over the three days of the gathering at the Niagara College Welland Campus.
Christian Campigny, the Deputy Director of international programs gave a thorough presentation on how projects and partners are chosen in order to provide the most effective development. An example was given of the work by Development and Peace partners in the Congo where the government of Canada asked for our help to create a peaceful political process leading up to recent elections there. Since Development and Peace is partnered with groups working in the Congo on popular education, millions of people were able to be reached regarding their democratic rights.
Romain Duguay, the Deputy Executive Director of Development and Peace spoke on a number of topics including next year’s education program. It will take its inspiration from Pope Francis who will be visiting the Amazon region this autumn. Development and Peace works in a number of Amazonian countries including Brazil, Peru and Colombia, so the campaign will focus on the loss of the Amazonian forest to exploitation, much of which is illegal landgrabs from indigenous people.
A Skype link with other regional meetings in Manitoba, New Brunswick and Newfoundland was another highlight.
In addition to the work schedule there were times for prayer and socializing. Mass with Bishop Gerard Bergie and the faith community of St. Kevin’s occurred on Sunday morning. A social event was held on Saturday night at Notre Dame College School with the school’s jazz band providing entertainment and the culinary students providing supper. Many of the delegates walked from Niagara College to Notre Dame as part of the Development and Peace program to walk in solidarity with those 68.5 million people forced to leave their homes who must often walk to places of safety.
Next year’s regional assembly will be in Toronto.
(Frank Fohr is South Western representative on the National Council of Development and Peace.)