Tapping Our Trans-Local Potential for Change

Posts tagged ‘Canada’

Lessons in Diaspora Approaches to Development from a Collaborative Learning Workshop

Workshop participants share insights with each other in a discussion circle. Photo: Jean Bruno Nkondi.

This post was written by Joanna Ashworth, Researcher in the Centre for Sustainable Community Development and Co-Director of Engaging Diaspora in Development.

We just finished a five-month workshop series with 25 diaspora leaders. Here is a glimpse into what we learned together.

1. Take time to grow a learning community

One day a month for five months we gathered with SFU’s project directors, advisors and 25 diaspora leaders in a workshop series. This gave us the chance to network with fellow diaspora involved in similar development work. We learned so much from hearing about the work people are doing and about how we might collaborate with them. We also wanted to gain more skills and knowledge on how to develop our projects. There was good chemistry between people—we all feel like family now.

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The Effect of Culture on Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution in Iraq

Kawa Jabary promotes peaceful activism in Iraq as an alternative to the ‘culture of violence’ commonly seen in demonstrations.

This post was written by Sophia Sithole, a Political Science and Mathematics student at SFU as well as a member of the Ethiopian and Zimbabwean diaspora in Vancouver.

Despite going through many changes in the past several years, Iraq is still a place of civil unrest and turmoil. While some leave to escape the chaos, many go back in hope of bringing about change through peace and reconciliation. Kawa Jabary is one of these individuals. Born in the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq, he was forced to flee to Turkey as a result of his political activities and eventually settled in Canada as a political refugee. Between work and school, he organizes symposia and workshops with the Metro Vancouver Iraqi diaspora to promote peace in Iraq. Kawa often makes trips back to the Kurdish region of Iraq to support peaceful actions as an alternative to the violent demonstrations, which prevail in the country.

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Canada as the Platform: Bridging the Dialogue on Peace

Peace it Together Filmmaking Summer Program 2008.

This post was written by Rosamelia Andrade, Project Research Assistant, with additional content from Reena Lazar, Executive Director of Peace it Together.

When it comes to stimulating dialogue, increasing understanding and building peace amongst individuals who are traditionally considered as “enemies”, filmmaking has tremendous potential. The Vancouver-based organization Peace it Together strongly believes that filmmaking is a creative way to engage, negotiate and reach consensus while working towards a common goal. The mission of the organization is to empower youth to promote peace through dialogue, filmmaking and multimedia.

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The Dialogue Series: What have we learned so far?

This post was written by Chloë Straw, Project Research Assistant.

As we gear up for our fourth in a series of five public dialogues, we wanted to take a look back at some of the things we’ve learned so far through the Engaging Diaspora for Development Project. A guiding theme for us, which has both come out of and reinforced the importance of public dialogue, has been the power of personal narrative in evoking change. The following are some of the lessons we’ve learned through your stories.

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Panos Network provides a new lens for international development

In 2007 the Panos Institute of Canada teamed up with public health specialist and photographer Pieter de Vos to produce AIDS in Two Cities: a photography project highlighting the common elements of HIV/AIDS issues in Port-au-Prince and Vancouver. Photos: Pieter de Vos - AIDS in Two Cities.

This post was written by James Busumtwi-Sam, Member of the Project Management Team and Project Advisory Committee as well as Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science at Simon Fraser University.

Faced with complexity, it is often prudent to simplify. To that end, we have invented concepts like “left” and “right” as tools to better understand politics, and use broad categories like “middle class” or “below the poverty line” to build manageable categories out of unwieldy continuums. In some instances, these simplifications help us to make sense of the context in which our busy lives unfold. In other cases, they obscure important dimensions of reality, generate unrealistic perceptions of the world and throw up barriers to achieving a more equitable, just and sustainable global society. The portrayal of the world in terms of a “global north” and a “global south” is a case in point.

According to Jon Tinker, founder of the Panos Network and Executive Director of the Panos Institute of Canada, the concept of a global “north” and “south” is a relic of a bygone era. In the wake of the Second Word War, as communism spread and the powers of Western Europe and North America moved to check its expansion, it became useful to think in terms of a world divided between the First World West, the Second World East and the Third World South. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Warsaw Pact, the Second World was dropped and a simplistic two-part vision of the world remained.

Jon Tinker thinks it’s high time this conceptual hand-me-down is tossed in the dustbin of history. He points out that the “North and South are no longer broadly distinct and homogeneous groups. Today, they are overlapping and heterogeneous categories, with at best only a historical validity” He argues that, while the “North/South lens” was sometimes useful to the social justice and development movements, ultimately “using [it] is not just lazy. It’s dangerous. It hinders us from seeing, let alone addressing, today’s unjust and socially unsustainable imbalances of power and wealth.”

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Global health through the diaspora lens

Engaging Diasporas in Development Project Co-Directors Joanna Ashworth (left) and Shaheen Nanji. Photo: Greg Ehlers.

This post was written by Joanna Ashworth and Shaheen Nanji, Project Directors.

What does health mean to you? The question might sound simple, but only until you try to answer it. Is health simply a matter of a disease-free mind and body, or are there social, cultural, spiritual or environmental dimensions to be considered? How does our cultural, social and community background influence our understanding of ‘health’? These are just a few of the questions we will ponder when the “Engaging Diasporas in Development” project convenes its second public dialogue: Improving Global Health.

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