Readers write: December 9, 2019 issue

December 4, 2019 | Opinion | Volume 23 Issue 22
Various Contributors |
(Graphic by Betty Avery)

MCC recommendations for new federal government

The following is a shortened version of a Nov. 8 letter sent from the Mennonite Central Committee Ottawa Office to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with copies to the leaders of the four opposition parties.

As we look ahead, we suggest a few areas where we see opportunities for growth in Canada’s response to forced migration:

  • Identifying and addressing the root causes of displacement. We urge you to dedicate diplomatic and financial resources to lead a global effort to identify and address these causes of forced displacement.
  • Increased commitments to international assist-ance. We have appreciated your government’s focus on supporting women and girls. We believe more efforts in this area, including a strong focus on organizations engaged in peacebuilding at a local level, can bear good fruit globally in dealing with some of the drivers of displacement.
  • Addressing the climate crisis. We hear from global partners about the current impacts of the growing climate crisis on vulnerable communities and encourage the government to include climate adaptation funding as part of its foreign assistance.
  • Commitment to refugee resettlement. We urge your government to continue to show leadership in providing resettlement at a time when resettlement spaces are in short supply.
  • Increase commitment to resettling United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) referred refugees. We urge continued commitments to resettle those most in need of durable solutions through global processes, including a leadership role in support of the UNHCR.
  • Sustained leadership in promoting refugee sponsorship.
  • Continued commitment to UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East funding.

We also encourage the government to publicly uphold international humanitarian and human rights laws and standards in all Canadian foreign policy. These include:

  • Trade policy and practice in Israel and Palestine. We are concerned by Canada’s continuing trade relationship with illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank through the Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement.
  • A re-examination of Canada’s military mission, Operation Impact, in Iraq and the surrounding region. We remain very concerned that Canada’s continuing military efforts in the region are not only ineffective in addressing deep-seated conflict but also fuel further fragmentation and undermine the work of local peacebuilding organizations.
  • Accountability for the extractive sector. MCC welcomed the announcement of the creation of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise (CORE) but remains disappointed with the mandate of the CORE. 

In domestic policy, MCC supports continued work on reconciliation and restorative justice, including the following areas:

  • Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) into Canadian law. We ask that the government continue to uphold commitments to UNDRIP by introducing new legislation to turn the declaration into Canadian law, to the same standard or higher as that of Bill C-262.
  • Support for restorative justice initiatives. We ask the Canadian government to continue to financially support these important initiatives and make restorative justice a priority at all levels of government.

Once again, we wish you well and assure you of MCC’s prayers as you continue to provide leadership for our country. We look forward to ongoing engagement with you in constructive discussions on important public policy issues in the months and years ahead.
—Rick Cober Bauman, Winnipeg
The writer is executive director of MCC Canada. To read the full version of the letter, visit bit.ly/mcc-trudeau-recommendations.

 

Reader questions student’s make-up
Re:Lessons from Narnia,” Oct. 14, page 25.

Is a white face much different than a black/brown face?
—Victor Huebert, Kingsville, Ont.
The writer is a member of North Leamington United Mennonite Church, Leamington, Ont.

 

‘Let’s do something before it’s too late’
Re:
Climate strike articles, Oct. 14, pages 11 to 14, and “Hope comes from action,” Oct. 14, page 32.

I read with great interest the four pages devoted to the climate strike, in which thousands of people, mostly young, participated. Wonderful! Sadly only one article—“Hope comes from action: Grebelites strike for climate change”—mentions any action.

I urge Canadian Mennonite to devote a whole issue or an article per issue describing action. A good start would be to encourage all Mennonite churches to connect with the Mennonite Creation Care Network, whose newsletters are extremely informative.

Words are cheap. Let’s do something before it’s too late.
—Peter Sawatzky, Winnipeg

 

Media needs to provide ‘a balanced picture’ of Indigenous peoples
Re: “Views on Indigenous land acknowledgements” Et cetera brief, Nov. 11, page 10.

I grew up near one of the Blackfoot/Siksika reserves in southern Alberta. Some of their residents worked on our farm. We made friends, and I’m still in touch with some of them, including Gerald Sitting Eagle, an elder.

In recent times, we’ve had a kind of overload of negative attention placed on these fellow citizens of ours, who often find themselves in precarious situations. Most of the time we, as white people, are willing to take the blame for residential schools, poor infrastructure services, and violence toward indigenous women, among others.

In my view, our media does not give us a balanced picture. We don’t hear about the many “successful” Indigenous people, like Douglas Cardinal, a famous Indigenous architect, who credits residential schools for his success; the success of the Osoyoos Indian Band under the leadership of Chief Clarence Louie; and the fact that most violence perpetrated against Indigenous women is by Indigenous men.

I think it’s time we took a very fundamental look at this Canadian problem. Most of my Indigenous friends agree that it would be a good thing if we did away with the Indian Act and the reservation system, perhaps allowing a transition period of about 10 years. After that, we would treat Canada’s Indigenous citizens like any other immigrants, only they got here earlier than the rest of us. 

Pride and dignity, so essential for human wellness, could then return to these beautiful people.
—Richard Penner, Saskatoon

(Graphic by Betty Avery)

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