justice

Why I advocate for human rights

'I want to learn from our history and remind others that cultural and religious differences must not make us complicit in denying dignity and equality for all,' Leona Lortie writes. (Photo by Johannes Plenio/Pixabay)

In contemplating where our passions come from and why we do what we do, we often look to our childhoods. In my childhood, I was faced with several tensions, which formed me and led me to study history.


Leona Lortie is the public engagement and advocacy coordinator for MCC's Ottawa office. (MCC photo by Meghan Mast)

‘Our children need to know’

The sign directing people to Stony Hill, the former site of St. John’s Lutheran Church and of the Young Chippewayan Reserve No. 107, was changed earlier this year to reflect its importance to indigenous people. The name Opwashemoe Chakatinaw means Stoney Knoll in English. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Chief Sylvia Weenie of the Young Chippewayan band chats with Leonard Doell, coordinator of Mennonite Central Committee Saskatchewan’s Indigenous Neighbours Program, at the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6, held recently at Stoney Knoll. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

With her daughter Kimberley holding her notes, Chief Sylvia Weenie addresses the audience gathered to mark the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6. ‘Stoney Knoll history needs to be told,’ she says. ‘Our children need to know.’ (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Call for volunteers

Rita Macdonald of Rosthern Mennonite Church, left, visits with Marshall Williams and his wife Verna at the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6, held recently at Stoney Knoll, Sask. Williams is the hereditary chief of the Young Chippewayan band. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Under darkening skies, participants line up to receive commemorative medals marking the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6. The medals are to be a visible reminder of the treaty, says Harry Lafond, executive director of the Office of the Treaty Commissioner. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

Edna Zacharias of Osler Mennonite Church tosses a handful of soil onto the roots of a pine tree planted to commemorate the gathering of friendship that took place at Stoney Knoll, Sask., marking the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6. (Photo by Donna Schulz)

“It’s really cool to see white people here today,” said Cheyenne Fineday. The first nation teenager was speaking at the 140th anniversary of the signing of Treaty 6 on Aug. 23, 2016. Held at Stoney Knoll, 76 kilometres north of Saskatoon, the celebration included both indigenous and settler peoples.

Follow the money

Participants in MCC’s 2016 Uprooted learning tour include, clockwise from top left: Thomas Coldwell (MCC Alberta), Andrew Brown, Alannah DeJong, Allison Goerzen (MCC Alberta), Jana Klassen, Carol McNaughton and Maria Alejandra Toro. (Photo by Thomas Coldwell)

The Uprooted learning tour includes a stop at Cafe Justo, a cooperative in Mexico that allows poor coffee farmers to remain independent. (Photo by Thomas Coldwell)

Call for volunteers

Locals cross the river between Guatemala and Mexico. Uprooted looked at issues surrounding migration in Central America and peacebuilding projects in the region. (Photo by Carol McNaughton)

Uprooted participants were told that the Goldcorp Marlin Mine in San Miguel, Guatemala, has negatively affected the community. (Photo by Carol McNaughton)

What is the real cost of the things we buy?

Bethlehem experiences

Tear gas containers litter the gardens near the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank Palestinians know that every Friday they can expect tear gas to be lobbed into the refugee camps outside of Bethlehem. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

The separation wall in Bethlehem, in the West Bank. (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

‘How you experience holy is different than you expect it to be.’ -Rev. Carrie Ballenger Smith

After a year of travel, seeking faith and justice on four continents, there are lessons that I am still unpacking. Between the busy schedules of church, master’s thesis work, travel and work with the World Student Christian Federation (WSCF), it takes a moment of pause to catch up with my experiences. And so, I pause. I look back to remember.

Holy Saturday

Sunset in Bethlehem (Photo by Brandi Friesen Thorpe)

Holy Saturday,
The place for bleakness, twisted mourning, black.
I like this day, today,
How it holds permission to wallow and be in the dark,
To wander in the twisted depths.

Ally or accomplice: What does the Lord require of us?

There is a popular language arising in the church when it comes to justice work, that of “being an ally.” It means to align yourself with whoever your “other” is, so to love your neighbour and serve the Lord. But what happens when words are not enough, and when having only words of an ally can make injustice? What happens when being an ally is not enough?

A simple prayer

God, our Mother and our Father,
Jesus Christ, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, our Comforter.

We offer our gratitude, for you are with us.
You are familiar without struggles and joys, and still you draw near to us.
You are Holy.

We offer you gratitude for your sustaining love,
For the relationships made and being made,
For our daily bread,
For the material we need to continue everyday,
For how you renew our spirit when we struggle

Marching for justice

In his famous address at 1984 Mennonite World Conference, in Strasbourg, France, Ron Sider described shalom as “being in right relationship with God, neighbor and the earth.” Shalom, he said, “means not only the absence of war, but also a land flowing with milk and honey. It includes just economic relationships with the neighbor. It means the fair division of land so that all families can earn their own way.

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Care for creation and environmental justice

Call for volunteers

Nate Howard, an MCC worker from Muncie, Ind. shows visitors this mine in San Miguel, Guatemala. The mine uses vast amounts of water which eventually leaks potent chemicals into the water table. (MCC photo by Melissa Engle)

When Bob Lovelace, a chief of the Ardoch Algonquin of Northeastern Ontario, wrote about his people’s struggle over uranium exploration on their land, he did so from a Canadian maximum security prison. To protect their traditional territories from uranium exploration, the Ardoch Algonquin had set up roadblocks.

Proximity and resources

Winnipeg experienced its tenth homicide last week.  The shooting took place around the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation parking lot at Portage and Young.  We were likely just leaving our house at that time to run a few errands.  I am trying to retrace the moments to see if anything comes to mind.  We would have been close enough to hear the shooting.  Learning about the shooting does not seem to phase me personally, despite the proximity.  In the larger media and civic perspective this will of course

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Is this heaven? . . . No its the 44

A few weeks ago in the first Sunday of Lent I challenged our congregation to fast from the fruits of privilege.  One minor act on my part has been to ride the bus as often as possible.  As a country-boy the bus has always been a source of fascination for me and this spiritual exercise paid dividends this last week as my experience ended comprising about half the sermon

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