After a busy couple of weeks of moving home from university and going on a couple trips, I was finally finding time to clean up some of the remaining items lying around my room. I found a button from World Renew with the quote “I am changing the story” written on it, and I reflected on my time with them in Ottawa a couple weeks ago.
I wanted to join World Renew on the Justice Leadership Tour in Ottawa in early May because my friend went a couple years ago and shared with me how impactful it was. It also seemed like a good opportunity to apply the topics that I am learning in my International Development program at school to politics in a very concrete way, all while including a Christian perspective. While all of these happened, it exceeded my expectations and gave me more opportunities and experiences than I expected.
Because we only had two full days in Ottawa, our schedules were very full. On the first day, we learned all about international food insecurity, gender equity, sustainable small-scale farming, and what Canada is doing to address these large issues. We heard from representatives from both World Renew and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Hearing about the work that both of those organizations are doing on an international scale filled me with hope. Later in the day, we were taught how to write letters to, and talk with, Members of Parliament (MPs) regarding these topics. This was a surprisingly straightforward task to learn and came in very handy for our meetings with MPs the next day.
The goal of talking to MPs was to show them that we care about international issues such as gender equity, food insecurity, and creating peace. These are topics that the government is putting a lot of attention on and we wanted to show that in these areas, we share similar values and mutual goals. The big question that we had for MPs was if they could help us by advocating in Parliament for an increase the amount of money in the federal budget designated for helping families affected by global poverty. This increase would mean that Canada could more substantially support various organizations as they aid other countries in a way that makes a sustainable difference in the world.
While our “big ask” was geared towards the budget increase, we really wanted to show them that we are passionate about some big global issues. It was surprisingly easy to discuss these big issues with MPs in the short amount of time that we had. They all agreed that as a country, Canada is doing some great work already, but could also make some changes towards better responding to the current global food insecurity crisis. We suggested that they help us advocate by discussing with their colleagues, posting on social media, and/or writing a letter to the Minister of International Development or Finance Minister. They could all agree to at least one of these actions, which is a very promising start for us.
Reflecting on these meetings and the other topics that we were taught about, I have learned a few key points that I’d like to share.
1. Advocacy is so necessary. Without advocacy, how are we to make a difference? We are called by Christ himself to advocate for the poor, the widowed, and really anyone who does not have the power to create change themselves. We have the ability to talk to the leaders in our country, a freedom that many people are unable to have. We need to use this to change the story for many individuals who cannot themselves.
2. God gave you a passion. I have a strong passion for people, for international aid, and for sustainable community building. This did not come out of nowhere but rather, I got this through experiences that I can only explain as coming straight from God. I have a passion to mimic the love of Jesus to everyone as best as I can, and I want to follow the command to “love your neighbour”. My neighbour not only involves the people who live in my town, but it involves the people who I go to class with, who serve me tea at my favourite coffee shop, as well as those with whom I have nothing in common. My neighbourhood is larger than my street, larger than my school, and larger than my country - it involves the global community that we are all a part of. This neighbourhood of mine is what I am passionate about - where are your passions?
3. I truly am changing the story. By sharing my passions in a way that advocates for so many people, I am taking action towards changing the story of many lives. I have seen the work that some great organizations are doing and how grateful many people are for the aid that they are able to receive.
By channeling your passions, you can also be a part of changing the story. Whether you talk to your peers about your ideas, discuss them with your MP, or pursue a career to make some real change in your area of expertise, it can be done. Change often takes a long time to come, but it will come. Personally, I am committed to taking that time and working towards global change, knowing that it will be a long and difficult process and I encourage you to join me in changing the story.
Photo Caption: Students met with members of Parliament from all three major parties, sharing about the need for Canada to do more when it comes to responding to global poverty.