November 29, 2021 (Ottawa, ON) – On Tuesday, Mary Simon, Canada’s first indigenous Governor-General, delivered a forward-looking Speech from the Throne designed to move Canada forward, for everyone. Leading the country through the pandemic has not been easy and will only become harder as we move towards our recovery. Rooting difficult decisions in a commitment to “increasing Canada’s foreign assistance budget each year, and investing in sustainable, equitable, and feminist development that benefits the world’s most vulnerable and promotes gender equality” is the best way to support Canadians and build the future we all deserve.
We, as organizations whose members represent the bulk of Canada’s international cooperation sector, celebrate this announcement, and look forward to working with the government to implement this commitment. Working together, we can create a healthier, more equitable and resilient world that benefits everyone.
The pandemic has fractured supply chains, caused inflation to soar, and nearly collapsed our health care system. These are realities the government must address to curb the rising cost of living, and to give our local economy the tools it needs to recover. To do this, the Prime Minister has renewed his commitment to stopping the spread of COVID-19 everywhere.
“The pandemic has had a devastating impact around the world with the largest burden being carried by caregivers, particularly women. Canada’s actions to ensure access to vaccines for all will become a moment in history that we will reflect on with regret or pride,” said Julia Anderson, CEO of the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH). “Global and domestic economic recovery is dependent upon robust supply chains which require thriving local economies. None of this is possible when global health systems are collapsing. Access to life-saving tools in the fight against COVID-19 is essential to kick-starting our recovery and stabilizing trade relations.”
The conditions we create for our global recovery must align with our efforts to protect our planet. Ensuring that communities around the world are empowered with the knowledge and tools needed to protect our biodiversity is crucial to this goal. “Investing in international cooperation is one of the most important tools in the fight against climate change,” states Maxime Michel, Interim CEO of Cooperation Canada. “Low- and middle-income countries are often the first to suffer and feel the impacts most deeply, of the global climate crisis. This commitment to increasing Canada’s official development assistance means that we have an opportunity to act more quickly to ensure that those most impacted by climate change can respond to their own needs.”
“Canada’s International Cooperation sector is always ready to advise and support the Prime Minister and International Development Minister Sajjan as they walk the path towards recovery and equity,” said Michel and Anderson.
About Cooperation Canada
Cooperation Canada brings together and advocates for Canada’s international development and humanitarian organizations by convening sector leaders, influencing policy and building capacity. Together, we work with partners both inside and outside Canada to build a world that’s fair, safe and sustainable for all.
Cooperation Canada has prepared an alternative mandate letter for the Minister of International Development, which highlights the key global challenges that should require the Minister’s attention during his mandate, in the perspective of the main priorities for making tangible progress of Canadians. Read it here.
About Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health
The Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) is comprised of approximately 100 Canadian non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academic institutions, health professional associations and individuals partnering to improve health outcomes for women and children in more than 1,000 communities worldwide.
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Orange Shirt Day derives from the story of residential school survivor, Phyllis Webstad, from the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation. At the young age of 6, Phyllis was forced by the Canadian government to attend residential school. For her first day, she was excited to wear her bright, orange shirt but after arriving, it was immediately stripped and taken away from her. Phyllis shared, “The color orange has always reminded me of that and how my feelings didn’t matter, how no one cared and how I felt like I was worth nothing. All of us little children were crying, and no one cared.”
The disturbing effects of residential school still linger to this day as intergenerational trauma embeds itself into Indigenous lives. This core foundation is established from the genocide of language, culture, traditions, parenting systems and spiritual practices. Dealing with trauma, mental illness, substance abuse and high suicide rates overwhelm Indigenous communities. Overrepresentation ensues within the child welfare system and criminal justice system. Poverty, homelessness, food insecurity and chronic health issues are also a few other issues that only touch the surface of this matter. It is important now more than ever for Settler Canadians to stand in solidarity and amplify the voices of Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island.
On September 30th, we call for humanity to center and uphold survivors, their families and to think of the young lives who did not make it home. Intentions should be brought toward learning, holding space, and creating global dialogue on residential school’s horrific consequences and the resurgence of Indigenous peoples. Even as an adult, the innocent child still lives within every one of us. Orange shirt day is for these warriors to be honoured and heard. Every Child Matters.
– Deena Watson
VIDEA Indigenous Governance Officer
Cooperation Canada urges Canada and the international community to mobilize all the necessary resources to address the human rights crisis in Afghanistan. Following the expedited withdrawal of American and NATO forces after 20 years of military intervention in the country, the Taliban have swiftly taken over major cities across Afghanistan, resulting in the collapse of the Afghan Government. Civilians, including human rights defenders and humanitarian workers, who had supported Canadian and other international actors are now disproportionately targeted, with the safety and security of their families on the line.
The people of Afghanistan have endured conflict for over four decades. Countless Afghan civilians, human rights defenders, humanitarians, diplomats, politicians, members of international militaries, and volunteers have lost their lives. The situation is deteriorating by the minute, with the local population abandoned as international actors evacuate the country.
In this time of conflict and insecurity, many are fleeing the country and seeking asylum to ensure the basic safety of their families. Canada has committed to resettle 20,000 refugees and has also promised to evacuate Afghans who have worked alongside Canadians in Afghanistan. Among these, civil society leaders and human rights defenders must not be forgotten. Women’s rights activists and journalists, as well as their families, are facing a disproportionate safety risk – one that Canada as a feminist actor must address.
After decades of interventions in Afghanistan, Canada and its NATO allies have a responsibility to contribute to a constructive resolution of this crisis, to preserve civilian lives, and uphold core human rights. Recognizing the very real constraints of this volatile crisis, we urge Canada, as a respected global actor, to support global coordination that prioritizes the lives of Afghan civilians whose safety and security are in the balance.
We are pleased to announce the publication of a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Development Studies, entitled Next Generation of Knowledge Partnerships for Global Development, dedicated to a collaboration between Cooperation Canada and the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID). The Next-generation models for Canadian collaboration in international development project (2017-2020, henceforth NextGen) was funded through the IDRC Foundations for Innovation program.
This special issue, co-edited by Andréanne Martel, Fraser Reilly-King, and Bipasha Baruah, grew out of the NextGen initiative. It documents NextGen findings and taps into different models and experiences of collaboration between practitioners and scholars in the global development sector in Canada and abroad. An introduction to the issue was also published last year.