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Development and Peace: 50 years


D&P: making informed choices

By Desiree Nelson


Who invited and/or inspired you to be involved with D&P?

I was introduced to Development and Peace by Sarah (Dauk) McKay and Gertrude Rompré at St. Thomas More College during my first year of university. I was interested in helping others, especially those on the margins, and through the STM Just Youth group I learned that there were others with the same heart, a heart for social justice.

Through Development and Peace I was finally able to define the way I looked at the world and have a place where I could invest my gifts to help others here and abroad. Gertrude’s mentorship and personal involvement helped me to find my roots in this wonderful organization and I knew early on that this foundation was only going to grow.

What role(s) have you had within D&P and when?

I began as a member of the STM Just Youth group in 2006, assisting with the campaigns on campus, as well as helping lead the annual high school retreat. I also was involved with the Diocesan D&P council for a couple of years, taking on a secretarial role.

I started in the Youth Rep position when our current youth rep was unable to attend the National Youth Assembly. From that point on, I was involved as a youth rep for several years in both Saskatoon and Regina. During this time I also gave presentations on Share Year Round, as I truly believe in the importance of this monthly giving program, even as a university student on a budget.

I have attended the National Youth Assembly a few times and one year I was also named the anglophone delegate at the francophone Youth Assembly. That was a wonderful opportunity to meet the francophone youth members and practice speaking French. This past year I was blessed to have been chosen as an anglophone youth delegate to the World Social Forum, where I had the opportunity to represent D&P and work as a bilingual team to present workshops on specific themes, such as fair trade.

I have participated in core meetings and our regional assembly, and recently became a Co-Youth Rep again to assist in a vacancy until we are able to elect the new one. This year I have also taken the lead at a parish level to present on the Fall Action and Share Lent campaigns.

How has the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace developed your faith, yourself as a person and your understanding of the world?

When I first joined D&P, I wasn’t Catholic. I had started the RCIA process but knew nothing about social justice or Catholic social teaching. I just knew that I had a heart for others, especially those who were vulnerable, had no voice, or anyone to advocate for them.

When I learned of the term social justice, I felt like pieces of the puzzle had finally come together. The further I journeyed to become Catholic, the more fulfilled I felt, knowing that this was a part of our Catholic faith and supported by the CCCB.

I loved that D&P was working for long-term and sustainable practices, while not neglecting the needs for immediate charity or emergency relief. It was vital to me that D&P work at a grassroots level with the people. Not only do I feel like I have been able to invest myself in an organization that makes a difference, but I also know that I have been given an education through D&P that has informed my worldview and also informed those around me.

I received a degree in sociology and believe that choosing this major was also influenced by my involvement with D&P. Because of D&P, I understand a vocabulary that has become part of my daily language (such as solidarity, sustainable, mining justice, social justice, grassroots, agroecology, etc.) and this has been shared with family and friends. As an example, through this passing of knowledge, there have been others I have spoken with who have chosen to purchase ethically mined diamonds, thanks to the information I was taught during a fall action campaign focused on mining.

That is a huge part of my love for D&P: we are given information to make informed choices, we can share that information with others, we can contribute with our time and/or finances and we can improve the lives of those living in developing countries, all while building up our church community and strengthening our faith.