It’s an awkward time to be a Canadian in the world. Our government is about to officially reject the Kyoto climate change goals (after years of ignoring them unofficially). Its rhetoric about “ethical oil” is ridiculed in European media. Canadian mining companies face stiff opposition from local communities around the world who reject the “extractive” model that creates wealth for people in far-off lands and leaves them with toxic tailings ponds.

Here at home, the country is having a national examination of conscience as the Red Cross steps in to assist Attawapiskat, the Indigenous community on the shores of James Bay that had to declare a state of emergency to get any attention at all. The call of the people of Attawapiskat makes us at least consider the grotesque inequities in funding for education, health care and housing between Indigenous communities and communities of the dominant cultures—if not yet the full implications of the vision of “right relationship” that inspires many.

These events remind me why I came back to Canada in 2000 after six very satisfying years in central Mexico: I like my life and work there.

But it seemed to me than (as it still does now) that the blocks to liberation in the global “South” are situated here in the “North”—financial systems (banks, commodity speculation, etc.), consumerism as the key driver of economic growth, and ecological destruction through resource extraction.

Another world is possible

The people of Mexico and most other “developing” countries, it seems to me, actually have their processes of social change well in hand. Even more than development assistance, they need a makeover of the global economic system so that freedoms are not guaranteed to corporations and mega-investors, but to people and communities who offer different visions of development.

While Latin Americans have used elections in the past decade to tilt their governments’ priorities towards the needs of people long ignored, northern governments are if anything more resolute than ever in their defence of top-down solutions to the financial crises and opposition to meaningful strategies to cut carbon emissions.

My employer, The United Church of Canada, together with churches around the world, works to help people understand what is going on with poverty, wealth and ecology around the world. Churches also look at globalization issues through the lens of “empire”—how systems of political and economic power function to benefit a tiny minority of people.

In recent decades, we have learned that solidarity can be built among diverse sectors in different places working on different issues while we all confront systems of power that exclude people and destroy the environment. The World Social Forum, with its theme “Another World is Possible,” is just one expression of new ways of sharing the Earth.

2 Responses to Canada’s examination of conscience

  1. Hi, heres my blog. As far as I know, no one else is sending the community houses. Not even for the kids and babies.
    NOt red cross
    Not the government
    Not the churches
    Not habitat for humanity (i wrote them – not a disaster org..)
    Not anybody.

    I will try.

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