Summer Student Reflections

This summer, ACIC was able to secure funding through Canada Summer Jobs to hire two interns. These students helped with various projects over the summer and have been a great help overall! With their terms here ending, here are their reflections on their time here, and what’s in store for the future.

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Your Voice Matters series: Youth Engagement and the SDGs

*This blog post was developed based off the ACIC study, Your Voice Matters: Engaging Canadian Youth on the Sustainable Development Goals, as funded by the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Program. The whole report can be found here.*

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In the final part of our blog series, we would like to wrap up with what we discovered about engaging youth with Agenda 2030. As part of the roundtables and interviews, we asked youth and youth-serving professionals about what they felt would aid in getting youth engaged with the Goals.

The main suggestion we heard was that it’s most effective to engage youth through educational institutions, interacting with both educators and students. Ideally, SDG-related content could be incorporated into curricula in order to raise awareness and potential action among students. According to some participants connected to provincial education, teachers are already encouraged to structure their curricula to include emerging global issues.

Another suggestion that came up frequently was the importance of valuing youth. Self-worth and confidence are feelings that made youth care more about the SDGs and contributing to them. Some ways that organizations can contribute to youth confidence and participation are formal recognition of youth accomplishments (i.e. awards), avoiding assumptions about youth culture, and truly listening to what they have to say about relevant issues.

Instilling a community connection to youth engagement with the SDGs was also a strong suggestion. Having youth see their importance as active contributors to their communities helps them see their own role in participating in sustainable development. As well, providing guidance from supportive community leaders engages youth in actionable life experiences.

Another major suggestion was having a connection to culture and expression. Using artistic, creative outlets allows youth to deepen their understanding of the SDGs through creating links to what they care about.

From this study, we saw that youth were outspoken and wanted to participate in leadership roles. While youth-led groups are the ideal way to get youth engaged with the SDGs, youth leaders did voice the need for some guidance from professionals in their initiatives. Despite that, youth leadership is a great way for young people to have responsibility and agency in developing the SDGs.

Finally, having safer spaces was identified as another important element of engaging youth with the SDGs. We define safer spaces as those where participants can develop a sense of belonging, where youth feel like they can trust and be open with others within these spaces. This provides youth with inclusive spaces to explore the SDGs, and to voice their opinions on matters related to them.

This concludes our series on Your Voice Matters. For further information on the methodology and results of our study, please refer to the full version of the report.

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Your Voice Matters Series: Barriers to Implementing the SDGs

*This blog post was developed based off the study ACIC study, Your Voice Matters: Engaging Canadian Youth on the Sustainable Development Goals, as funded by the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Program. The whole report can be found here.*

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In our study on how best to engage youth with the SDGs, it was important to also discuss barriers to their implementation. While 2030 appears to give us plenty of time to implement large-scale changes to our global society, there are challenges that can and will affect this progress. We asked the youth and youth-serving professionals of our study about what barriers they felt were in the way to reaching the Goals.

One of the main themes that came up during roundtable conversations was politics and leadership. Participants expressed concerns that current political leaders were not as highly invested in the SDGs as they should be. Youth who belonged to youth-led groups expressed issues with getting politicians to commit to work related to the SDGs as well. This poses as a barrier to achieving the SDGs, as political leaders and parties are the ones able to make the larger, policy-backed changes needed to implement some of the goals. Seeing a lack of interest or commitment from these parties can be discouraging for those people, especially youth, who are working on the SDGs.

Another major barrier for implementing the SDGs is resistance to change. Participants in the study recognized that working to implement the Goals would result in compromises and lifestyle changes that some Canadians would not be lightly willing to make.

This resistance is connected to another of the barriers: a sense of being overwhelmed. The problems of the world, the seriousness of the work required, and the element of the unknown connected to implementing the SDGs were cited by participants as being an overwhelming barrier to their implementation.

Many of the participants saw Canada’s potential for successful implementation of the SDGs as being inherently dependent upon healthy relationships and partnerships with Indigenous peoples and systems of governance, and the ability, as a country, to honour the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Participants in the roundtables expressed concern that Canada already has a responsibility to this work, and that our government cannot fully advocate for the Goals until there is true progress towards reconciliation and decolonization.

Participants also cited inequities as a major challenge for Canada’s work towards the SDGs. On a global scale, and despite its commitment to international assistance, Canada is still among the more developed countries that rely on labour and products produced in developing nations, which affects achievement of the SDGs in those countries. At home, and on an individual scale, some Canadians are unable to participate in work towards the Goals due to their financial circumstances, food security, or health situations.

Another big barrier to the implementation of the SDGs is the lack of awareness some people have. Some participants only learned about the goals through the study and felt that more could be done to increase broader public awareness.

Ultimately, the barriers participants gave voice to represent major challenges to implementing the SDGs in Canada. However, through continuing the discussion, we can raise awareness of these issues and work to reduce inequalities while increasing inclusivity, with the aim of leaving no one behind.

Your Voice Matters Series: Defining Sustainable Development and Relevant Goals

*This blog post was developed based off the ACIC study, Your Voice Matters: Engaging Canadian Youth on the Sustainable Development Goals, as funded by the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Program. The whole report can be found here.*

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From the roundtables and interviews we conducted in the Atlantic region, ACIC was able to get a better idea of how youth and those that work with youth understand sustainable development and the SDGs.

When asked about the definition of sustainable development, participants related it to long-term thinking. The Goals are meant to better the world for the generations to come, and the conditions for achieving them can and will change over time. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development should be considered a living document, where the conditions for success will change and evolve.

As well, participants suggested that sustainable development needed to be understood as value-based and inclusive. This is part of the global shift from a solely “bottom line” approach to development, where economic growth is the only measure of success. Rather, many of the participants suggested that morals, values and spirituality should be part of the foundation of sustainable development towards the Goals.

A lot of the discussions from this study focused on developing inclusivity and creating a sense of in-it-togetherness. Youth kept coming back to the importance of equity and shared responsibility when asked about achieving the Goals—in order for the SDGs to be realized, everyone needs to band together to take action. This includes, importantly, ensuring that there are spaces in participatory action for traditionally under-represented or marginalized voices.

An important part of the sessions was determining how individuals felt about the SDGs. Participants in the study thought that the use of colourful graphics helped to make the Goals clear and engaging. While many were uncertain about the goals being achieved by 2030, they appreciated the aspirational nature of the Agenda and what it represents. The phrasing of the goals, such as “No Poverty” and “No Hunger,” gives the Agenda an ambitiously high aim.

Participants also identified goals that they felt were important to their communities and to the wider country. For youth, Climate Action was the most relevant, followed by Gender Equality and Quality Education. Meanwhile, professionals rated Quality Education as the most relevant, with Gender Equality, Climate Action and Good Health and Wellbeing following. These disparities show a generational difference in the priorities youth and adults have when it comes to the Goals.

It’s also crucial to mention that Indigenous youth and professionals rated Life on Land very highly. Participants explained that this goal was most closely related to the preservation of Indigenous culture and its connection to the land. This demonstrates that differences in cultural upbringing and location can also affect which SDGs people prioritize. As well, it shows how the goals can be interpreted differently to reflect the results that different groups want to see in their own communities.

From our 1-on-1 interviews and roundtable discussions with youth and youth-serving professionals, we learned how the SDGs are viewed and understood by a few different age groups and demographics in the Atlantic provinces. For youth, sustainable development comes down to doing something for everyone’s common good, and doing so knowing that the benefits will outweigh the costs. Our work also provided us with valuable input into which SDGs are most relevant to Atlantic Canadian youth, which informs which goals we’ll use for public engagement geared towards young people.

Want to read more about insights into engaging Atlantic Canadian youth with the Sustainable Development Goals? Read the report here.

Your Voice Matters Series: A Focus on Youth and the SDGs

*This blog post was developed out of the ACIC report Your Voice Matters: Engaging Canadian Youth on the Sustainable Development Goals, as funded by the Government of Canada’s Sustainable Development Goals Unit. The whole report can be found here.*

Here at ACIC, we value the voices of youth, and we work directly with youth and youth-serving organizations in Atlantic Canada. When Canada signed onto the Agenda 2030, and in turn agreed to share responsibility for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we wondered how these goals could be used to engage youth with international development. Though the SDGs benefit everyone, youth will have both the most potential impact and receive the most benefit from the goals in the long term.

When it comes to engaging youth on the SDGs, the main themes we want to stress are global citizenship and participation. Previous research has shown that youth in Canada are actively participating in measures of citizenship in our country; they belong to advocacy or interest groups, and they volunteer their time. Youth have also been effective at holding government accountable for the SDGs since their implementation in 2015, and they know how to influence others to get engaged. This shows that they’re willing and ready to be global citizens and participate in sustainable development.

Several researchers in the last few years have investigated how best to engage youth audiences with international development. In a 2015 study by the Bond network, they highlighted the importance of social media engagement, as services like Instagram and Twitter are primary sources of information for youth on an everyday basis. As we all know, social media plays an important role in the lives of young people, allowing them to stay connected with their networks, and in a broader sense, with the world. Through maintaining both an active social presence and energized social media campaigns, organizations can do well by engaging youth through these platforms.

Just last year, a research team led by Evelina Baczewska noticed that youth involved in social change use online as well as ‘real world’ outreach to engage with their networks. This connects to the Bond report’s findings regarding social media, but also establishes that engagement with youth is just as important within the offline sphere. This is especially true when it comes to creating local networks in communities that provide youth with opportunities to participate in decision-making. When looked to for input, youth will become far more engaged at a local level.

And local engagement can lead to global thinking, especially in diverse spaces with people from all over the world. In a study of universities and colleges from 2015, a group discovered that post-secondary institutions are often the hotspots that house opportunities for youth to engage in sustainable development. The field of youth education is a special area of focus for sustainable development practitioners, as education can act as a “motor for change.” Educational institutions provide youth with the resources to learn about sustainable development, as well as the space to engage and connect with other like-minded youth who share their passions.

All three of these studies show that youth engagement is an important area of sustainable development, and that there are proven methods for success. They not only describe effective strategies, but also demonstrate the ways in which youth become involved. Whether through social media or real-world networks, the evidence is there: we and organizations like us can develop strategies to engage youth and encourage them to participate in global, sustainable change.

Our own, recent work is a testament to our commitment to youth involvement in sustainable development. Through the Spring of 2019, we held roundtable discussions and interviews with youth and youth-serving professionals across Atlantic Canada. These led to the publication of our report Your Voice Matters, which was created with the goal of recommending actionable answers to the question: how to best engage/interest youth in the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development?

Over a two-month period, we spoke with 70 youth and 43 youth-serving professionals. In this blog series, we‘ll share what we discovered from talking to youth, and the people who work with them, about being engaged—and engaging others—with ideas and action around sustainable development.

Works Cited:

Anand, C.K., Bisaillon, V., Webster, A., & Amor, B. (2015). Integration of sustainable development in higher education: A regional initiative in Quebec (Canada). Journal of Cleaner Production 108. 916-923.

Baczewska, E., Cachon, M.F., Daniel, Y., & Selimos, E.D. (2018). Mapping the terrain of strategic politics among social change-orientated youth. Journal of Youth Studies 21(3). 288-303.

Bond. (2015). Engaging generation z: Motivating youth people to engage positively with international development. Retrieved from https://www.bond.org.uk/resources/engaging-generation-z

Sustainable Development Goals Unit. (2019). Discussion guide: Canada’s implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development: Working towards developing a national strategy. Retrieved from http://s3.ca-central-1.amazonaws.com/ehq-production-canada/documents/attachments/921ff3454ae3d2d750ebae6671c3e77fac53461d/000/015/435/original/Discussion_Guide_WEB.pdf?1556305624

United Nations. (2005). UN decade of education for sustainable development, 2005-2014: The DESD at a glance. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000141629.

LGBTQ2S+ Voices in Sustainable Development

My name is Lindsay Vandewater and I work for Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC). I am a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community in Halifax and a passionate advocate for queer rights. I have a background working in social equity, and as someone constantly engaged with the issues faced by queer people, I have hosted a handful of Pride events in the past.

Prior to my time at ACIC, they conducted a great piece of research on youth and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), entitled Your Voice Matters. In this research, ACIC sought out youth and youth-serving organizations in Atlantic Canada in order to determine how best to engage Canadian youth on global, regional, and local sustainability. After reading the report, I asked the question I always tend to ask: "what about queer people?" I thought to myself that surely this research could be done with other demographics. I started researching what sustainable development means to LGBTQ2S+ communities, only to find many organizations discussing an exclusion-by-omittance aspect of sustainable development. It surprised me to see that there is very little explicit mention of LGBTQ2S+ people in the SDGs, seeing as the more socially oriented goals focus on gender equality and reducing inequalities.

What does sustainable development mean?

The United Nations Development Program describes human development as “expanding the richness of human life… It is an approach that is focused on creating fair opportunities and choices for all people." Based on human development, as well as building upon the previously established Millennium Development Goals, the UN created Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development with accompaniment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Agenda 2030 focuses on 17 universal aspirational goals, complete with target objectives, that are meant to be achieved in the 15 years between 2015-2030.

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“There are 17 goals all based on a single, guiding principle: to leave no one behind. We will only realize this vision if we reach all people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
— Ban Ki-Moon, Former UN Secretary General, 2015

"Leave no one behind" is the common thread that binds the 17 goals together as a collective plan for sustainable development. As a broad framework, the Agenda is meant to by adapted by individual countries to their own social, economic, and environmental needs. When Canada signed on to the Agenda in 2015, it made commitments to the SDGs while adapting each of the goals to benefit Canadians and supplement Canada's capacity to help with global change.

So, what does "leave no one behind" mean to communities who are not consulted or explicitly included in the Agenda? What does it mean to queer Canadians and those living in Canada when we see our country focusing more on the environmental aspects of Agenda 2030 than the societal aspects? How do we ensure that our voices are heard in the march towards achieving the 17 goals?

Global Identities of LGBTQ2S+ Communities

As one of the first countries to adopt same-sex marriage, Canada remains one of the leading countries in human rights for LGBTQ2S+ people. In 2017, Canada adopted protections for gender identity and expressions, adding to the already-established protections based on sexual orientation. That being said, queer people still have an uphill battle to reach equality. Canada holds steady on the archaic blood donation ban for gay men and limited ability for trans people to donate; gender expression is not legally protected in all provinces and territories; and conversion therapy is a political chip currently on the table in Canada. These are just some of the political issues LGBTQ2S+ communities face.

According to The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), there are 141 other countries that have at least some protections for LGBTQ2S+ people. In 2019, we have seen a considerable amount of headway made towards global gay rights, including votes to legalize same-sex marriage in Austria, Taiwan, Ecuador, and Northern Ireland.

Conversely, there are 125 countries worldwide that, as of July 2019, have no protections—or even criminalize—same-sex relationships, including 11 countries that may still enforce the death penalty (see ILGA map above). The range of experiences and protections differ from country to country, but it is clear that, in a global context, LGBTQ2S+ people face serious barriers to equality.

Of the 17 SDGs, several are directly related to queer communities globally, while many are more loosely tied to issues in queer communities. As we will see, regardless of whether the specific goals are directly related to queer people, all of the goals are inter-related. This means that if even just one goal is directly related to queer people, then as a collective the SDGs are significant to the community; if queer experiences can give insight on just one of the goals, then those experiences will be necessary to consider in all other goals. For example, poverty is a serious concern for people in LGBTQ2S+ communities, especially for young people. Later in this post I will explain how poverty is both created by, but also creates, a wide range of issues that are represented by many of the other SDGs.

Breaking down (some of) the goals

To understand the impact that queer communities could have on achieving the SDGs, and vice versa, it’s worth looking at the goals themselves. I have selected just a few of the goals to discuss. I won’t go too deep into discussing each of them, but will try to paint a picture of the significance that these goals have to LGBTQ2S+ identities.

Equality and Equity

Goal 5, Gender Equality, is one of the most relevant goals that could benefit from the input of LGBTQ2S+ people. Looking at this goal’s targets (see below), it’s clear that the UN has focused their definition for gender equality on the equality between men and women. However, our understanding of gender expression and gender identity is constantly evolving. Essential to fully understanding gender equality is understanding the concerns of people still on the fringes of equality, especially those who identify as trans or non-binary. What will gender equality between men and women mean to someone who is non-binary?

Women’s Rights

By not just excluding, but omitting queer people from the discussion, we are omitting generations of lesbian, bisexual, and trans women who have fought to establish not only queer rights, but also women's rights. Generations of queer women have ridden the waves of feminism, and their experiences should count for something. Intersectionality, or the concept that each layer of identity can potentially be affected by different forms of discrimination that intersect with one another, is a factor that needs to be included in any conversation about gender equality. Womanhood is intersectional, and to leave out any of the intersecting identities that women possess devalues the global struggle for gender equality.

To put it simply, inequality comes from imbalances in power and privilege. Above, I mention intersectionality, and how significant it is to understanding gender equality. But intersectionality is just as important in understanding any aspect of someone's identity and becomes increasingly important as we consider other identity factors like race, ethnicity, religion, sexual and gender orientation/expression, physical and mental ability, and social class.

Health and Well-being

Without a doubt, even in 2019, LGBTQ2S+ people across the world experience lower quality-of-life, even in countries like Canada that have progressive laws protecting queer people. Whether the issue be violence, discrimination, lack of proper or accessible health services, or even the systematic exclusion from quality education, decent work, or community engagement, queer people experience a pile of issues that degrade their health and everyday well-being.

Retrieved from: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-1-no-poverty.html

Retrieved from: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals/goal-1-no-poverty.html

Homelessness and Poverty

LGBTQ2S+ poverty is a multi-faceted concern. There are a wide range of issues that contribute to poverty, and homelessness can cause—and exacerbate—those very same issues. In Canada, it is estimated that around 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ2S+. Consider the amount of violence and discrimination any given person experiences when homeless. That issue becomes compounded when considering the hate crimes people experience just based on sexual or gender identities. Further, homelessness will drastically affect one's ability to secure decent work and obtain a quality education (two of the SDGs).

Violence directed at queer-identified people is a global problem, despite many countries legislating governmental protections (see ILGA image above). Statistics Canada reports that people identified as lesbian, gay, and bisexual are much more likely to experience violent discrimination than heterosexual-identified people. Further, it is almost impossible to read news coming out of the United States without hearing about the ousting of trans people and the unbelievable amount of trans women who are murdered in hate crimes. We saw the horrific examples of targeted violence towards gay and bisexual men in the Chechen gay purges. Violence perpetrated against LGBTQ2S+ people not only affects the physical and mental health of the person who was victimized, but also the health of the community itself, which links directly with SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities (more below).

Physical Health

Even apart from violence, many identities in the LGBTQ2S+ community require different levels of attention when the issue comes to physical health and medical attention. Intersex-identified people have long experienced tumultuous relationships with medical professionals. In fact, one of the most recognizable and tragic stories of mismanaged intersex healthcare comes out of Canada, with the case of David Reimer. Further, trans-identified people face barriers in accessing medical professionals who are properly suited to provide hormone treatment and/or perform gender reassignment surgery.

Mental Illness and Substance Abuse

Queer Canadians are at much higher risk of experiencing depression, suicidality, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and substance abuse than their heterosexual counterparts. Compounding the issue is the lack of medical services that are both accessible and accommodating to queer people. In broad strokes, we can attribute mental health concerns to anyone who experiences discrimination, especially for LGBTQ2S+ people in countries where there are fewer protections than there are in Canada, where 38% of Indigenous youth who identified as LGBTQ2S+ were unable to access mental health services when they needed to, compared to 27% of Indigenous heterosexual cisgender youth.

Communities and Peace

Sustainable Development Goals 11 and 16 tie well together to highlight the importance of LGBTQ2S+ voices in sustainable development. You can read more about LGBTQ2S+ people and Goal 11 in an article by the advocacy group OutRight UN, which is one of the few resources that outlines clear actions items. In order to achieve peaceful and sustainable communities in any part of the world, we need to consider the barriers that produce inequalities for any given person (see SDG 11 targets in image to the left). With this in mind, the fact that countries have sparsely considered LGBTQ2S+ people in their targets for achieving sustainable development is that much more baffling. However, the justice systems and the development of strong, inclusive policies and procedures for institutions may help in leveling out the kind of imbalances caused by power and privilege.

I want to make clear is that I do not believe that queer rights should come before the rights of any other underrepresented community. I believe that achieving the SDGs in their full capacity will be an improvement for so many struggling communities around the world. We need to strive for equality together, regardless of the communities we belong to. In fact, our differing communities can even be beneficial to one another in our fight for equality. It is incredibly important to share our thoughts and experiences with others so we can inform each other on the struggles that our communities are experiencing.

That being said, I believe LGBTQ2S+ communities provide a fascinating example on how the SDGs can affect, but also be informed by, any given community. A necessary point to make in this post is that as the rights for gay and trans people develop and grow in North America, so do the experiences that LGBTQ2S+ communities face when dealing with the struggle for those rights.

These experiences create a potential space where LGBTQ2S+ communities in protected countries can not only share their voices to advocate for queer communities around the globe who are still deeply struggling, but they can also share the experiences of queer liberation to create platforms for those still fighting. By sharing our stories as a collective, we can spark change to help others reduce the inequalities they face.

As I have identified in this post, queer communities are heavily affected by the concerns that have influenced the creation of the SDGs. Even in Canada alone, LGBTQ2S+ people struggle with health and well-being, discrimination and hate crimes, and poverty, among other concerns. Yet minimal effort is made to include the voices of queer communities in Canada's achievement of the SDGs. So, how do we ensure that our voices are heard in sustainable development? How do we ensure that we are not, in fact, left behind? We need to talk about the issues we face. We need to use the platforms we are given to direct conversation to our exclusion and continue to fight for platforms so others can do the same.

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you are interested in furthering our discussion on sustainable development, you can attend the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation’s event LGBTQ2S+ Voices in Sustainable Development at the Foggy Goggle on July 25th.

Intern in Kenya- a photo essay

Owen Gould from Waycobah, NS works on Preserving Traditional/Elders’ Knowledge, the Community Water Wells Project, and Wildlife Conservation with Run for Life and the Rift Valley Resource Centre.

See more about the International Internships for Indigenous Youth (IIIY) program HERE.

Click on the photo below to see his photo essay:

Interns (L to R) Cassidy McKellop, Maisyn Sock, Owen Gould, and Roman Levi with Park Ranger William.

Interns (L to R) Cassidy McKellop, Maisyn Sock, Owen Gould, and Roman Levi with Park Ranger William.

UNICEF Grant Enables NSGA to Lead Project

UNICEF Grant Enables NSGA to Lead Project for Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) in the Gambia

The NSGA was founded in the mid-1980s by a group of Nova Scotians, and has a 33 year history of development work in The Gambia focusing on education, health, and community development. Since 1990, the NSGA has used its “signature” project (a unique, school and community-based peer health education program) in virtually every middle school, high school, and village in the country.

That program will now be tapped to try and help bring an end to the centuries-old and still-pervasive practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in The Gambia. The 2013 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) indicated that the prevalence of FGM/C among women aged 15-49 in the Gambia was at 75%.

The potential negative physical effects of FGM/C are severe. Early complications include urinary retention, infection, and bleeding, while late complications include long-term urinary issues, scarring, pain, fertility/sexuality difficulties, and infection. The psychological effects can be as debilitating as the physical complications, with PTSD, depression, anxiety, and somatization reported.

National Program Manager Abdou Kanteh with Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

National Program Manager Abdou Kanteh with Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

In December 2015, after years of advocacy against the practice, the Gambian Government amended legislation to finally prohibit it in the country. However the practice is both widespread and deeply ingrained in The Gambia and neighboring countries, and is expected to take years to eliminate entirely.

UNICEF has engaged the NSGA to actively tackle the issue by financing this new project. The NSGA-led pilot will last six months and then be assessed for effectiveness and potential expansion. The total grant is nearly 6.5 million Gambian Dalasi ($170,000 Canadian), and along with its direct role the NSGA will administer five other Gambian not-for-profit organizations.

NSGA’s special mandate will include using its professional drama troupes to perform educational plays in selected local villages and communities, followed-up by discussions in local languages; using the drama troupes to identify and train existing community groups in the rural areas to conduct their own dramatic performances and information sessions; leveraging the Peer Health Education strategy to educate students in 16 secondary schools across the country, who will in turn educate thousands of their fellow students.

Abdou and NSGA Peer Health Educators, teachers, and the school principal after a monitoring session .

Abdou and NSGA Peer Health Educators, teachers, and the school principal after a monitoring session.

For more information, please visit www.novascotiagambia.ca or contact National Program Manager Abdou Kanteh (abdoukanteh@novascotiagambia.ca), or the Board of Directors (1574 Argyle Street, Suite 17, Halifax, Nova Scotia, B3J 2B3. Phone: (902) 423-1360. Fax: (902) 429-9004. Email: info@novascotiagambia.ca).

CFI's award-winning documentary to air on National Geographic

(CFI screened the full length version at ACIC’s Symposium in 2017!)

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Kokota: The Islet of Hope tells the story of one community’s journey to overcome climate change on their fragile island in the Zanzibar Archipelago, where we have been working since 2008. After 35 international film festivals and 7 awards, we are now set to broadcast the film publicly! 

Before the full film is released, we want to give you a chance to view it on our website first

We are launching our most ambitious holiday campaign ever to coincide with the National Geographic broadcast and to bring the same climate solutions featured in the film to two more small islands in need - Njoa and Kisiwa-Panza. But we need your help to make it happen!

We are asking our friends and supporters to help us kickstart the campaign now by donating and sharing this email with 3 people you think will believe in the work and would enjoy a sneak peek of the film.

After a decade of hard work, we know this is our big opportunity to raise the profile of our small but mighty organization and attract the global support that frontline communities in Zanzibar need now to overcome climate change.

Thank You!

Tuko pamoja – We are together

A note from the Executive Director

Dear ACIC Members,

As we move deeper into autumn, I want to send out a message to update you on some of the news coming out of the sector and to make you aware of upcoming opportunities through ACIC and our work this fall. I also want to take the opportunity to share a little about the very positive experience that I had participating in the Rotary Peace Fellowship Program this summer.  I returned in mid-September, feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, with a much deeper knowledge of peacebuilding and conflict prevention, and many new ideas for how we might become stronger as a coalition. 

Sector News:

Sexual Misconduct 

Many of you will have kept abreast of what has been happening in the sector around sexual violence and the work that is taking place to address it. I would like to draw your attention to the CCIC Leaders' Pledge to Prevent and Address Sexual Misconduct, a statement of commitment to be signed by the Presidents, CEOs, and Executive Directors of CCIC members and others in the global development and humanitarian sector. By signing the Pledge, sector leaders will commit to a set of concrete actions to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct in our sector.

Today, I join CCIC in asking you to do three things:

  1. Sign the Pledge. If you haven't done so already, the best time to sign the Pledge on behalf of your organization is right now. Please sign-on online.

  2. Socialize the Pledge inside your organization. Share your commitment with your staff, to ensure that they know you have signed on and understand what it means for your organization's policy, programming, and culture.

  3. Share the Pledge. Contact your fellow leaders in the sector, asking them if they have signed on and encourage them to do so. We want this sectoral commitment to be as inclusive and comprehensive as possible, because only then will we see truly transformative change.

GAC cost-sharing guidelines

Global Affairs Canada has recently released its new Policy on Cost-Sharing for Grant and Non-Repayable Contribution Agreements. This information is now available on the Contracting Publication section of the website: Policy on Cost-Sharing for Grant and Non-Repayable Contribution Agreements and Questions and Answers - Policy on Cost-Sharing for Grant and Non-Repayable Contribution Agreements.

Some key changes are as follows:

  • cost-share requirements have been lowered to 5% (from a previous range of up to 25%);

  • the exemption for humanitarian projects has been maintained;

  • non-Canadian funding sources can be included; and

  • there has been clarification around in-kind contributions.

 OECD Peer Review

OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) has recently put out its Peer Review of Canada’s Development Cooperation program.

Many of the recommendations listed by the OECD concern areas of ongoing collaboration between Global Affairs Canada and Canadian Civil Society organizations (as led by the CCIC) - particularly regarding cutting red tape and increasing efficiencies.

The report also lays out important areas for continued improvement, including Canada’s decline in ODA  (official development assistance) spending relative to ODI (outward direct investment) and encourages the government to chart a course to reverse this trend.  

Summer 2018 Highlights:

Many of you joined us for a very successful symposium and AGM in Charlottetown this June.  We were thrilled to have Sheila Watt-Cloutier as our keynote speaker and hosted a variety of diverse capacity building activities, which have received extremely positive feedback from participants.  During our AGM, we passed a resolution that has introduced a new category of membership: Student-led Campus Organizations.  We had noticed over the years that membership fees have been prohibitive to student groups, but that their involvement in ACIC activities and events has added great value to our work.  With a reduced rate and a solid plan for engaging new groups, we anticipate that over the next year we will increase our membership and be more inclusive of youth and student-led groups.

Governance:

We were delighted to welcome three new board members this June.  Valeri Pilgrim joins us from Memorial University as Director-at-Large, Scott Smith was elected as a Director-at-Large representing Latin America Mission Program (LAMP), and Madalyn Nielson from Dal Agricultural College, joins as our Director-at-Large. ACIC’s new Board Executive is as follows: ACIC Board Chair, Freddy Wangabo Mwenengabo; Treasurer, John Cameron and Secretary, Valeri Pilgrim. 

Governance responsibilities also include chairing one of ACIC’s committees. Our committees are open to ACIC member organizations, so please contact us at ACIC if you have an interest in engaging in any of our committee work. 

ACIC Committee Chairs:

  • Governance Committee: Nick Scott

  • Membership Committee: Madalyn Nielson

  • Finance Committee: John Cameron

  • Risk Management Committee: Laura Hunter

  • Ad hoc Symposium Committee: Valeri Pilgrim

We have just finished a very successful board and staff retreat, where we came together to discuss important governance and operation issues, and to build our capacity as a team.  I am thrilled to have such a strong board and staff team to support ACIC’s work, and feel confident that the collective skills and experience we have will undoubtedly result in excellence. 

Youth Programs:

International Internships for Indigenous Youth (IIIY)

On October 1, our 20 indigenous youth interns departed from Pearson International after ten days of pre-departure training.  Through a partnership with the Northern Council for Global Cooperation (NCGC), GPI Atlantic, the Native Council of PEI, and the Confederacy of Mainland Mi’kmaq, we successfully recruited a diverse group of interns, primarily from Atlantic and Northern Canada.   Teams of four interns will be working with our southern partners in Nepal, Cambodia, Kenya, Costa Rica, and Guyana.  Upon their return in early February, they will work with us during International Development Week (IDW) to share information about their experiences abroad.

ACT 4 Global Change Youth Conference

We have just finished the selection process for our upcoming youth conference, to be held this year in Nova Scotia at the Tatamagouche Centre.  Approximately 50 youth (between the ages of 15 and 17) will come together from November 9-12 to learn about global issues.  Through interactive activities, discussion, games, reflection and more, the conference will explore topics such as:

  • peace & conflict

  • human rights

  • Indigenous realities

  • the Sustainable Development Goals

  • refugee experiences

  • poverty & food sovereignty

  • gender equity

  • environment & sustainability 

  • international trade (fair trade) & food security

  • global migration

  • 2SLGBTQ+ realities

  • water and sanitation

The conference is an opportunity for youth to get informed, get inspired and take action on local and global issues in a safe and welcoming space. Participants will meet and engage with a diversity of youth from a variety of communities and cultures from all four Atlantic provinces. 

Youth Gender Equality Program

ACIC continues to work with Plan Canada and the Canadian Teacher’s Foundation on the Youth for Gender Equality program. 

Over the Fall ACIC will host six dialogues (one in NB, two in PE, two in NL, one in NS), with the possibly of adding one to this list (one in NL and one in NS). The NB dialogue with is with MP Matt Decourcey’s office and two possible dialogues to be added are with MP Andy Fillmore and MP Seamus O’Regan. 

ACIC is working with various member organizations, partners and community contacts to help recruit youth leads for these dialogues and youth participants. We also continue to be actively involved with the YGE steering committee and the media working group. 

Our Membership:

ACIC has organized a number of capacity building and networking activities this fall, which we hope will enable our membership to come together to collaboratively learn and develop relationships. 

We are very excited to be partnering with the Alberta Council and other councils across Canada to host Together 2018 in Halifax and Charlottetown on November 5th. We will be also hosting one-day workshops on Peace-building Conflict Resolution in Fredericton and St. John’s in November (stay tuned for details), networking events in Charlottetown, Sackville and Halifax in October, and a two-day Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) workshop in Nova Scotia in February.  As always, travel subsides for members are available to support your participation, and we strongly encourage you to reach out to us if there are any ways in which we can further enhance your involvement in our programs and activities.

Finally, ACIC staff will be travelling this fall to meet with members, participate in sector events and to host networking meetings.  We hosted a successful networking event in Nova Scotia in October, and in November, there will be networking events in NB (Sackville)  PEI (Charlottetown) and NF (St. John’s)

Peace Fellowship:

After having completed my three-month studies at the Rotary Peace Center, Chulalongkorn University, I can only be grateful for the support of my family, my colleagues and my friends. It was at times challenging to be away from home and work, but the reflection of my personal, spiritual, academic and professional growth, and with the joy of having met wonderful people from 17 countries, the experience was nothing but positive. I have heard stories from colleagues, including those that have been directly impacted by conflict and inequality, that we should never forget, and have strengthened my conviction that dialogue and non-confrontation are the main tools for the construction of peace.

I return, more than ever, with the commitment to continue supporting opportunities for partnership and collaboration. The importance of learning more about what other organizations and individuals are doing cannot be overstated, and the relationships that have been developed with instructors and colleagues will undoubtedly influence this work moving forward. 

The program has also reinforced my belief that it is essential that we recognize that youth play an integral role in the peacebuilding process, and that in order for them to be agents of change, they must have the knowledge, skills and understanding of the global context to be able to do so.  I feel strongly that we must continue to work to build leadership so that youth can address systemic change through their work in peacebuilding and conflict resolution, which sometimes is the root of issues, and sometimes is an indicator of other factors shaping human conflict. 

Finally, I am excited to be able to reconnect with ACIC member organizations and to have conversations about peacebuilding as it relates to gender, human rights and engaging youth.  I hope to organize opportunities for us to have dialogues about peacebuilding efforts, within our networking meetings, through webinars and within our training activities. Please reach out to me to share stories about how your work is progressing, and how ACIC can better support you.