Barbara Gajda, left and Janelle de Rocquigny stand with solidarity banners before departing for Rio de Janeiro. The banner on the left was signed by D&P Manitoba members at St. Ignatius parish and St. Boniface Cathedral and the banner on the right was painted by the youth of St. Boniface Cathedral. Photo by Bogumil Gajda

D&P delegation to take part in parallel summit to Rio+20

  • June 8, 2012

Kaitlyn Duthie-Kannikkatt’s understanding of the Holy Spirit is a huge motivating factor in her going to the People’s Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 15-23.

Organized parallel to Rio+20, the June 20-22 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Duthie-Kannikkatt is one of nine young women under 30 years of age travelling with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace on a Solidarity Tour. 

“I see this gathering, but also the work that’s being done all over the world by activists and social movements that are going to be participating in the People’s Summit, as a huge and meaningful manifestation of the Holy Spirit at work,” said Duthie-Kannikkatt, 22, anglophone youth representative on D&P’s national council. “Being able to see all of that come to a head in one place will be a totally incredible spiritual experience that can’t be passed up.”

The People’s Summit is an alternative summit where activists claim a space because they feel underrepresented at the official Rio+20 Summit, she said.

“It’s a gathering of activists from social movements all across South America, and from across the world, that are engaging in their communities already on issues of ecological justice.”

At the People’s Summit, the group will be participating in workshops and events hosted by organizations discussing major questions around sustainable development and the alternatives civil society can bring forward to our respective governments, said Shelley Burgoyne, youth programs officer at D&P.

So while D&P won’t be going into Rio+20 directly, it will be represented on an official level by the International Alliance of Catholic Development Agencies.

Every year, D&P hosts a Solidarity Tour for youth in order to see firsthand the work of its partners on the ground, said Burgoyne.

“This year, with the focus of our campaign for the next five years being ecological justice, it was great timing to introduce another level of social justice work to our youth.”

Barbara Gajda, 30, plans to learn the stories of the people who are directly affected by the decisions of the multinational corporations and governments.

“I want to bring them back to Canada to raise awareness among my community and encourage people to not just think of these problems as detached from our everyday life,” said Gajda, anglophone youth representative for the D&P education programs committee.

A teacher in Winnipeg, Gajda is on the Solidarity Trip to learn.

“Poverty is still with us and I want to better understand what are all the contributing factors to keeping some communities extremely wealthy and keeping other communities extremely poor.”

Duthie-Kannikkatt said what they’re looking for out of the Rio+20 Summit is binding international agreements that will attach, particularly from governments of the Global North, to meaningful action on climate change, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the large carbon footprint and resources that we take up in the world.

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