Canadian Jesuits International: Committed to a just future for all
“A Just Future for All” is the theme of Canadian Jesuits International’s (CJI) 2020 Giving Tuesday campaign. It is a response to the deep inequalities in our society revealed by COVID-19 and the urgency to build a new future that is based on equality, justice and dignity for all. This is the first of a series of three blogs submitted by CJI and its overseas partners to explore this theme. To learn more, please visit: canadianjesuitsinternational.ca.
In July 2018, CJI organized a solidarity trip of Canadians, many of them teachers, to the Dominican Republic. In a heart-wrenching account, a community told us how a Canadian mining company had polluted their water and land, destroyed their source of income, and turned it into “a community of dead people, living in fear.”
The community, which the Jesuits in the Dominican Republic accompany, did not ask for funds, but requested we tell people in Canada what our companies are doing in other countries.
The experience inspired us to inform people back home and it galvanized us to participate in an ongoing national campaign to demand the Government of Canada to give the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise the power to independently investigate abuses by Canadian companies operating overseas.
That is but one of a number of campaigns we have been involved in. We are also currently supporting an international campaign of solidarity against the arbitrary arrest of Fr Stan Swamy, an 83 year old Jesuit who has dedicated his life to the defence of the rights of Indigenous people in India, the Adivasis.
These activities illustrate the change in how CJI lives out its mission since its inception 70 years ago. Formerly known as the Jesuit Mission Office, CJI supported Canadian missionaries working in Darjeeling, India, as well as in Nepal, Tibet, Uganda, Zambia and Jamaica.
They started projects in education, health care, agricultural training, social services, pastoral care, formation of youth, income generation and peace building which continue today. They also maintained strong, personal relations with people in Canada, building links of solidarity and friendship.
Today CJI remains deeply rooted in this long tradition, while at the same time responding in new ways to the current global context in order to build a “just future for all.” In a world marked by increasing disparities of wealth, massive displacements of people, war, violence and poverty, we cannot limit ourselves simply to transferring funds.
We need to listen attentively to the voice of those who are at the margins; to read the signs of the times; we need to support agents of change who are living the transformative power of the Gospel, working as equals. Together, we need to address unjust social structures to pave the way for a just future for all.
This translates into supporting Jesuit projects in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. These projects focus on strengthening social movements; giving voice to Indigenous leadership and networks; developing strategies for alternative economic development; providing quality education to students of all faiths with special emphasis on girls’ education; and supporting refugees and other forcibly displaced people to build new lives and by creating a culture of hospitality.
Our renewed mission has also translated into forming Canadian youth to be agents of change and to grow in love and compassion through a program called Youth 4 Others; and engaging in advocacy with other networks to address the root causes of poverty and injustice, including the defense of human rights, migration, climate change and governance of natural resources. By doing so, we move beyond charity and paternalism to justice and solidarity.
As was said in GC 36, “with the poor we can learn what hope and courage mean” (GC36, Decree 1: 15). By listening to the voices of those who are marginalized, we are transformed and are shown new ways of being human. Only then can we build a “just future for all.” We invite you to participate in this campaign and build a just future with us.
To find out more about the work of CJI visit www.canadianjesuitsinternational.ca