Three Canadian women religious from the Sisters of Charity Federation participated in the 2016 World Social Forum (WSF) August 9-14 in Montreal, Quebec with thousands of people from around the world.
The two Acadian (French-speaking) women religious were Sisters Hélène Allain of Moncton, New Brunswick (photo above left) and Irène Leger of Pointe-de-l’Église, Nova Scotia (center). They are members of Les Religieuses de Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur (NDSC). From Saint John, N.B., Sister Roma De Robertis (right) participated on behalf of Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception. The SCIC also invited Maria Olalde to participate in the WSF. Originally from Colombia, she is a political science student at the University of New Brunswick Saint John.
Held for the first time in the Global North, the gathering of civil society (non-governmental) organizations, social movements, activists and engaged citizens affirmed the theme, “Another world is needed. Together, it is possible!” Also in Montreal, Sister Roma participated in the ecumenical World Forum on Theology and Liberation (WFTL) held August 8-13 with the theme, “Resist, Hope, Invent: Another World is Possible!”
The three Federation Sisters are also long-time members of the Canadian JPIC Atlantic network. Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation is a service of the Canadian Religious Conference, which participated in the theological forum.
The first WSF was held in 2001 in Brazil in response to rapid expansion of globalization policies creating exclusion, poverty and environmental degradation. The Montreal forum offered more than 1,000 presentations and activities in French, English and Spanish focusing on social justice, peace, human rights, climate justice and ecological sustainability. The presence, wisdom and rights of Indigenous peoples were highlighted, as was the urgent need to recognize and change colonial attitudes, policies, practices and legislation.
The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace was an official WSF partner, with a strong emphasis on youth participation and international guest speakers. Also engaged on forum panels and in workshops and creative events were leaders from KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.
Photo by Charles Antoine Leboeuf