As I resume my Famvin articles, much has happened over the past summer months. Here in Canada we had the papal visit as Pope Francis came to meet and apologize to the Indigenous People of Canada for the residential schools. Covid is slowly allowing us to return to a more “normal” lifestyle. One thing that has not changed is the number of our fellow citizens living in poverty, facing uncertain futures with little hope and crying out to all Vincentians for help.
I have also found dramatic changes in how we once looked at systemic change and social justice. The issues that we are now working on have increased in number and scope. Important topics such as diversity, inclusion and equity, Indigenous Issues, criminal justice systems, environment and many more call out to us to act and advocate for change. One of the main components that we have always been taught about systemic change is the need to change current structures that tend to keep people living in poverty. Our own branches of the Vincentian family need to also change! While systemic change calls for a personal transformation in our own thinking, I wonder if this is enough.
There would appear to be a need to also transform our own structures and ways of thinking as organizations. Do we have a diversity and inclusion policy that result in a more culturally diverse membership? Have we done enough to engage with other like-minded organizations that can enhance our efforts? Do we seek to educate our members about the historically flawed treatment of Indigenous People in Canada and North America?
Is it time for a new social justice model that may fit more of these issues and attract new members and volunteers? Could this model be more inclusive of those that have no voice and enable their ability to speak out for change?
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is a Canadian Vincentian. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
I respectfully acknowledge the traditional, unceded territories of the Indigenous Peoples, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit, on which lands we meet, work and live.