March 2014  
Indigenous rights, reconciliation, advocacy     

The highlight of a very busy February was undoubtedly our annual Student Seminar. This year's theme was "'Inconvenient' relationships? Indigenous rights, reconciliation and advocacy."

Thirty-two university students from six provinces came to Ottawa to learn about the fractured relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians, and to consider ways of fostering reconciliation.

With the assistance of Sue and Harley Eagle, co-coordinators of MCC Canada's Indigenous Work Program, we did the blanket exercise, learned about the Stoney Knoll story, listened to Indigenous partners and Members of Parliament, visited the Hill, and shared our learnings with each other through a traditional "talking circle."  

One student wrote, "It was deeply encouraging to hear of the continued work of Mennonites in Canada, in working as allies and supporting Indigenous resiliency."

View photo gallery.
Parliamentary business:    
A testimony on Syria

Also last month, MCC was very pleased to receive an invitation to make a presentation before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development in its deliberations on Canada's role in the Syria conflict.

Because the invitation arrived only days before the February 12 hearing, our staff scrambled to prepare. Thankfully, Bruce Guenther, director of disaster response for MCC, arrived from Winnipeg to assist Paul Heidebrecht, Ottawa Office director, with the testimony.

In their presentation, Paul and Bruce called on Canada to enhance its humanitarian assistance to Syria (and to Syrian refugees outside the country) and to strengthen its diplomatic engagement in support of a political settlement.

They also urged Canadian support for the grassroots peacebuilding initiatives of religious leaders and civil society organizations in Syria and surrounding countries.

Bruce (L) and Paul (R) prepare to make their presentation.
New resources:
for Lent and for Colombia 

The liturgical season of Lent began this year on March 5 and includes World Water Day (March 22). The Canadian Foodgrains Bank has prepared a packet of worship and advocacy resources on the theme of water. Consider using this resource for reflection and action during Lent.

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If your group or congregation has a special interest in Colombia, you will want to observe Days of Prayer and Action (DOPA) in April or some other suitable time. US churches have been involved with DOPA for years. Some Canadians also join with Colombian churches to pray and advocate for peace with justice in Colombia. 
Ottawa Office Newsletter archives
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In This Issue
Feature Article
Parliamentary Business
New Resources
Staff Update
of the month

"This -- [the theft of land from Indigenous people] -- is not something you did. But your part of history is to decide what do to about it. Your job is to write a new chapter of the narrative."

Rari -- Rarihokwats, Mohawk legal researcher and resource person, to participants in Ottawa Office Student Seminar.
Support the Arms Trade Treaty

Project Ploughshares
, longtime MCC partner, was a key player in the development of the Arms Trade Treaty, adopted by the UN in June 2013. Canada has not yet signed onto this important international agreement.

Please send a message to Prime Minister Harper, urging him to join the 116 other countries which have already signed onto the treaty and taken an important step toward limiting the flow of conventional weapons.    
Staff update


Monica Scheifele 

Program assistant 


Monica attended to much of the behind-the-scenes preparation for our recent Student Seminar: scouting out venues, handling registrations, inviting speakers, organizing visits to the Hill, and hosting!  Thanks Monica! 
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