Peace and Displacement

Compiled by Rebekah Sears

“Everyone should to be able to either stay in their home community with safety and dignity or find a new home in our communities,” Brian Dyck, National Migration and Resettlement Program Coordinator, MCC Canada.

Every fall, MCC and many churches in Canada set aside time to reflect on peacebuilding. Next Monday, September 21st, is the UN International Day of Peace and later this fall, on November 8th, close to Remembrance Day, we observe Peace Sunday. This year MCC’s peace theme will be on supporting displaced people around the world, encouraging the church to always be a place of welcome. We want to invite you to join us!

In the last few months, we have seen great distress and struggle, but  we have also seen firsthand the generosity and care of churches. In the midst of global uncertainty, love for others remains strong. Here are some ways to share that care with the most vulnerable outside of Canada, including the over 80 million people forcibly displaced from their homes worldwide.

Here’s how you can get involved:

First, of course, is MCC Canada’s 2020 Peace Sunday Packet: A Refugee People: How the Church can Choose Welcome in the Face of Global Displacement, for reflection, resources and coming together in worship and action.

Cover, 2020 Peace Sunday Packet, MCC Canada

However, there is so much more. And most of these opportunities extend far beyond just this fall.

Remember & Reflect

Remember your own stories of displacement, and that of your families, communities, and ancestors, and let that inform and inspire advocacy today, for those who have been displaced. In last week’s blog, Brian Dyck reflects times when Mennonites and Anabaptists were not welcomed into Canada, remembering that we are a Refugee People. Brian ends with this call to action:

“As MCC celebrates our centennial and moves into our second century, it will be important to continue to remember these stories, including the stories of those who were not  welcomed, and continue to advocate for those who have been displaced.”

Share and Expand

Share these stories of migration with others, in your churches, communities, families, video chats and beyond. Plus, expand your own knowledge and that of your networks on this theme. Explore the root causes of forced displacement, and how to address them.

Why Do People Leave Home? Understanding the root causes of displacement and migration, MCC Resource, 2020

This month MCC released a new set of factsheets – Why do People Leave Home: Understanding the Root Causes of Displacement and Migration – filled with context analysis, stories and more. Such factors include environment and a changing climate, violence and conflict, lack of opportunities, and political instability.

Advocate

First, learn why advocacy is key to MCC’s work, including addressing forced displacement. Join the MCC Webinar on September 24, 2020, 12 pm Eastern Time to find out more:  Advocacy for Peace and Justice: Conversations from the field. Come hear stories of how advocacy can make a difference in the lives of marginalized and displaced peoples – from Latin America to Palestine and Israel.

It will also be live-streamed on Facebook, and if you can’t make it or missed it, find a recording on MCC’s website afterwards.

Next, take action!  Encourage the Canadian government to focus more efforts on addressing the root causes of forced displacement, and walking alongside the most vulnerable, in these trying times, and beyond. Here are two campaigns you can participate in right now:

  • Ask the Canadian government to invest more resources in grassroots and local peacebuilding, as one way to address the root causes of forced displacement. Send your letter here.
  • Thank the Canadian government for its global response to the Covid-19 crisis thus far, and ask that support for the most vulnerable, including those displaced or on the move, be a significant priority of Canada’s global response. Send your letter here.
MCC Ottawa

Pray

MCC’s 2020 Peace Sunday Packet is a great place to start for worship and prayer resources. Share these prayer requests with your family, friends and community and pray together for those who are on the move, for good opportunities, for safety, for healing from any trauma they’ve encountered in their journey while remembering the connections we share.

Practice Peacebuilding

The Peace Packet provides some resources for group gatherings, but what happens when we don’t agree? Engaging in challenging conversations can make us uncomfortable, but are also a space to practice peacebuilding skills, together. Originally written for use during election time, our Conversation Guide has some practical tips that can be used any time of year to help strengthen relationships and get to know one another better. When you are ready, take the next step of downloading our Advocacy Toolkit and planning some activities your faith community, family or small group can do together. By working together, our actions can change policies and also create more peaceful communities here in Canada.

Give

Donate your time or money to organizations like MCC who work to make migration a choice, not a last resort. MCC works to support local partners who are providing alternatives to migration, building peace, supporting people on their journeys, providing welcome and are most often among the first responders to those who have been displaced.

On International Peace Day, Peace Sunday, or any day, may we seek to build peace through the pursuit of justice, upholding the dignity of others and loving our neighbours, be they next door, across the world, living at home, or on the move.

Sign up for a series of emails with more information here.

Rebekah Sears is the Policy Analyst for MCC’s Ottawa Office. The resources highlighted in this blog post were written and compiled by many people across the MCC system

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