by Anna Vogt
We’re excited to announce that MCC Canada’s Ottawa Office is changing its name to the Peace & Justice Office as of May 1st.
Our new name signals a few changes. I’d like to walk you through some things that are different, including our expanded goals and directions.
But first, let me assure you that some things will always stay the same: MCC continues to be committed to sharing God’s love and compassion with all in the name of Christ and using advocacy as a tool in that work. The 45-year legacy of the Ottawa Office and work on Parliament Hill will continue.
So, what’s new?
1. Restructuring. Last year, COVID-19 pushed us to make some strategic decisions regarding programming. MCC Canada restructured our domestic work, helping ensure our core mission would remain strong in challenging times. We decided to combine programming by bringing national program staff together with Ottawa Office staff and create a mandate to strengthen MCC Canada’s advocacy work. Now the work of advocacy and public engagement of the Ottawa Office is joined with MCC Canada’s programs on Restorative Justice, Indigenous Neighbours, and Migration and Resettlement, along with programming in Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
2. Broader mandate. So why did we choose the name “Peace & Justice?” Our combined team has a broader mandate. It reads: “We work for policy and structural transformation towards a more peaceful and just world where all can participate in right relationships with God, one another, and creation. We centre our work on relationship building and we provide tools and resources for advocacy and social change, including direct engagement with policymakers, to support church and community flourishing.”
Our tag line is: “Anabaptist advocacy for peace, justice, and human dignity.”
3. Diverse geography. Our new team is now made up of staff from various locations across Canada, meaning we’re not just in Ottawa anymore. Parts of our broadened work do not involve the Canadian federal government. The new name fits both the geographic realities and the broadened mandate of this team.
A new name, new mandate and an expanded team. We’re excited to work together for peace, justice and human dignity for all.
And, as an Anabaptist organization, we realize this can only be achieved in partnership with communities and churches around the world. That means our advocacy work is guided by principles of nonviolence and grassroots change. It is rooted in our faith. We are non-partisan and seek to be accountable to MCC partners. We are encouraged by the work of the church for peace and justice around the world.
So, what kind of work will you be invited to do with us?
While everyone in MCC connects with peace and justice, the P&J Office specifically works towards the goals of peace and justice through working for policy and systemic changes needed to achieve peace and justice. Advocacy is one key tool that we use to achieve those goals, but not the only one. Education, church engagement, partner support and providing opportunities for direct involvement in creating change are all a part of this work.
We centre our work on relationships and what we hear and learn from MCC partners in Canada and around the world. This ensures that the changes we are working towards meet community needs and contribute to peace and justice.
Let me share an example of what that can look like in practice. MCC’s work on private refugee sponsorship in Canada has created a space where newcomers are welcomed as part of a Canadian tradition and identity. MCC’s advocacy for private sponsorship led the way to create this change. The community-based peace practice of hospitality, however, has also shaped Canada’s policy landscape. This has generated increased possibilities for advocacy around other migration-related concerns, including root causes of forced displacement.
Peace and justice work is also important inside MCC. Part of the role of the Peace & Justice Office is to lead MCC Canada’s internal dismantling oppression work. Through a consultation process over the last two years, this area of work has emerged as a priority for MCC to analyze and strengthen not only in our work with partners around the world but also inside MCC.
New names are exciting; they bring new energy and new possibilities. What do you think? We’d love to hear from you! Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also subscribe to our blog or newsletter for regular updates and ways of getting involved in our peace and justice work.
Anna Vogt is director of MCC Canada’s Peace & Justice Office
To learn more about MCC’s advocacy work and to find ways to get involved, visit our website here>.
Banner image caption: Spring flowers bloom in Ottawa, near the Parliament buildings in 2020. (MCC photo/Anna Vogt)