KAIROS aiming to continue social justice mandate
Editor: The organization, KAIROS, has been in the news a lot lately, after the controversy behind cuts to its government funding hit the headlines. The members of our local KAIROS group want to let people know what the group’s mandate is and what the CIDA funding was doing for our global partners in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
The Global Partnerships Program of Kairos works with more than 20 partner organizations, focusing on economic justice, ecological sustainability, human rights, and peace-building. Much work is concentrated in conflict zones, targeting the most impoverished and marginalized populations, reaching an estimated five million people.
KAIROS is the social justice arm of 11 faith-based groups in Canada with about 80 local chapters. KAIROS has enjoyed a good relationship with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for the 35 years of its existence (the original organization was founded in 1973). CIDA has consistently given KAIROS positive evaluations of its work to protect human rights and reduce poverty worldwide and, as it has now come to light, the 2009 funding proposal also met with approval by CIDA officials.
The new development of Minister Bev Oda taking responsibility for inserting a handwritten “not” into the approval statement is very troubling because the government’s line all along had been that Kairos’ proposal didn’t meet CIDA’s priorities. (our local group also was told this upon meeting with MP, David Anderson).
Left hanging in the air is the unanswered question of why the government would override CIDA’s approval, and refuse to support KAIROS’ longstanding work through international development dollars.
KAIROS Canada also supports education, research and advocacy projects, which provide important background information to our local groups. KAIROS members are ordinary Canadians, of faith and conscience, working together for extraordinary change.
The Swift Current KAIROS group started five years ago, with a focus on educating ourselves and others on current issues and taking action for justice. Our involvement in the community has included: participating in Enviroforum 2008 on the topic of “Re-Energize Ourselves”, campaigning to reduce the use of bottled water, starting a petition for the Living Sky Casino to be environmentally conscious in their use of exterior lighting, hosting a presentation on Dark Sky Preservation, standing against the UDP report’s promotion of nuclear development as a “Green” solution, hosting a KAIROS conference with Peter Prebble speaking on Renewable Energy Options for our province, meeting with civic government representatives to request the Environmental Advisory Board be renewed, and to discuss waste minimization plans for our city.
The current KAIROS campaign is focused on indigenous rights, and specifically looks at the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, of which Canada was one of four countries to refuse signing in 2007, and was the last hold-out until December 2010.
We are a small, committed group of people concerned with social justice and we welcome anyone who resonates with the issues listed above to join us in our efforts. For more information on KAIROS’ work, and updates on the progress of its current CIDA proposal, go to kairoscanada.org. If interested in participating locally, we meet on the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. at St. Olaf Church (main doors, in the upstairs area).
Joyce Olesen and Kathryn Scott - on behalf of
Kairos Swift Current