How our country can make a global difference in 2019
By Craig and Marc Kielburger
New Year’s resolutions tend to be personal. We promise to get to bed earlier, put down our devices or shed that five pounds of holiday turkey and latkes. This year, we’re thinking bigger.
What if we could make a resolution for Canada?
If we could, these three issues would top our list. Here’s where our country (and each of us as individuals) can make a real impact in 2019.
In 2018, four years after the start of Yemen’s civil war, the conflict received more mainstream media attention. Now, we need action. More than 85,000 Yemeni children have died of starvation, and thousands more are at risk. Even where schools have survived bombings, most children skip class to scavenge, helping their families survive. Yemen faces a lost generation.
As 2018 drew to a close, there were talks of a ceasefire. Canada can play a part, ending weapon sales to the warring parties. We can also push our government to lobby peace-minded U.S. Congresspeople, and support them in urging their own government to push for peace, says Dr. Bessma Momani of the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
And, Canadians can donate to organizations like the World Food Program, UNICEF, and the International Rescue Committee, whose workers are risking their lives to bring aid to the people of Yemen.
We’ve seen some inspiring efforts on reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, including in schools, where Indigenous land is acknowledged and Indigenous history and culture are taught.
But since the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools issued its 94 calls to action in 2015, only seven have been fully realized. Canadians can get engaged through organizations like the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund, and Reconciliation Canada (a non-profit currently looking for volunteers).
The final report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is expected in April. It will undoubtedly make recommendations to prevent more tragedies like the death of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine after the system failed her. Our job in 2019 will be to hold politicians’ feet to the fire to take action on the recommendations.
Firing up social enterprise
Charities are the unsung heroes of our communities. Not only does the non-profit sector tackle critical social issues, it employs two million people, and generates 8.1 per cent of Canada’s GDP.
In a time of government funding cuts and dwindling public donations, non-profits are turning to social enterprise. These for-profit businesses have a mission to address social issues—and they can provide sustainable funding for charities. Although Canada has previously lagged behind other countries in supporting the social enterprise sector, we’re blazing a trail with the $755 million social finance fund announced by the federal government this past November.
We can support the growth of social enterprise by voting with our dollars. Arranging a party? Have your invites printed by Eva’s Print Shop, a nation-wide social enterprise which provides training and employment opportunities for vulnerable youth. Got a big home upgrade planned for this year? Start your project at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore.
So, Canada, how will you make a difference in 2019?