Governance-by-proxy in the DRC

Viewed from the inside, the twin projects of peacebuilding and development—and the efforts of those who devote their lives to them— appear as ways in which citizens of privileged nations can live morally in an increasingly globalized world. Global media, multinational commerce, a plethora of NGOs and aid organizations and easy travel mean that citizens of North America or Europe can quite easily have an impact on the lives of those living in the Global South. It follows logically, then, that the world’s privileged class (and especially, the Western, educated and comparatively wealthy individuals who make up the bulk of foreign aid workers) should do its best to make sure that that relationship is a healthy one. Given the enormous wealth disparity that exists between the haves and have-nots of the world, a “healthy relationship” can be simplistically and problematically construed to mean a relationship based on giving, in which the role of wealthy nations is to donate and the role of poor ones is to receive (and, presumably, to be grateful for the help). That is, at least, the attitude held by many citizens of the U.S., Canada and Europe. It is an attitude, moreover, that aid organizations—many of which are themselves dependent on donations for their continued existence—often do their best to foster and encourage.

The murky waters of development and security
In his 2001 book, Global Governance and the New Wars, veteran researcher Mark Duffield lays out a framework to challenge the “we give, you receive” narrative that has dominated perceptions of the humanitarian industry for so long. Duffield argues that since the end of the Cold War, Western governments have increasingly grown to conceptualize and portray “undeveloped” countries as sources of potential conflict and war. Development, then, has been increasingly reimagined—sometimes intentionally, sometimes accidentally—as governance-by-proxy, a means of encouraging or requiring aid recipients to adopt certain values or practices (often oriented towards “stability”) as a quid-pro-quo for any aid received (Duffield 8). Although these values or practices appear, at face value, constructive (taking the form of anti-corruption measures or governance reforms), the net effect, Duffield argues, is to nudge developing countries towards creating only those societies that are acceptable to donor governments. Non-governmental aid organizations often fall into the same trap.

Viewed from this angle, the humanitarian project becomes less about “healthy global relationships” than about a twenty-first-century continuation of the colonial project: the practice of wealthy countries reshaping poor ones according to their own wishes. The picture grows increasingly grim with the concerns voiced by a recent African Union study which estimated that, largely because of exploitation and tax evasion by foreign actors, African economies actually subsidize the rest of the world. The study’s authors estimated that the amount of money lost by Africa in this way was between three to ten times as high as the amount of development aid received in the same period (African Union 64). In this light, the relationship between Africa and the rest of the world is starkly exploitative: with one hand, the world economy extracts money from the African continent; with the other hand, it returns a portion of that money, while demanding societal reforms in return. Granted, donor governments may impose reforms and conditions on African governments receiving assistance with beneficial intentions. Yet these good intentions do not remove the objectionable nature of donor governments feeling entitled to impose internal change on African countries. Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete recently stated that “It is unacceptable for our development partners to use their aid stick to pressure us to do certain things… We will reach a point where we will say this is too degrading… Keep your aid” (cited in Ng’wanakilala).

The Congo example
In the eastern provinces of the DRC, the dynamics described above are clearly visible. International actors—the United Nations, the European Union and dozens upon dozens of NGOs—are everywhere, involved in security and governance reform, infrastructure improvement, provision of social services and more. Many, if not most, of the functions of the public and nonprofit sectors have been assumed by international actors. The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO) assumes some of the duties normally filled by the police and army (including a “peace enforcement” division of peacekeepers called the Force Intervention Brigade, the first ever UN peacekeeping unit legally allowed to carry out offensive combat missions in support of UN goals). The European Union finances road and water pipeline construction. Schools and hospitals receive support from a raft of international NGOs.

Given the trend of humanitarian organizations towards working with local partners, the majority of Congolese civil society and nonprofit organizations receive at least some foreign assistance, meaning that local organizations are encouraged to align themselves with Western values in the hopes of receiving funding. Although some funding organizations take it as a priority to support the values and perspectives of local partners, such is not always the case. Many donors adopt a top-down perspective, with local “implementing partners” expected to follow the lead of the donors with which they work.

More troubling still, from an anti-imperialist perspective, were certain aspects of the United Nations’ actions following Congo’s civil war from 1998 to 2002. In the transitional period that followed the negotiated end of the war, UN delegates wrote portions of the constitution and threatened to withhold aid if the final document was not deemed “acceptable” (Autesserre 2010). Meanwhile, the DRC’s rich mineral deposits, combined with continued instability and the relative ease of smuggling goods and resources in and out of the country, make the country a prime target for private-sector exploitation. The majority of the profits from the sale of the DRC’s minerals wind up outside of the country. The African Union’s report named the DRC as one of the nations most vulnerable to revenue loss from illegal financial flows (African Union 16).
Moving forward Though many of the reforms and changes encouraged by international agencies and foreign governments are intended to be constructive, the system as a whole has the effect of removing agency and control from Congolese actors and placing them in the hands of decision-makers in Europe or North America. Are other forms of international engagement in the DRC possible that do not diminish Congolese agency? The humanitarian goal of living in a healthy relationship with the rest of the world is still a noble one, I would argue, so long as that goal is pursued in a constructive way. The systemic privilege of Western nations is an established, though unfortunate, reality—but the simplified relationship of “we give, you receive” espoused by many aid organizations does more to reinforce that privilege than to deconstruct it. What is needed, then, is the forging of truly mutual relationships between international actors and Congolese (and other African) governments and civil society organizations that increase the capacity for self-determination and local agency and decrease the pernicious presence of neo-colonial interventionism that still shapes much of the West’s engagement with Africa. Heeding the advice of the African Union and taking steps to limit illicit financial flows out of Africa would be a good start.

Patrick Maxwell is MCC’s Eastern Congo Peacebuilding Coordinator.

For more, check out the Summer issue of Intersections on Conflict, Reconciliation and Partnership in Africa’s Great Lakes Region. 

The migration of Congolese workers to foreign organizations

In the province of South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo a multitude of local organizations operate in the humanitarian arena. Local agencies across South Kivu work to improve education, health, agriculture and economic outcomes, advocate for human rights and child protection, promote governance reform and more. Alongside these local organizations operate numerous international organizations that do similar work in comparable fields. This similarity is not without consequence. In this article I examine the consequences of a “brain drain” from local, Congolese organizations to international organizations. The DRC, I would argue, offers a telling case study of the broader global phenomenon of the challenge local civil society organizations face in retaining qualified staff attracted by higher pay and perceived career opportunities with international organizations.

The Congolese nonprofit/voluntary sector is a world of cooperation, one in which local associations collaborate with international organizations in project implementation, training sessions, workshops and so on. However, aside from this “horizontal,” or collaborative, relationship, there exists what might be called a “vertical” relationship. In the vertical  relationship, one side (normally, the international side) has the most access to donors, while the other side (Congolese organizations) is generally the recipient of technical and financial support. This vertical partnership is difficult to navigate: both parties seek to further their respective missions through this vertical relationship and neither party wishes to harm the other, yet unintended consequences can and do result.

Through these vertical partnerships, and the interactions resulting from them, staff members from Congolese associations familiarize themselves with international organizations and vice versa. As familiarity develops, the staff members from each organization learn to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of the other. At their best, these partnerships include mutual learning between Congolese and international organizations. However, in time, highly qualified and skilled staff of Congolese organizations become coveted by international organizations who can offer much more attractive employment contracts. This dynamic contributes to a noted “brain drain,” in which the most qualified workers from Congolese organizations migrate to international organizations to the detriment of local initiatives.

Because of legal restrictions, Congolese nonprofit associations do not receive state subsidies and are barred from engaging in for-profit activities. With local fundraising options within the DRC fairly limited, Congolese organizations must finance themselves through grants from external donors. Often, the funding they receive through these channels is insufficient for the activities that they wish to undertake. Local associations thus work with limited funds and, it follows, can only pay their staff according to the amount they obtain from donor organizations.

The structure of funding short-term projects can operate to the detriment of Congolese organizations. Often when a local association has finished executing a project, it must wait for further projects to be approved before more funding arrives. Between sending a project plan to a donor and the eventual receipt of funds for an approved project, associations can sometimes be forced to reduce the number of staff in their employ. Congolese organizations can and do seek to protect themselves against this danger by diversifying the number of grants they receive, yet funding core operational costs in order to provide employment continuity for key staff is a significant challenge for these organizations.

Beyond the international development agencies of particular countries (e.g. USAID from the U.S., DFID from the United Kingdom), one can identify two broad types of foreign organizations active in eastern Congo: first, intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), or associations of states bound by treaty to fulfill certain functions of common interest, with permanent structures and legal personalities distinct from that of their member states; and second, international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs), who receive funding from private and governmental donors. The best examples of IGOs are various United Nations agencies, such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Food Program (WFP). IGOs are created by states for the purpose of achieving specific goals and therefore benefit from ample budgets (at least in comparison to Congolese organizations). INGOs, meanwhile, have typically developed diverse, multifaceted funding streams (even as they also have to compete for funding from governmental and other donors) and so do not usually experience the lack of funding that local organizations regularly suffer.

Often IGOs and INGOs provide financial support to Congolese organizations. So, for example, the Human Rights section of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO) provides grant support to the projects of several Congolese human rights associations.  In comparison to the staff of Congolese organizations whose projects they fund, IGO and INGO employees enjoy a raft of benefits, including (in some cases) diplomatic immunity, optimum living conditions and very high salaries. Not surprisingly, ambitious, qualified and motivated staff of Congolese organizations find it hard to resist the advantages offered by employment with IGOs and INGOs. But it is also no secret that INGOs and IGOs have limited mandates: their missions are not, at least in principle, open-ended.

This stands in stark contrast to Congolese organizations whose missions endure long after international organizations have pulled out. Unfortunately, though, these local organizations lack sufficient operating resources and so often lose their most skilled workers to the hefty salaries offered by international organizations. Congolese employed by foreign organizations are, for the most part, highly qualified and experienced.

Yet while these workers gained their extensive experience in Congolese agencies, international organizations rather than Congolese organizations benefit most from that experience.

To be sure, the “brain drain” effect is not limited to a shift of workers within a country. Often, skilled Congolese workers are transferred within international organizations to other countries, thus contributing to a flight of skilled workers from Congo.

In sum, the migration of workers from local organizations to international organizations is caused by:

• Lack of stable and sufficient funding for Congolese organizations, resulting in low salaries and job insecurity for the staff of those organizations.
• The constant search by international organizations for highly qualified and experienced Congolese staff.
• The various benefits of employment with an international organization, which cannot be matched by poorly-funded Congolese organizations.

The migration of skilled staff from Congolese organizations to international organizations has adverse consequences for the strength of Congolese civil society. The departure of qualified personnel can lead to reduced productivity. Irregularities in funding cycles often result in waves of workers leaving their organizations, and local agencies in turn often do not have the ability to hire new people. The reputations of local organizations also suffer, as waves of departures of qualified personnel discredit those organizations in the eyes of their donors.

How to address the negative impact of the migration of Congolese staff from local to international organizations? I would argue that the responsibility for this problem is shared among the IGOs and INGOs in Congo, with their policies related to funding for local, Congolese organizations bearing most of the blame. When the level of international donor funding does not allow for Congolese organizations to compensate their employees at a level that will convince them to stay with Congolese organizations, then IGOs and INGOs are, wittingly or unwittingly, contributing to brain drain. Given that Congolese organizations often do better work than their international counterparts (and have permanent mandates, instead of the limited mandates of many international organizations), donor governments and international agencies should search out opportunities to heighten their support for Congolese organizations in their missions.

Raphael Wakenge Ngimbi has worked in the field of human rights (where he specializes in transitional justice) for the past twenty years. He currently works at the Congolese Initiative for Justice and Peace.

For more, check out the Summer issue of Intersections on Conflict, Reconciliation and Partnership in Africa’s Great Lakes Region. 

The church and peacebuilding in the African Great Lakes

In many corners of the globe, the church as a cultural and spiritual reality brings people together to love and respect the Lord. Many people, however, believe that the only valid societal role for the church is to preach the good news of our salvation in Jesus Christ. But in Africa in general, and in the Great Lakes region in particular, the church’s mandate goes much farther than this spiritual proclamation, to include active commitment to foster peace in societies divided by violent conflict.

In places where people are torn apart by conflict or where people are divided by diverse interests, the church often remains one of the very few institutions still capable of unifying people, of connecting them, and of bringing them together to speak the same language, the language of peace. To be sure, the church is scarred by divisions among denominations and too often the church reflects rather than overcomes divisions within the
broader society. Yet at its best the church reminds people to forget the factors that divide them, since within the church we are reminded that we are in the presence of the One who created all, God Almighty.

In this article I explore the following questions: “Why does the church have this capacity to unify people and then bring them to forget that which divides them? What accounts for this capacity the church possesses of being able to work effectively for peace?” In trying to answer these questions, I attempt to show that in the Congolese context the church is capable of going farther and doing more to promote peace when compared to other actors.

The church constitutes a respected power in the Great Lakes region of Africa, a region in which the majority of the population is Christian. The church’s social status thus poises it to engage in the work of building unity and social cohesion. The church’s ability to unify people across political divides is clearly evident in the case of the Great Lakes region. Diplomatic relations among countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda have been torn apart because of invasions and rebellions. For example, over the past several years political conflicts and mutual recriminations between the leaders of the DRC and Rwanda have jeopardized good relations between the populations of these two countries.

While tensions have flared among the countries of the Great Lakes region, sometimes erupting into violent conflict, the leaders of churches in the region have played a large role in laying the groundwork for the re-establishment of peace and peaceful cohabitation among the peoples of the region. Several ecumenical Christian organizations in the Great Lakes have assisted these efforts for peace, including the Great Lakes Ecumenical forum (GLEF), the Great Lakes Initiative (GLI), the Fellowship of Christian Councils of the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) and the All Africa Council of Churches (AACC). These organizations frequently bring together church leaders from across political divides, despite the lack of understanding among their different governments, with the purpose of learning from one another and of searching together for peaceful ways to change how political leaders view the world and to help them speak the language of peace.

Matthew 5:9 tells us: “Happy are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Scripture passages like this one have helped the divided populations of the Great Lakes to no longer consider themselves as primarily or exclusively citizens of different states, with their identities tied up in the conflicts among those states, but instead to view themselves as men and women created in the image of God, persons having the same identity, namely, that of children of God.

What is it about the church that allows it to bring people together in this way, engaging in the uncertain field of peacebuilding, when the states they come from are in open war? As already noted above, church members compose a great majority of the population of the concerned Great Lakes countries. Persons in positions of authority and influence in the church, then, possess a power that regional political leaders cannot ignore. The political authorities of the Great Lakes are, in fact, forced to rely on the church if they want to keep their political power. When a crisis situation strikes a country, that country’s population often looks to the church for guidance. The word of the church in these situations, in my experience, is heeded by an overwhelming majority of the faithful, with many following the church’s guidance over their own political leanings, thus demonstrating the unifying power the church possesses.

The church receives this enviable power from the high regard in which it is held by the community and from the number of people who consider the church to be their last remedy, especially in moments of crisis and difficulty. The moral strength of the church comes from the word of God and the good news that the church preaches, but in moments of conflict the church’s moral power can be transformed into a benevolent political influence as well. Thus, at its best the church is considered neutral, a space where people can come to put down their burdens, even their political burdens, within a structure that brings people together.

The neutrality of the church is justified, not only by the behavior of its leaders, but above all by its prophetic mission, namely, the sharing of Christ’s gospel with the goal of transforming humanity. In their role as influential regional figures, church leaders distinguish themselves by their engagement for peace and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, to the point where even politicians must listen to them when the country goes through difficult times. At their best, church leaders work by the power of the Holy Spirit and fight for the well-being of the population in general. At this time in the Great Lakes region many church bodies are responding to the devastations wrought by human rights violations, among them sexual violence as an instrument of war. For example, the Church of Christ in Congo (ECC), through its Program for Peace and Reconciliation (PPR), is actively involved in the cause of peacebuilding. As part of the PPR, the ECC operates a biblically-based outreach program to disarm combatants in eastern Congo. This initiative has led to the voluntary disarmament and repatriation of more than 21,000 Rwandan refugees and 1,600 excombatants as part of efforts to promote peace in eastern Congo and in the Great Lakes region as a whole.The PPR shows the power of the church to intervene in a non-polarizing way in situations of intense conflict. Given the splits and divisions that characterize the African Great Lakes region, the unifying power of the church is needed more now than ever before.

Serge Lungele is Program Officer and Logistician for the Program for Peace and Reconciliation of the Church of Christ in Congo, an MCC partner organization that facilitates the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan refugees and combatants in the eastern DRC.

For more, check out the Summer issue of Intersections on Conflict, Reconciliation and Partnership in Africa’s Great Lakes Region. 

Conflict, reconciliation and partnership in Africa’s Great Lakes region

The Great Lakes region of central Africa—the countries grouped around Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika—showcases both the very best and the very worst of humanity. The region has seen its fair share of war and conflict: the 1994 Rwandan genocide, a twenty-year ongoing legacy of conflict and war in eastern Congo and a prolonged civil war in Burundi (a country where, just weeks ago, political tensions broke out again after ten years of peace) have all left their marks on the bodies and psyches of the peoples in the region. At the same time, the Great Lakes region is home to a vast and ever-growing community of peacebuilders, researchers, teachers, civil society actors and citizen activists who strive to re-establish and maintain peace.

The past and current conflicts of the region are nothing if not interconnected, both to each other and to the wider world. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda emerged from the same ethnic tensions (created and fostered by the colonial powers) that fueled the Burundian civil war. The conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi caused the displacement of refugees (and rebel groups) into Congo. International organizations and actors are omnipresent (although not with uniformly positive results). Through all of these events, the ugly specter of colonialism makes its enduring presence felt across the entire Great Lakes region.

Local dynamics often have regional and international causes: in eastern Congo, for example, a mine worker’s livelihood can be affected by the local military commander, by merchants in neighboring countries or by legislation enacted in the United States. In the Great Lakes, as elsewhere, following one single thread often leads to the discovery of a rich and varied tapestry of causes, effects, solutions and consequences, all tied into
one another, each one impossible to consider on its own.

True understanding is an act of compassion and the root of real peace. In this issue of Intersections, a team of authors from the Great Lakes region, along with MCC workers, present several windows into the dynamics that shape the region as a whole. While their articles do not present definitive solutions to the challenges facing the Great Lakes countries, the authors do highlight several key dimensions of the quest for durable peacebuilding and sustainable development in the region, including: the vital role played by
the church in durable peacebuilding efforts; the importance of supporting the efforts of local organizations; the pressing need to address the economic and human security devastation created by militias in the DRC; and the promise of grassroots peace initiatives in Burundi and Rwanda.

Patrick Maxwell is MCC’s Eastern Congo Peacebuilding Coordinator

Learn more by reading the summer edition of Intersections here.

Power and partnership: responding to crises in Attawapiskat

The theory of community-based disaster management, which highlights the importance of community empowerment and the active participation of disaster-affected peoples in decisions around mitigation and response, is a welcome conceptual shift from previous theories that framed communities as passive victims who lack the capacity to assist themselves. In bringing the community to the fore, however, there is a risk that the focus sidelines the issues of partnership and power, two critical determinants of a community’s ability to manage a disaster event. Just as no person is an island, all communities rely on a host of external actors for support in determining what response options are possible and for acquiring the necessary resources to implement those plans. These actors fall along a rather broad continuum that includes informal social networks, civil society organizations and formal government institutions. Simply put: communities with strong partnerships are better positioned to manage a crisis than those who attempt to do so on their own. But when the partner (e.g., a government agency) controls the resources that affected communities need, the ability of those communities to chart their own course is significantly diminished, as decision making power is largely left in the hands of others.

For all communities in Canada, government is one of the most crucial partners in disaster management. In the majority of these communities, local municipalities have the primary responsibility (in coordination with the provincial government) of managing the prevention of, preparedness for and response to disasters and emergencies that affect them, be they fires, floods, snowstorms or other humanitarian crises. The municipal governments and/or provinces and territories are also responsible for a vast network of infrastructure that is critical to the functioning and resiliency of these communities. A notable exception to this partnership model exists in First Nations communities, where the federal government has assumed responsibility for providing emergency management support, and holds all fiduciary responsibility. Moreover, under the Indian Act—a statute which governs the relationship between the Canadian state and registered First Nations peoples—responsibility for infrastructure falls to the federal government. It is a distinctive arrangement, characterized by an extreme asymmetry of power, and one which poses considerable challenges for First Nations communities seeking to mobilize in the face of seasonal disaster risks and ongoing crises. A look into the case of the Attawapiskat First Nation highlights these challenges.

Like many isolated communities in northern Canada, the Attawapiskat First Nation has found itself increasingly threatened by a variety of natural and human-made hazards that pose a serious risk to the community’s existence: on more than one occasion, the community has seriously discussed the possibility of resettling elsewhere. While climatic hazards, such as flooding during the spring ice break-up, are nothing new for this community situated along the Attawapiskat River only a few kilometers inland from the coast of the James Bay, changing weather patterns have significantly reduced the predictability and scale of this annual event, thereby heightening the community’s vulnerability to these floodwaters. In the face of this increased risk of flooding Attawapiskat has declared a state of emergency in three separate years since 2008, each time resulting in the evacuation of a significant proportion of the approximately 1,900 persons living on the reserve at great financial and social cost.

Current plans for extensive mining in the lucrative “Ring of Fire”— Ontario’s largest mineral reserve located upstream from Attawapiskat— pose an uncertain and potentially grave risk to the life and livelihoods of First Nations in the region, who are justifiably alarmed by the potential contamination of their water systems. For Attawapiskat, this would not be the first time they were affected by a human-made disaster related to resource extraction. In 1979, 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel—to date, the largest petroleum spill in Northern Ontario—leaked under the community’s elementary school. Despite repeated efforts by Chiefs and band council members to call attention to the ongoing health problems suffered by students and teachers, the school only closed in 2001.

In addition to these discrete disaster events, a more chronic humanitarian crisis emerges from Attawapiskat’s inadequate and substandard infrastructure, particularly its subpar housing and water treatment facilities. At present 124 families in Attawapiskat lack adequate housing, and substantially more have no access to treated drinking water. These families live in 24’ x 36’ bungalows sheltering 18 to 24 people sharing one bathroom and one kitchen. These specifications fall considerably below minimum shelter and sanitation standards recognized and observed by countless humanitarian organizations, including Mennonite Central Committee. Though this crisis was brought to light in 2011, when Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike to demand a federal response made international news, it has been an ever-present issue for decades.

Despite the urgency and protracted nature of these crises, little progress has been made to address them in a comprehensive manner. In fact, the increasing rate of population growth in the community only exacerbates its vulnerability, as additional demands are put on infrastructure that is already inadequate. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that the community of Attawapiskat has not explored its own solutions to bring about change. In response to the annual flood risk, for example, the community seriously investigated several options, ranging from the construction of major dyke infrastructure to the seasonal migration of the community back to traditional spring camps. The government, however, had its own solution: evacuation and temporary resettlement. Another example of the Attawapiskat community organizing to mitigate its vulnerabilities to disaster occurred when, as a way of addressing inadequate housing and the exorbitant costs of building material, the Chief Assembly passed a resolution to establish a regional saw mill that would allow multiple communities in the area to access local natural resources at considerably lower prices than imported materials. The government, sadly, had its own flawed solution: woefully inadequate “temporary” shelters, which have since turned into subpar permanent housing.

There are many reasons why alternative solutions to the deficient answers provided by the Canadian government to the challenges facing Attawapiskat have not materialized and not all of them are external sources. That said, there are substantial obstacles within the
current partnership between the federal government and First Nations communities that make it very difficult to achieve permanent solutions to the vulnerabilities First Nations communities like Attawapiskat have to disasters. First, payments from the government are unpredictable and often ill-timed. For a community that is only accessible by air or by inter roads for the majority of the year, late transfers mean huge transportation costs that can render projects untenable. Second, the year-to-year allocation of funding by the government is insufficient to finance permanent solutions which require substantial up-front capital investments. This also makes long-term planning rather difficult. Finally, the fragmentation of the bureaucratic structure between various departments leads to temporary piecemeal solutions, when what is needed is a more holistic strategy that recognizes the multifaceted nature of these crises.

In exploring the challenge of a community-based response to crises within First Nations communities, the issues of partnership and power cannot be avoided. For the community of Attawapiskat to protect itself from hazards and ensure that each family has access to adequate housing and clean water, a serious commitment by the federal government to stand as an equal partner with Attawapiskat is required. This involves listening to the ideas of the community and taking seriously the concerns that have been raised with the current partnership model which disempowers First Nations communities who are best positioned to identify and implement measures to protect themselves.
Ignace Gull is the former Chief of Attawapiskat (1991-2001) and Grand Chief of the Mushkegowuk Tribal Council (2003/04). He is currently the President/Chair of the Specialized Solvent Abuse Treatment Center Board in Thunder Bay. Christopher Ewert is a Humanitarian Relief and Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Mennonite Central Committee.

Learn more by reading the fall issue of Intersections – Community-based disaster managment.

Legacies of colonialism

“The conversation in these pages about how to confront colonialism’s enduring legacies is not new. Nor is it old. As long as human beings perpetuate new ways of colonizing territories and peoples, this conversation must continue, however hard it might be.”

This issue of Intersections discusses the difficult topic of colonialism and its continuing impact on the identities of those most affected by colonization.

Please click on the link below to download Volume 2, Issue 1 of Intersections.

Legacies of colonialism Volume 2, Issue 1