Association of Ontario Health Centres 2013: Working Better Together!
Ya Had to be There!
I imagine there are lots of good conferences on health care going on around this province – but it is difficult to imagine one that does such a remarkable job of mixing humour and gravitas, camaraderie and barb-exchanges, affirmation and challenge, national and local, history and future-driving cutting edge than this one.
The Association of Ontario Health Centres (AOHC) has done it again, putting Trish Hennessey (Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ [CCPA] ‘Income Inequality Project’) together (if on different days!) with Don Drummond (Ontario’s banker prophet of doom-without-austerity), Martha Chaves (Nicaraguan-Canadian comedian extraordinaria) with Susan Fitzpatrick (Assistant Deputy Minister [ADM] of Health and Long-Term Care [MOHLTC], responsible for staring down the Ontario Medical Association), Helen Angus (ADM for the government’s admittedly health equity-weak Health Links initiative) and Angela Robertson (the sector’s newest Executive Director at Central Toronto CHCs and Health Equity guru). Ya had to be there.
Read about BPFNA-PI's first annual Training of Trainers in Conflict Transformation here.
‘I have no doubt that I leave here a changed person and that this training will be a part of me and be used for the rest of my life.’
Welcome to Partera.
It means midwife, in Spanish. But there are no babies delivered here. Other things, however. Change. Solutions and resolutions. Plans. Tools. Whether equipping for working well together, living well, planning your organisation's future directions or intervening for the purpose of building and creating peaceful societies, the methods employed by Partera assume the wisdom and inherent strength of the participants in any process towards change.
And it’s an apt image for a kind of education – or training or facilitation or planning or intervention – that assumes that participants are not empty vessels but human beings pregnant with your own futures.
So, come on in. Partera is part of a global network of trainers and facilitators with a wealth of experience and expertise. Visit our links, browse through the articles and gallery. Read and comment on our blog posts. Participate in the work as a contract partner, a donor, an intern or contributing writer.
Partera brings more than twenty years of experience in facilitation, training, mediation, strategic planning and third-party non-violent intervention in a host of situations around the world on four continents.
See About for more details. For further information, be in touch:
What You Honour Tonight
In November of 2010, Lee McKenna was awarded the YMCA Peace Medallion in recognition of her peacemaking work in war zones. Her acceptance speech provides a snapshot of her work. The script can be read here.
'Taking our fear for a walk'
Confronting Global Crises: A Non-violent Perspective
In November, 2011, Toronto was the site of a conference entitled 'Confronting Global Crises'. Lee McKenna presented the closing keynote address on the topic of the importance of critical consciousness - for both accurate analysis and fear-dismantling - in the confronting of multiple and overlapping global crises. The script can be read here.
Fundraising for Peace: Midwifing Change
In conversation at the recent launch of a new book called Warrior Nation, someone said to me, 'We can't beat it. It's not just war and conflict out there, over there; it's right here - and it's bigger than we are. It's not just the global brand; it's our brand. We ARE Warrior Nation.' Where is the political leadership calling for peace? The signs of hope appear diminished. The need for a new way to address conflict on our planet seems as large as our survival.
Yet, there is much to celebrate - and Partera is part of it. We are training people of all ages to analyse, organise and bring about non-violent change. They are training trainers who train more trainers, multiplying exponentially the message and methods of non-violent change. In Sudan, for example, over a period of eight years, we have trained a handful of trainers, perhaps 200; THEY have gone on to train over 25,000 people in almost 70 tribes in Sudan and South Sudan. In the last year, many of them have been on the streets of Khartoum, marching, demonstrating, calling for the end of the dictatorial and repressive regime of Omar al-Bashir.
And it builds on years of working with a long list of historical partners, ongoing sponsors, encouragers, supporters and donors. A comprehensive list can be found here.
What will Partera do with the funds raised?
These are some of the things we intend to do over the next two years – with your help.
- LEAD a month of trainings in peacemaking and conflict transformation in the Philippines with representatives from the Asia Pacific Baptist Peace Network (including Nagaland, northeast India, Thailand, Burma, Sir Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia), Muslim-Christian-indigenous conflict on the island of Mindanao and organising for social change, focussed on mining and human trafficking;
- EXPAND the Asia-Pacific work in trainings in Sri Lanka, Northeast India and Myanmar;
- CREATE a highly-trained team of trainers prepared to respond to requests for intervention, whether in war zones, classrooms, organisations, places of worship and gathering, workplaces;
- MULTIPLY exponentially the numbers of people trained in conflict transformation, non-violent direct action and educated in critical consciousness;
- REACH OUT to anyone who wants to figure out how to quit avoiding conflict and turn it into an opportunity for growth and self-understanding; anyone who wants to work more effectively, live more consciously, communicate more clearly, be a better facilitator, a better activist, a better teacher, leader, colleague, parent, friend – and have a lot of fun doing it.
I am grateful for Partera’s many partners and sponsors. We have been blessed by the ongoing support of and collaboration with organisations as diverse as the Toronto-based Wellesley Institute on training in health equity; the Sida-funded Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation, Diakonia, also Swedish-based, the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Netherlands-based Women’s Peacemaking Programme of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (on whose Regional Consultative Committee I serve) as well as my own home congregation, Woodbine Heights Baptist Church. Past partners have included Heritage Canada, the office of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Toronto’s Canadian Race Relations Foundation and Montreal’s Rights & Democracy, Playter Strategies, the Association of Ontario Health Centres and Mexico’s Servico Internacional por la paz.
And as gratifying as our institutional support has been, it has been bolstered by direct donations, grants, and contracts from private contributors, local in-country supporters and others equally committed to human welfare and the ongoing process of peace-making and peace-building.
These gifts seem to me testimony of the strength of this movement, each contribution, each action by each of us, not an isolated act, but a projection of our collective strength – sometimes symbolic, often vital, life-changing, and always effective.
Finding Ourselves at The Junction
When the YMCA honoured this work two years ago with their Peace Medallion, it prompted from me story-telling about people whose lives have been changed by the encounter – and, in me, a new vision. Where others saw this award as my accomplishment, I understood it instead as being your and their accomplishment – as truly, in a world where our instruments of state remain committed to war; it is left only to us to make the peace! Yet, receiving this medal was also a great gift for me personally, as it turned my attention back to you, showing me that the source of all power-full action resides in power-full organisations. And in that moment of realisation, Partera was born!
Partera International is nothing more than a platform for action. It is informed by the certainty that our success lies in a vision for peace, in partnership, training, critical consciousness and in the creation of an organisation whose mark will be the linkages it establishes and sustains between like-minded people of heart and action.
So What Does Partera Mean to You and Your Hunger for Peace?
In the last two years we have built parallel tracks of work - training and planning in the health-care sector in the province of Ontario and third-party non-violent intervention in zones of conflict - both drawing on the same toolbox of skills, self- and other-awareness, conflict transformation, mediation, non-violent communication and political, social and economic analysis.
We joined the trainers in Greece to prepare the passengers on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. We led Conflict Transformation Intensives in South Sudan, Mindanao, Panay and Negros (the Philippines). We did training with the locked-out Caterpillar workers of London, Ontario's Local 27 and their allies in Non-Violent Direct Action. We taught skills in Facilitation and Conflict De-escalation with the Toronto Occupy-ers, and worked with members of the homeless community of Toronto’s Sanctuary to create a piece of non-violent direct action street theatre - part of their struggle against police brutality. And we continue to provide Strategic Planning, Team Building and Health Equity services in agencies providing community-based health care.
As well, Lee has spoken about our work in forums such as the University of Toronto’s conference Confronting Global Crises and the Council of Canadians Annual International Day for Peace. Partera has undertaken a joint project with the Wellesley Institute in a health equity training project called 'Taking it to the Shop Floor'. In 2013, we return to Asia for work in building peace in the conflict zones of Northeast India, seeking peace in post-civil war Sri Lanka. As well, we are preparing to return to Chiapas in January of 2014 to assist in an exciting new training/action venture with young people awakening to their state and country's oppression and their power as agents of change. In North Carolina in May of this year, the first annual North American-wide training of trainers in non-violence and conflict transformation took place; thirteen people from Canada, the United States and Mexico have joined the planetary list of ambassadors for peace.
All along this route, there are opportunities for participation, whether as a donor or an intern or as a partiticpant in trainings. The Partera project is concerned about every aspect of our lives, internal/ individual, social, cultural, economic, environmental, national and international. We attempt to live into a vision of a peaceful world of conscious people and communities where generations can grow and thrive, where creation's resources are shared more equitably and conflicts are welcomed as opportunities for challenge and change - not war-making. Unrealistic? Perhaps. Let's try and turn the tide.
It can be done. I’ve experienced a growing certainty that Partera is not only a forum through which you and I can take action; but that every action we take together will resonate with multiplying and lasting consequences, empowering one another in our mutual liberation. Thank you for being a part of this journey!