Photo Essay Climate-Conflict-Gender Tour

After months of planning, KAIROS and network welcomed its Women of Courage (WPS) partners from September 25 to October 6 with open arms and hearts. This was part of the long-anticipated Climate, Conflict, Gender: KAIROS Canada’s Women of Courage Visit 2023.  

Nine delegates from Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and the West Bank converged in Toronto for a week of sharing and celebration of their work in helping women survivors of war and conflict empower themselves to become active peacebuilders and land defenders. They then divided into smaller groups to present their vital work to the network, supporters, new friends and the government and Parliamentarians in Ottawa, Kelowna, Winnipeg, Montreal and Sydney.  

The partners are: Héritiers de la Justice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Organización Femenina Popular in Colombia, South Sudan Council of Churches, National Women’s Programme, and Wi’am: the Palestinian Conflict Transformation Centre in the West Bank.   

The following photo essay will give you a glimpse of their time in Canada. 


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The first stop on the Climate, Conflict, Gender tour was Toronto, where the partners shared experiences, strategies and outcomes to date of the six-year Women of Courage: Women, Peace and Security Program. It gave us a chance to reflect on and celebrate the significant achievements in in Colombia, the DRC, South Sudan, and the West Bank. 

During their time in Toronto, KAIROS and its partners delved into Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation journey, and past and present colonization. Indigenous Elder, Terry Swan (front row second from the left), started the tour in a good way with a smudge ceremony and circle, and provided a history of the impacts of colonization on Indigenous peoples including violence against Indigenous women in Canada.

Members of the KAIROS Blanket Exercise team led partners through a trilingual KBE which was a profound catalyst for sharing and reflections on the histories of colonization and genocide in Canada and in partners’ contexts.

We took time for a group photo after the KAIROS Blanket Exercise with orange shirts in recognition of National Indigenous day and blue Alliance shirts.

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While in Toronto, Hana Kare (Left) of Wi’am, and member of the Anglican Church in East Jerusalem, met with Archbishop Linda Nicholls who is the Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. The pair discussed the church’s advocacy for peace and justice in Palestine and Israel. 

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Hana, along with her Wi’am colleague, Tarek Al-Zoughbi and KAIROS’ Rachel Warden shared a heartfelt dinner with some of the Land Alliance members who led a march in Toronto calling on Premier Ford to end unwanted mining activity on their Territories. 

Partners participated in a workshop on the story of the Theory of Change of the program, led by consultant Denise Beaulieu, in which they shared the challenges, enablers and impacts of the work in their contexts with local peacebuilders. 

On September 28, KAIROS, the local networks and partners celebrated at the Centre for Social Innovation during a wonderful evening of music, speeches, and stories of courage. More than 75 people were in attendance, including Indigenous elder Judy Sackanay, the WPS delegates, KAIROS staff, KAIROS Steering committee members, donors and supporters. Indigenous Caterer, Nishdish, provided a delicious meal and chef Johl shared knowledge and stories of the ancestral origins of the dishes that were served. Supporters of KAIROS’ WPS program heard firsthand from partners about the impacts of their vital work in increasing the participation of women in peace processes and politics, working with allies, addressing climate change at a local level and supporting economic empowerment projects.  

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On September 29, the Bloordale United Church welcomed KAIROS Women of Courage 2023 delegates for an inspiring discussion titled, From where we are to Palestine.

The distinguished speakers for the event were WPS delegates Hana Kare and Tarek Al-Zoughbi from Wi’am along with the talented author of Her First Palestinian,  Saeed Teebi.  

The speakers engaged in a meaningful conversation and spoke with fresh perspectives on the topic of changing the Palestinian narrative. The event launched Great Lake St Lawrence KAIROS regional meeting  Decolonizing Hearts and Minds event which featured a Photo Exhibit entitled Dispossessed but Defiant (Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East). The following day was the National Reconciliation Day and WPS delegates spoke in workshop about the experience of colonization and reconciliation in their own contexts. Keep and eye out for the video coming soon! 


KAIROS Canada and representatives of its Women of Courage: WPS program spent the first few days in Ottawa lobbying and had very positive meetings with the WPS Ambassador, Members of Parliament, senators and Global Affairs Canada officials during the first few days in Ottawa.  

The delegates to Ottawa were: Chantal Bilulu (the Project Manager for the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) program at Héritiers de la Justice), Gloria Amparo (a longtime member of the leadership team of the Organización Femenina Popular), Juan Rachael Michael Roberto (the Advocacy Coordinator for South Sudan Council of Churches), and Tarek Al-Zoughbi (project and youth Coordinator at Wi’am). Accompanying them from KAIROS were Rachel Warden, Cheryl McNamara and Beth Lorimer. 

The message we brought to government and MPs in Ottawa was simple and strong. Canada’s investment in women-led grassroots organizations is paying off in the Global South! KAIROS’ Women of Courage partners provide life-changing support to thousands of women impacted by conflict that helps them empower themselves to lay foundations for lasting equitable peace with climate justice and economic empowerment Canada’s investment must continue to support and expand this work to include the emerging work on climate resiliency and economic empowerment. 

We give thanks to everyone with whom we met and their wonderful support teams. We were warmly welcomed by Jacqueline O’Neill, Canada’s ambassador for Women, Peace and Security.  MP Anita Vandenbeld   convened a space for other MPs to meet with the partners, including Iqra Khalid, Pam Damoff, Lindsay Mathyssen, and a representative from Garnett Genuis’ office. MP Vandenbeld also introduced us to Ahmed Hussen, the new Minister of International Development who was able to briefly join us after the meeting. We also met with MP Karen Vecchio and Senators Jaffer, Omidvar, McPhedran and Galvez.

WPS Delegates and staff participated in a two-hour tour of the Wabano Indigenous Centre for Excellence in Healthcare Services, generously led by Nathalie Lloyd, Director of Communications and Engagement.  Wabano is a beautiful wholistic healtcare centre, created by Indigenous people for Indigenous people. It is also space that tells the stories of history, memory and resilience of Indigenous people. Partners expressed appreciation and were inspired by the beauty, innovation and teachings throughout the tour.

On Oct 5 at the Christ Church Cathedral in Ottawa, the partners shared their contexts and stories of change within the WPS program in a public event which brought together an engaged group of people from the Ottawa network. The event is available for viewing. Visit: Climate, Conflict, Gender: KAIROS Canada’s Women of Courage Visit 2023 – Oct 5 Ottawa Event


The partners and staff of the western leg of the tour were warmly welcomed by KAIROS volunteers in Winnipeg and Kelowna/Vernon who connected them to local realities and communities. The delegates were Laura Serrano who coordinates historical memory developed by the House Museum of Memory

and Women’s Human Rights for the Organización Femenina Popular, and Hana Kare, a researcher, trainer and peace activist with Wi’am. Joining them were members of KAIROS’ staff: Silvia Vasquez-Olguin and Shannon Neufeldt 

Three Indigenous community representatives from Kenora – Yvonne Bearbull, Cathy Lindsay, and Tommy Keesick – drove to Winnipeg to accompany the delegates. The delegates moved at the pace of a wheelchair while listening to detailed stories of advocacy efforts over the decades. This helped the delegates slow down and truly appreciate connection, resilience, and persistence.  

The delegates were taken by the intimacy of a water ceremony by the river (the Forks of the Red and the Assiniboine Rivers), where they drank water from their hands “as we always did it” and were honoured by the gift of a tiny cooper water pail to wear around their necks, a reminder that we must always be water protectors, guided by the Indigenous women who have been protecting the waters for more generations than anyone can count. At Camp Marcedes, they joined the family and supporters of a missing, presumed murdered, Indigenous woman. They were welcomed around the fire, shared stories – including atrocities that others in the circle had experienced and the efforts to maintain peace and a level of unity when addressing oppression.

On October 2, a lively crowd joined Hana, Laura, Silvia, Cathy and Tommy for the Climate, Conflict, Gender: KAIROS Canada’s Women of Courage Visit – October 2 at Knox United Church. Prior to this event, the longstanding and robust Northwest Ontario and Manitoba Coordinating Committee prepared a meal and invited friends who had connections to Colombia or Palestine. The lively conversation continued as people arrived early for the panel in the same room. Everyone was invited to eat, and the warmth of that hospitality carried into the evening session, which included an energizing cross-section of supporters.

Another highlight was visiting the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg. Carin Crowe and Debby Dandy of North Western Ontario and Manitoba KAIROS the joined the delegates. “It was heartening to hear the enthusiasm of one of the curators as she spoke about honouring and including women when telling the stories of the gender-based violence they experienced,” said KAIROS’ Shannon Neufeldt who accompanied the tour. 

Representatives at MCC MB welcomed the delegates with a lunch and round table on Palestine, including three young professionals who have done internships there, an Independent Jewish Voices representative and more. 


In the Okanagan, Vernon host Sue Ghattas, marvelled at how Hana and Laura smoothly adjusted each presentation to the audience, genuinely engaging with each group. The final day was a true test of these skills as they moved – in the space of about four hours – from a church coffee hour with a group of seasoned activist women, to a college poly-sci class, to a public event where some were very knowledgeable about the issues and others were new to the conversation. In the closing circle of the final event, common words people took away were “solidarity,” “connection,” “gratitude,” and “hope.”  

The delegates enjoyed a true Okanagan picnic with some long time KAIROS supporters. 

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Laura – with Hana – points to the delegates’ event: Climate, Conflict, Gender 
KAIROS Canada’s Women of Courage Visit – October 5th at the Vernon Public Library.

The delegates and participants gathered for a group photo after the event at the Vernon Library. 


Delegates who traveled to Montreal and Sydney were Gérard Kwigwasa Nakahuga (the Executive Secretary of Héritiers de la Justice) and Proscovia Mungasa James (the National Women’s Program Coordinator with the South Sudan Council of Churches). Fr. James Oyet Latansio (the General Secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches) was part of the Montreal visit and joined the Ottawa delegates later that week. KAIROS staff who accompanied this leg of the tour were Barbara Mangwende, Director of Programs at KAIROS (who joined Father James to Ottawa), Rick Garland and Nathalie Boyer.

In Montreal, delegates met with Roncalli International to discuss their process for distributing grants and the possibilities of working together in the future. From Left to right: Robert Nantchouang, International Projects Officer; Nathalie, Rick, Marilena Bioli, Director, International Programs; Gérard, Federica Gino, International Projects Officer; Proscovia, Fr. James and Barbara.  

Later that day, they met with Fr. Jacques Nzumbu Mwanga, a Jesuit priest from the DRC. Fr. Jacques then joined the group for the public event at the Motherhouse of the Congregation Notre-Dame (CND).

Father James, accompanied by Proscovia, speaks at the event in Montreal on October 2. 

The bilingual event was attended by approximately 40 people. 

Front Row – Gérard, Fr. James, David Millar, Steering Committee member and emcee for the evening, Proscovia, Sr. Maura McGrath, a member of the Canadian Religious Conference and host of the Montreal leg, Nathalie and Rick. Back Row – Participant, Louise Royer, Social Pastoral coordinator at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, Fr. Jaques, Phillippe Lafortune, Development and Peace regional coordinator, and designer of the agenda in Montreal.

On Tuesday, the group enjoyed a Lunch & Learn with the Development and Peace – Caritas Canada Team, including Stephane Vinhas, International Program Director, Shelley Davidson, Finance Director and Helene Gobeil, Communication Director. The group then proceeded to the Montreal Botanical Garden to view the exhibit Introduction to the Indigenous peoples of Quebec. Later on, the group went out for supper in Old Montreal, before ending the day.

Proscovia, Mgr. Christian Lépine, Gérald, Fr. James. 

The next morning, they participated in mass at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral. Fr. James concelebrated with the archbishop Christian Lépine, who prepared a homily based on the Women of Courage tour. 


In Sidney, some of the highlights included meeting with the Cow Bay environmental coalition, which opposed the coal mine in Donkin, followed by a meeting with New Dawn, a non-profit, private, volunteer-directed social enterprise dedicated to community building.

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Afterwards, Proscovia, Rick and Rev. Emily Duggan were interviewed on CBC Cape Breton’s Main Street radio program in English. Gérard was interviewed by the French station. The delegates also met with the Mayor of Sydney, and spoke about the dynamics of being a woman in public service in Cape Breton as compared to South Sudan.

The delegates also presented to a class at Cape Breton University. 

The delegates led a public event at St. Margaret Bourgeois church, with 35 people in attendance, including Connie Sorio, former Migrant Rights Coordinator at KAIROS. She spoke to the creation and goals of a project, which she helped design. This event was live streamed to the St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Parish Facebook page.  

The delegates were humbled by the reception they received, the engagement in their discussions and the sincere desire to create change in a world that desperately needs change-agents. Their tour concluded with a visit to Potlotek/Chapel Island First Nation, which was opening its first health centre. 

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Filed in: Gender Justice/Women of Courage, WPS

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