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Partera Blog

GOOD TROUBLE: Why we occupied and shut down the Foreign Affairs Building

Mar 5, 2021

This story is an old story, of a growing military budget in Canada, escalated during the Harper years and continuing with Trudeau. This story is one example of prioritising jobs at General Dynamics over the lives of human beings now living in the direst humanitarian disaster on the planet. And we have contributed to that.

Dateline: Ottawa, CANSEC 2016: These sorts of things take some planning: who has what experience that can be deployed in this situation? who is going out to the arms bazaar itself at the CFB airport? who is willing to risk this action? who of us is willing to be arrested?

While some of us were decoys with a plausible story to present at the front desk of the Lester B. Pearson Building in Ottawa and documenters of the action—others came in behind us, a large banner folded inside a briefcase. They were greeted with suspicion and made as if to leave, making their way instead over to a waiting area in the Foreign Affairs lobby. They then unfurled our message: NO MORE ARMS DEALS—aimed at Canada’s deadly co-operation with Saudi Arabia in its destruction of Yemen and its people.

My role was to document, film the action and responses to it from and visitors alike. Still in my role, I ‘interviewed’ them loudly. amplifying the message. The minister was out of the country but his staff came to talk to them while the RCMP sorted out the complicitous; the curious asked questions. Requests to move the action outside were refused.

David Milne (left), of the three arrested, was given an additional ticket for ‘creating a disturbance’. He shouted, no doubt; he vented our rage. Then he wept. To read David’s testimony in court some months later, please go here.


Cooking fatigue: Pandemic Blues, American style

Jan 23, 2021

Our local paper has a weekly section devoted to cuisine—that’s the classy word for food—and often reviews the plentiful restaurant scene in this city that’s a magnet for tourism. This week’s focus was captioned “No more dishes: 13 family-style meals ready for takeout.” The third paragraph in the article begins, “Some local restaurants have responded to cooking fatigue with carryout family meals.”

“Cooking fatigue” is a new thing? A pandemic burden? An onerous affliction imposed by the ruthless virus? An encumbrance prompting urgent prayer-petitions for relief from Heaven itself? Is this one of the causes of the Capitol coup? (“We’re-sick-and-tired-of-Big-Government-requiring-us-to-cook-all-our-meals!”) The first featured food establishment mentioned in the article notes that the cost of a meal for two is a mere $39. A veritable steal!


Audacity Enough…

Jan 14, 2021

Imagine this. The setting is a community hall in the Naperville neighbourhood of Chicago. Inside a long, rectangular room, forty people, half Muslim, half Christian, half women, half men, are sitting in a circle. There are four facilitators, two Muslim, one a man, one a woman; two Christians, one a woman, one a man. The event is called, ‘So that we might understand one another’. By the mid-morning coffee break, one woman, a Christian convert to Islam tells us, ‘I’ve learned more in the first two hours than I have learned in nine months of Muslim-Christian-Jewish dialogue.’

The training is edgy, to say the least. As everyone seats themselves around the circle for the first time, I call  over to Rabia, founder of the Muslim Peace Fellowship:

‘Rabia! I can’t wait to baptise you; take you down to the river…’
By which time Rabia has interrupted me with her own: ‘Oh, LeeAnn! Someday you and I will go on the hajj together, walking the Kaaba seven times…’
And I continue with unrestrained enthusiasm: ‘…and you will emerge from the water brand new!’
‘…we’ll throw stones at Jamrah al-Aqaba! It will be wonderful!


Consider this…

Dec 24, 2020

Partera International spent a month a year in Sudan and then South Sudan from 2005 and 2013, working in partnership with peacebuilding […]


Carta a soci@s hacedores de la paz

Jun 29, 2020

English appears in the next blog; Arabic on Facebook. De LeeAnn McKenna, Directora Ejecutiva, Partera Internacional. La carta que aparece a continuación […]