June 2021 Update

June 2021 Update r1 ...

June @ SOVI

Image shows a graphic of a map of the world, with twelve raised fists in the foreground. The background is black and map and fists are white. FEATURE INTERVIEW

This June, we’re focusing on the work of individuals and organizations who operate both locally, and globally. The balance of this work is important to SOVI, as we strive to support and connect both local and international development efforts, and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. Our feature interview is a conversation between Communications Coordinator Julie Tierney and SOVI co-chair, Patrick Makokoro. Patrick is a social entrepreneur and educational researcher with extensive experience working in community and international development. He is a dedicated social justice activist and among other social entrepreneurship initiatives, he founded the Nhaka Foundation, ZINECDA and co-founded the Africa Early Childhood Network.

How did you develop your knowledge and experience in international development work, leading up to founding the Nhaka Foundation?

Growing up I always had an interest in helping communities, families, and individuals with their everyday problems. In my early career years, with no formal education or training in development work, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to volunteer at an orphanage in my home country Zimbabwe. It was through that experience that I had an epiphany on the real things that matter in life. As I spent time at this orphanage, I reconfigured my mindset and began to work within the development sector.

Through my work in providing support to orphans and vulnerable children I gained experience and rose through the ranks in different organizations, leading to an opportunity to work for an international development organization headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It was there that I began to ask myself, “How does this organization operate in other areas? How does it achieve its mission and how do local communities participate?” Answers to these questions and interaction with other staff built my understanding of how the international development sector works. Some professional frustrations at this organization led me to forming Nhaka Foundation in 2008, on the premise of supporting communities to be involved in the design and implementation of local level solutions to the challenges they faced.

You’ve had an extensive career in both local, and international nonprofit and charity work. Were you always focused on both local and international work, or did one inspire the other?

I have been privileged to work in both local and global contexts, and I can remember a turning point - or rather a learning point. It was a conversation with my immediate supervisor at the time that led to the international work. We were working on a local project in Zimbabwe, and I was struggling with one aspect we were implementing. In a team meeting I recommended that we should let the community come in and lead on a particular project because they had the Indigenous knowledge and skills to do it better than we would have done. He said, “No Patrick, we’re here to firefight, not to spend time in communities and develop solutions with them.” For me, that was a no. This was not an emergency program, communities did and do have the right to be involved and in many respects lead the efforts. The short story here is that I quit that job because I didn’t believe in that ideology or response.

My new mission was to tackle this narrative-- there is space to co-design solutions. I became an avid fan and practitioner of the Appreciative Inquiry philosophy by Prof. David Cooperrider. We should appreciate what local communities can, and have been doing for their own communities and their own children. We have to understand how these communities work, and co-create solutions and build up from a strength based perspective rather than deficit based modalities.

How has your perspective on international development transformed over the course of your career?

I’ve met and worked with hundreds of individuals committed to the work of ending human suffering and ensuring that people served are able to access food, healthcare, shelter and education amongst other needs. Through that, I’ve also learned it's not always rosy and easy in the development sector. I’ve been on this continuous path of learning and development. My experiences have really transformed how I see issues. I’ve learned that I have two ears for a reason, that I should provide space to listen and learn. As a development practitioner, I don't have all the solutions or answers. Prior to my experiences, I thought that as a development worker, you’re going into communities with a solution. You have a problem you’re going to fix. That’s not the case. It’s about working alongside people to co-develop and co-create solutions. We may have a template but it is always important to listen first and adapt the template to address the local needs.

What are the differences in your approach to international focused projects, compared to localized projects?

With any approach, you have to desire to learn what the local situation is and how communities have ended up where they are. It’s through understanding and appreciating the local context that you can apply the principles of development when focusing on international projects. There are lots of differences in developmental challenges. For example, I’ve seen programs in the Global North that serve amazing breakfast for young children coming from low income families. I’ve also seen programs in countries in the Global South where kids walk long distances early in the morning, through wild animal infested forests to go to school and then spend the day at the school without any meal. Dinner being the meal served, once a day! I’ve seen programs where communities build classrooms out of locally available materials, because that is what they have and on the other hand I’ve also walked into classrooms with infrastructure and air conditioning systems that are out of this world. The way one works in a community struggling to put up a classroom is different from how you would in a community with more available resources, because there are very different challenges that you have to address.

What skills and strategies do you think are applicable and important to working both locally and internationally?

For skills, I think it's being able to listen more and speak less to understand context, and also being empathetic because one is then able to “put themselves in the others shoes” as it were and begin to understand. In terms of strategies, I think what I would like to call the four Cs’ would suffice. This is community, context, culture and cooperation.

Community: it’s important to understand each community for who they are. Go in without preconceived ideas and notions and go in with the desire to learn.

Culture; no matter where you are, there are cultures and subcultures that exist. It’s important to have an awareness of these because it helps one to understand how the community lives and goes about day-to-day life.

Context; understand the contextual details to see how a community interacts with its culture. You appreciate things differently. Context influences community and culture.

Cooperation; you need to be able to create space where international and local actors are cooperating. Gone are the days for developing projects, then loading it on to people, or telling people you have the information they need.

In a nutshell, I think these strategies apply locally and globally wherever you are.


The SOVI Team is welcoming two new team members this month! Grace Ribeiro will take on the role of our Summer Programmer and help lead SOVI in developing events and content for the next few months. Grace is a student at University of Victoria studying Sociology and Applied Ethics, who has a drive for acquiring and facilitating knowledge wherever possible, while creating meaningful connections along the way.

Katrina Carlucci has joined the SOVI team as our Community Researcher, and will facilitate anti-racist, community driven research in new role. Katrina is a student at the University of British Columbia studying Music and Gender, Race, and Social Justice. She has a love for research, and is driven by her desire to be an anti-racist, good community member.


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There have been record breaking temperatures in BC this summer, as weather on Vancouver Island reaches “unseasonably warm” levels. The weather is causing power outages, snowmelts, and deaths in the province. This heatwave across the province is an urgent reminder of the threat of global climate change, and need to implement firm action on SDG #13: Climate Action. Across the globe, climate change has exacerbated the frequency of wildfires, droughts, hurricanes and floods. We are currently seeing the effects of this worldwide issue, locally. The extreme heat emphasizes the importance of protecting old-growth forests, which provide a cooling effect and safety from forest fires that threaten ecosystems due to climate change. Clearcut logging can lead to higher temperatures, flooding, and landslides, according to The Narwal. On Vancouver Island, activists continue to protest logging at old-growth forest locations in Fairy Creek, and continue to face aggression from local RCMP.

June was Indigenous History Month, and for many, an opportunity to honour and amplify the diverse cultures, traditions, and important contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. It is also time to address the colonization, racism and oppression Indigenous folks continue to face in Canada today, and historically. In the last month, there have been recoveries of several mass unmarked graves at formal residential “schools,” in Kamloops, BC at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, at the Brandon Indian Residential School in Manitoba, at the Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan and at the St. Eugene's Mission School in Cranbrook, BC. The gravesites have remains of over 1,000 people, mostly children. Non-Indigenous folks should educate themselves on the history of residential schools and the ongoing genocide of Indigenous people in Canada. Consider donating to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society, as well as other local organizations like Orange Shirt Society in BC. The fight for justice for Indigenous people is a global one: learn more about the World Indigenous Movement from the Center for World Indigenous Studies, and follow organizations like The Indigenous Peoples Rights International to support worldwide decolonization work.

June was also Pride Month, and Victoria Pride Week Festival wrapped up on July 4th. Luckily, a Post-Pride Festival will kick back up from July 14th to the 30th! In celebrating Pride and the accomplishments, resilience, and lives of LGBTQ+ folks, it's important to remember why we continue to need Pride today. Victoria Pride Society put together a list of resources outlining the challenges and discrimination LGBTQ+ folks continue to face, in BC, Canada, and globally. You can learn more about the value of LGBTQ+ representation in Canada here, and familiarize yourself with the global context of homophobia and discrimination, and the fight against it, here.


  • Social Restoration Group at Uplands Park | July and August | Friends of Uplands Park
    • As part of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), join a social restoration group to remove invasive plants while chatting and laughing with others.
    • Details here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CQ6Zm3ftFmO/
  • An Invitation to See Differently I July 6th I Sierra Club BC
    • In a time of ecosystem collapse, the destruction of the last remaining old-growth forests, and a global climate in crisis, the only question we should be asking is: Where do we start? Join kQwa’st’not ~ charlene george (artist, cultural voice with Sierra Club BC and member of the tSouk peoples) and Sierra Club BC Executive Director Hannah Askew for this timely conversation

    • Find details and register at https://sierraclub.bc.ca/an-invitation-to-see-differently-webinar/
  • Breaking Bread 2021 I Until July 7th I Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan
    • Check out our on-demand Breaking Bread program, with music, recipes, documentary film & more. Learn something new while helping to create learning opportunities for women& girls on Afghanistan!
    • For details and sign-up, visit: https://cw4wafghan.ca/buy-a-ticket/
  • BIPOC Athletes Experience I July 8th I SNIWWOC
    • Sports bring people together, by empowering and elevating communities. It also gives voice to the invisible, underserved and underrepresented. However, many BIPOC individuals do not see themselves in leadership and sports media. Learn how national and global representation of BIPOC athletes impact BIPOC participation in local and community sports at this town hall.
    • Details and registration, here: https://www.sniwwoc.ca/events/2021/7/8/bipoc-athletes-experience
  • Dr Bonnie Henry: Changemakers Speaker Series I July 13th I Royal Roads University

    • Dr. Henry’s daily briefings connected her to the people in BC and around the world. Her mantra of “be kind, be calm and be safe,” serves as a constant reminder that we’re all in this global crisis together. Join us live on Facebook for a talk with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry hosted by Royal Roads University President and Vice-Chancellor Philip Steenkamp.
    • Event details, here: https://fb.me/e/1AQVWdBnQ

    Localizing the SDGs: Where do Canadian Communities Stand? I July 13th I BCCIC
    • Canada is not immune to the inequities that have been harboured in a history of colonization, systemic racism, and ongoing discrimination. Many of the rules that govern society and too many of our social and economic policies reflect bias and discrimination (both conscious and unconscious), reinforcing the false premise that some people are better or more deserving than others. Join panelists in their presentations of their localization and Voluntary Local Review projects from Canadian communities.

    • Register for the event online here: https://www.bccic.ca/event/localizing-the-sdgs-where-do-canadian-communities-stand/


“Indigenous people: take care, non-Indigenous people: take action, everyone in-between — do both.”

-Emilee Gilpin, IndigiNews Managing Editor Facebook Twitter Link Website Copyright © 2021 BC Council for International Cooperation - South Van Isle Chapter, All rights reserved.
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SOVI is based on the stolen lands of the Lək̓ʷəŋən Peoples (known by the colonial name of Victoria, BC). To contact us directly, please write us at r34.

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