2014 Annual Report – National President and Chairperson of International Relations

Barbara Dowding
National President and Chairperson of International Relations
2014 Annual Report

The role of president is carried out at every level by competent and enthusiastic women. Where presidents are recycled, appointed or even taking turns, it is clear members valued the leadership from which the League mandate is carried out. Provincial presidents reported on the activities and projects undertaken or led by presidents at the diocesan and parish level. In every case, the reports exuded enthusiasm, vision, determination and leadership. Reports included highlights from standing committees as well as comments and suggestions for new ideas. Presidents were expected to communicate, encourage, lead, facilitate and foster relationships.

Most provincial councils met with their provincial government to present resolutions, engage in dialogue and raise awareness on issues of health, such as the availability and use of flavoured tobacco and electronic cigarettes, palliative care and physician assisted suicide.

Human trafficking and pornography continued to be issues that compelled members to respond by attending screenings of Red Light Green Light and sending Pornography Hurts postcards. Members across Canada banded together in the face of the Dying with Dignity Canada campaign as it attempted to advocate for physician assisted suicide. Members wrote letters, attended workshops and visited local governments to promote the dignity of all human life. Using resources from the Catholic Organization for Life and Family and Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, members educated themselves and their families.

Annual retreats and executive and planning meetings took place across the country for the purpose of long range planning, team building and theme development. Gift discernment workshops continued to be a source of inspiration as members helped one another recognize their unique talents.

One provincial council that experienced an increase in membership credited ongoing promotion of the League and effective membership drives for its success. Amalgamation of parish councils was a reality in some parts of the country. This difficult situation proved successful when members worked together for the good of the church and each other.

In support of Resolution 2013.01 Building Partnerships and Relationships with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples, one provincial council initiated discussions to form a partnership that raised over $8,000 to provide leadership opportunities for its aboriginal sisters. Another council held a workshop with a First Nations elder who spoke to them of the history of her people and the pertinent issues today, while yet another council assisted a group of First Nations women set up a second hand shop. Sr. Eva Solomon, CSJ, spoke at a convention on “Build Me a Church That Will Honour My Son” to which other First Nations people were invited. Across Canada members reached out to their First Nations’ sisters in prayer and fellowship. Imelda Perley, a Maliseet elder, presented at the 94th annual national convention in Fredericton.

Provincial presidents attended numerous anniversaries for parish councils’ significant milestones, including one 95th anniversary. Attendance at diocesan conventions ensured each province was united in purpose. Provincial presidents were the link that kept membership informed on issues of national importance and were, in turn, able to bring members’ concerns to the national executive. Several provincial councils, in realizing the advantage attendance at conventions afforded, provided incentives to help members attend both provincial and national conventions.

Letters on behalf of the League were written to the prime minister, minister of justice and attorney general, and all members of parliament after the national convention in August on Resolution 2014.01 Restoration of Health Care for Refugee Claimants, Resolution 2014.02 Electronic Cigarettes, Resolution 2014.03 Flavoured Tobacco Products Ban, Resolution 2014.04 National Standard for Newborn Screening Including Screening for Severe Combined Immuno-deficiency and Resolution 2014.05 Old Age Security Allowance for Individuals 60 to 64 Years of Age Regardless of Marital Status.

Of grave concern was the Supreme Court of Canada’s hearing of Carter v. Canada (Attorney General) which sought to strike down the law that criminalized physician-assisted suicide. In response, the national executive wrote to all members of parliament commending the government for continuing to defend the law and urging all members of parliament to promote an accessible national palliative care strategy so that no one facing the end of life would suffer needlessly. Further, the position paper on euthanasia was updated. These actions supported Resolution 2007.02 Hospice Palliative Care: An Integral Component of the Canadian Health Care System

A written response to the federal government’s request for public consultation on the issue of prostitution was prepared and submitted in March citing Resolution 2012.01 Criminalizing the Purchasing of Sexual Services and Resolution 2009.01 Exit Strategies for Prostituted Persons.

The national president or her designate represented the League at the following events:
• February 22 (Red Deer) – Day of Awareness on Human Trafficking, hosted by the City of Red Deer
• March 6 (Ottawa) – working lunch with Catholic community leaders on freedom of religion, human trafficking and refugees, hosted by the minister of foreign affairs
• March 20-21 (Quebec City) – Seminar on the Family, hosted by the Catholic Organization for Life and Family
• March 29 (Fredericton) – Legalizing Physician Assisted Suicide in Canada: Risks for Patients and Caregivers, hosted by the Christian Medical and Dental Society of Canada
• May 8 (Victoria) – Annual March for Life, hosted by the March for Life Joint Committee
• May 28-29 (Ottawa) – Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Summit, hosted by the prime minister
• June 29-July 10 (Palestine) – pilgrimage to Velma’s Dream projects, hosted by the Catholic Near East Welfare Association
• August 15-24 (Philippines) – delegation to the Philippines, hosted by the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
• September 12-14 (Quebec City) – Forum with Movements and Associations, hosted by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
• September 15-16 (Quebec City) – Annual Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
• Sept 24-27 (Grand Rapids, Michigan) – Annual Convention of the National Council of Catholic Women
• October 22-28 (Fatima, Portugal) – Quadrennial Assembly of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations
• November 11 (Juno Beach, Normandy, France) – Remembrance Day Ceremony, when a CWL commemorative 70th anniversary D-Day Brick was installed

The new executive came together for the first executive meeting in the fall to prepare for its next two years in a spirit of unity and sisterhood filled with great hope for the future.

As 2014 came to a close, the theme, We Have Seen the Lord! proved to be a sign for the time as members embraced and lived it out with joy and purpose. They went out and told everyone of the good news of the League, ensured that no one was in need and made every effort to come closer to their God as individuals and in parish councils.