Demetra Sainas – TAP Intern
This past October, I had the opportunity to attend Cooperation Canada’s International Cooperation Futures Festival with my colleagues from Alinea International’s Gatineau Office. The conference was an occasion for Canadian and International stakeholders working in the International Development sector in Canada to convene at the Shaw Conference Center in Downtown Ottawa and engage in meaningful discussion on topics such as decolonization, localization and climate justice to name a few.
As an intern working on the TAP-EDM Project, this was an exciting opportunity to network with other actors and agencies working in the Canadian international cooperation sector, and gain insight into triumphs and challenges of this work.
I attended various sessions hosted by incredible moderators and panellists. The first event explored an area that interests me greatly: The Future is Innovative: Testing Solutions to Advance Gender Equality and Health Outcomes. The event featured examples of leadership from two Canadian organizations working in the Global South, who are implementing their project through the Fund for Innovation and Transformation. The session provided me with insight into the way that health development is evolving to empower people to adopt and take charge of advancing health equality through innovations and technology.
My studies are in population and public health, so this was an exceptional way to start out my conference experience. I was especially struck by Khalid Hashi, a panelist who heads a joint initiative between OGOW Health and World Vision Somalia to improve and advance women’s continued access and follow-up with Somalian health services through technology. There are many exceptional ideas and solutions to better the health of individuals around the world, and this talk demonstrated that eagerness to bring about change through cooperation and funding.
There were many opportunities for meeting leaders in the sector. I enjoyed a lunch with Assistant Deputy Minister for food security and the environment, Christine Campbell. My conversation with the senior Global Affairs Canada official allowed me to understand more of the decision-making process that guides the path of Canada’s role in the International Development community. I also attended the which centered on the Global Hunger Crisis, and I was present at a conversation with the Honorable Minister of International Development Harjit Sajjan regarding the direction of Canada’s global aide efforts.
The conference was also a glimpse into the unique capacity that TAP-EDM plays in the international development stage. Many of the representatives from other NGOs and Civil Society organizations shared with me the model of their project, which was typically a focused, multi-year initiative. The TAP project occupies a very niche role with its model of many short-term initiatives of widely varied topics spread across the globe.
My big take aways from the conversation centered around the optimism and excitement around collaborating. The Futures Festival was an opportunity for like-minded people to meet and discuss. There were many opportunities for unlearning and challenging the way that this work has previously been done. Panels such as The Future is Decolonized: Shifting Power in Narratives and Practice and The Future is Climate Just: A Pitch for International Cooperation Readiness provided this important space. Thank you very much to Cooperation Canada for the excellent event and to the Alinea International Gatineau team and my TAP colleagues for the exciting introduction to Global cooperation.