Notre Dame High School students travel to Ottawa to advocate for peace

Beaches—East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (centre) with Notre Dame students. PHOTO: Submitted

On May 2, delegates from over 20 Catholic schools in the GTA accompanied the Development and Peace campaign bus to Ottawa to personally deliver postcard petitions to the Prime Minister’s Office and to their respective Members of Parliament.

Among them were four Notre Dame High School students who met with Beaches—East York MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith at Parliament Hill.

“Seeing how much these MPs really listened to us and shared our concern for issues was so motivating,” said Grade 12 student Brittney Lumanda.

Lumanda and three other students from Notre Dame’s Girl Up club helped collect over 900 of the total 20,000 petitions delivered.

The trip to Ottawa follows on the heels of the Women and Peace Rally that took place at Nathan Phillips Square on April 25. Over 500 people participated in this rally, 320 of whom were Notre Dame students.

The purpose of the petition was to urge the Canadian government to uphold its promise of investing 0.7 per cent of our gross national income towards development assistance, specifically for female organizations working to build peace around the world.

When women are involved in drafting peace agreements, there is a 35-per-cent greater chance of the agreements lasting at least 15 years, according to UN Women, the UN’s gender-equality organization.

“This is an idea that tracks back to one of the best prime ministers we ever had, Lester B. Pearson,” said Erskine-Smith.

“He gave us this idea that we have to keep pushing forward on issues including peace, and it’s incredible to have a room full of strong young women pushing that here in Ottawa and I hope to see this idea come through and to see these young people continue with advocacy in the future.”

“One thing that was very important as teen activists was seeing all the other teen activists fighting for social justice issues in their own community,” said Notre Dame’s Lumanda.

“Seeing other young people who care as much as we do reminds us that teen solidarity can be very powerful and able to bring about real change.”

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