Member Profile March 2017

Islamic Relief Canada

Zaid Al-Rawni

This month, CCIC met with Zaid Al-Rawni, CEO of Islamic Relief Canada to discuss the relief and development work they do globally – and domestically – and of the changing roles for Canadian NGOs working internationally.

CCIC – Islamic Relief works with communities in over 40 countries to strengthen their resilience to calamities, and provide vital emergency aid when disasters occur. Please tell us about a recent project of which you are particular proud. 

Zaid Al-Rawni – One project that we are very proud of is our Raspberry farming project in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The region is still reeling from the war that took place in the 1990s. Women are the ones who find it hard to find work to support their families. Official national figures estimate that around 20 percent of the population lives below the nationally-defined poverty line and 30 percent just above the poverty line.

In this project, Islamic Relief trains orphan families and single female-headed households on raspberry planting so that they can earn a living by growing and selling raspberries.

Islamic Relief Canada provides families with relevant equipment, training, and land  to enable raspberry planting, growing, marketing and selling. The autonomy that comes with a project of this nature allows for these families to be lifted out of poverty and become contributing members of their economy and society.


CCIC – Islamic Relief Canada helps the impoverished access basic services, including education, water and sanitation, and healthcare, and provides lasting routes out of poverty through sustainable development schemes. How does your organization educate, inspire, and engage Canadians on the importance of your work?

Zaid Al-Rawni – We strongly believe in community engagement and have worked hard over the last ten years to build a strong and trusting relationship with Canadians – specifically the Muslim community. In 2016, we raised a total of over $20 million from the Muslim community in Canada. We educate, inspire and engage Canadians on our work through community events, fundraising dinners, mosques outreach and by empowering volunteers and staff to own projects and causes.

In Ramadan, which is the holy month of fasting for Muslims, we reached out to our supporters and volunteers and encouraged them to organise fundraising dinners in their homes for an Islamic Relief project of their choice.  With our support, Canadians across the country were mobilising their friends and families to come together to donate towards humanitarian programmes in the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Our Ramadan campaign raised a total of $ 8.2 million.

We also participate in media initiatives, forums  and local and international conferences where we present and share our expertise on the work that we do. Recently we took part in a UN Women conference  raising awareness about our work on women and girls  – which was also attended by various Canadian NGOs, Ministers and MPs.


CCIC – According to the UN Humanitarian Chief, the world currently faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the United Nations was founded in 1945, with more than 20 million people in four countries facing starvation and famine. Given the Prime Minister’s pledge that “Canada is back” on the world stage, do you think there is an opportunity for Canada to take a leadership role in humanitarian assistance? What type of response would you like from Global Affairs Canada? 

Zaid Al-Rawni – We believe Canada has an important role to play on the world stage when it comes to humanitarian assistance. We are a country stronger together not in spite of our differences, but because of them, as our Prime Minister has said. We welcome the recent Government announcement of funding to respond to the crises we are seeing in Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Yemen. Here at Islamic Relief , we’ve received 1.5 million for a project in Yemen.


CCIC – Given the recent Quebec mosque shooting, and the troubling international trends, do you see a shift in the domestic role of Canadian NGOs working internationally? 

Zaid Al-Rawni – Of course. The Quebec mosque shootings was a threat to all Canadians. We were personally affected as we had a strong relationship with the mosque and some of our volunteers were injured that day. When it comes to domestic work, for us, we believe that there is a balance. We’ve been around in Canada for 10 years now (this year marks our 10 year anniversary) and over the years we’ve been expanding our work here in Canada for all communities of all faiths.

We are actively assisting the victims of the Quebec mosque shootings. Last year, we mobilised our teams in Edmonton to help those affected by the Fort Mcmurray wildfires and we supported  the resettlement programme for Syrian refugees arriving in Canada. We’re also pursuing initiatives on ending violence against women and girls in Canada.

With everything that is going on in the world right now, we feel that as the largest Muslim NGO in Canada we have a responsibility to step up when we are needed for all Canadians – regardless of race, gender or religion.  I think that as more events change here in Canada, we will see more NGOs starting to venture into more domestic projects – while still maintaining its strong international presence. There is a balance and we are working to achieve that where we can be the voice of Canadian Muslims in Canada and around the world.


CCIC – Islamic Relief Canada is an important member of CCIC. What contribution do you hope to bring to CCIC and what value does CCIC bring to your work?

Zaid Al-Rawni – We are honoured to be a CCIC member. We hope that we can work together with its members and staff to achieve our goals of ending global poverty and promoting social justice and human dignity for all.

Member Profile February 2017


Mr. Richard Lacasse during his participation in an international cooperative seminar organized by SOCODEVI in Trujillo, Peru. In this country, SOCODEVI contributes to the improvement of the living conditions of 4000 families of agricultural producers in the context of its PRODIVCOM project.

This month, CCIC met with Richard Lacasse, Executive Director at SOCODEVI, to discuss the meeting between SOCODEVI members and Minister Bibeau, the vision of SOCODEVI for the future and expectations after the International Assistance Review, among other things!

CCIC – Minister Bibeau has recently visited SOCODEVI and has met with 150 partners from your network of cooperatives and mutuals. What would you say was the main message of Minister Bibeau to your partners, and vice versa? 

Richard Lacasse – The Minister delivered a stimulating and optimistic message to our members, partners and guests, insisting on the need to put women at the heart of development initiatives in poverty reduction strategies, ensuring in particular their empowerment. She has also stressed the importance of strengthening the skills of women and men as an essential means to achieve this greater empowerment.

On that occasion, SOCODEVI also presented a short video, “10 reasons why co-operatives are a lever for the empowerment of women”, a document which is now available online on our communication platforms.  The meeting also helped to emphasize the natural role that cooperatives play in the promotion of inclusive economic growth, in the creation of fair partnerships and in capacity-building because of their DNA.


CCIC – SOCODEVI is a network of cooperative societies and mutuals. How would you describe this unique model and this approach to international cooperation? What is its main strength?

Richard Lacasse – The model of SOCODEVI has an extraordinary force because it can count on the experience and expertise of cooperatives and mutuals from all sectors in Quebec. These are organizations that make available to their partners in the South know-how, expertise and adapted tools based on actual experiences related to sustainable development and the implementation of solutions to promote inclusive economic growth and resolve serious poverty and inequality problems.

We must remember that nearly a billion people are part of co-operatives around the world, with more than a million cooperatives, and that they contribute to the creation of nearly 250 million jobs. Moreover, we should stress that the FAO acknowledges co-operatives as a tool to reduce hunger and poverty, and that the International Labor Office acknowledges co-operatives as a tool for job promotion and creation.


CCIC – SOCODEVI recently celebrated its 30th anniversary. Over the years, you have conducted more than 400 projects and 650 technical assistance missions. What is your vision for the future of the organization? 

Richard Lacasse – SOCODEVI wants to excel and be recognized globally for its implementation of innovative and adapted solutions for the development of perennial cooperatives, mutuals or associations, which will provide quality services to their members and to their community, to enable them to become references in their environment in terms of social and economic performance, and to have an impact on the improvement of the living conditions of the populations.  An ambitious program, but we are convinced that we must strive to reduce inequalities and create opportunities to eliminate poverty.  As the slogan of the International Year of Cooperatives, declared by the United Nations in 2012, said: Co-operatives are businesses to build a better world.



CCIC – SOCODEVI participated in the International Assistance Review (IAR) in 2016. While there isn’t yet an official commitment, what do you expect from the government in terms of strengthening the community of CSOs working in international development and humanitarian aid? 

Richard Lacasse – The consultation document of the International Assistance Review stressed that “we must build on our comparative advantages and put in place more innovative programs and partnerships in order to obtain lasting results”.  One of the comparative advantages of Canada is the expertise of its recognized sectors of excellence, which must be put forward even more.  Canadian civil society organizations, which offer great expertise and who have a strong reputation around the world, are part of these comparative advantages of Canada.

The co-operatives in Canada are one of these sectors of excellence. They are regarded as world leaders in this regard, and are part of Canadian values.  There is a real opportunity in the context of the International Assistance Review to further strengthen the  partnership between the Government of Canada and its exceptional partners to contribute more effectively to the delivery of aid and development  cooperation programs.


CCIC – SOCODEVI has been a member of CCIC since the fall of 2015. Why have you made the decision to join CCIC?

Richard Lacasse – It is important to have a strong voice to ensure that the development cooperation agenda is effectively promoted amongst the Canadian population, and with government officials in Canada in particular. We also think it is important to have a place of exchange, enrichment, practice-sharing and ideas to advance the cause of development.

Member Profile January 2017


Nursery school students in the village of Chandaka, Malawi, wash their hands with clean water before eating breakfast together. WaterAid helped this hillside community of 160 people drill a borehole in 2016.

This month, CCIC met with Nicole Hurtubise, Chief Executive Officer at WaterAid Canada, to discuss expectations after the International Assistance Review, key programs in 2017, innovation and many other things!

CCIC – WaterAid Canada actively participated in the 2016 International Assistance Review (IAR). Now that the consultation is complete, what is your hope and vision for a new Government of Canada International Assistance Policy? 

Nicole Hurtubise – Some 663 million people around the world are still without a clean source of drinking water, and 2.4 billion do not have access to basic toilets. The resulting illnesses kill nearly 900 children a day. The lost productivity costs many developing countries as much as 5 per cent of GDP each year – that is equal to the decline in many developed nations’ GDPs at the height of the 2008 economic crisis.

Mr. Trudeau has said that things can happen when we collaborate in pursuit of a larger goal. There are few things more essential to human survival than water. Without access to clean water, the world’s poorest people will stay poor. The evidence clearly shows that sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene are essential if we are to empower the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations and help them reach their potential.

Global Goal 6 commits the global community to ensuring everyone, everywhere has access to water and sanitation by 2030. At a time when the world faces so many crises, these goals represent a real chance at creating a fairer, healthier, more sustainable world for the next generation. Nearly every single goal – ending poverty and hunger, improving health and education, reducing inequality – comes back to water. By building on Canada’s leadership in maternal newborn and child health and the rights of women and girls, Canada is in a position to lead by example and champion the human right to water, sanitation and hygiene at home and abroad.


CCIC – Given that we are one month into the New Year, what are you most looking forward to in 2017 for WaterAid Canada?

Nicole Hurtubise – Having access to water and toilets is transformative.  It opens doors to education, health, nutrition and to a better livelihood. Access to water and toilets offers women and girls so many more opportunities to contribute their fullest to their communities.

The good news is that for the first time in history, access to clean water for everyone everywhere is within our reach. Nine out of ten people now have access to safe, clean water to drink, cook, and clean with and more than six in ten of the world’s population now have access to a decent toilet. Every year, 78 million people turn on a tap or using a pump, and 69 million close the toilet door behind them for the very first time. As we begin 2017, we know we can change history one gesture at a time, and our goal of reaching everyone everywhere with clean water and a safe decent toilet is well within reach. I’m looking forward to working to continuing this incredible progress.


CCIC – Innovation has always been a key priority for international development and humanitarian assistance CSOs. We also saw innovation included as a key pillar for the IAR. Please tell us about one of WaterAid Canada’s innovative programs or partnerships. 

Nicole Hurtubise – Innovation – ‘being creative and agile, always learning, and prepared to take risks to accelerate change’ – is one of our core values and central to our Global Strategy. For example, we have a Water Innovators program at WaterAid. This employee development challenge gives businesses the opportunity to help WaterAid solve real problems. We provide participants with three challenges based on real water, sanitation and hygiene-promotion problems faced by the WaterAid team in Nicaragua where 800,000 people don’t have access to clean, safe water, and two million live without access to a decent toilet. Participants set personal learning objectives, work on an innovative solution that could be put into practise in our work in Nicaragua and share reflections as a team at the end of the process. This is just one way we are trying to implement opportunities that help to accelerate change.



CCIC – You estimate that without safe access to water and sanitation 315,000 children die every year. What would you like Canadians to know about this crisis? And what can be done about it? 

Nicole Hurtubise – In developing countries, each child has an average of ten attacks of diarrhea before the age of five. This is directly linked to a lack of safe water, adequate sanitation and good hygiene practices. It is linked with many other health problems too, including undernutrition, pneumonia, and parasites. At WaterAid, we aim to prioritize water, sanitation and hygiene in international and national health goals, policies and strategies, and to embed water, sanitation and hygiene projects in relevant health programs and interventions. Public health depends on safe water, sanitation and good hygiene. Without them, deadly outbreaks of preventable illnesses will continue, and the impact of infectious diseases will worsen around the world.

We want to reach everyone everywhere with clean, safe water. This means we consider the needs of children as well as adults when improving safe water and sanitation services. We make sure water points and toilets are accessible to children and improve facilities in schools so that they can continue learning. Children are quick to learn and can be effective ambassadors for good hygiene within their families and communities. We promote good hygiene through child-friendly activities such as puppet shows and plays, games and songs, and we help set up school hygiene clubs.


CCIC – WaterAid Canada is a relatively new CCIC member. Why did you make that decision to join CCIC?

Nicole Hurtubise – WaterAid Canada is a firm believer in CCIC’S mission to work globally to achieve sustainable human development, end global poverty and promote social justice and human dignity for all. We believe that, by being an active member, we can both contribute to strengthening CCIC as the voice of Canadian civil society organizations working in international development and elevate our own voice. We believe that water, sanitation and hygiene are and vital to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Membership in CCIC gives WaterAid the opportunity to work with likeminded organizations to promote and strengthen the integration of water, sanitation and hygiene in international development programming.


Member Profile November-December 2016


CASID President Ian Smillie, at the 2015 International Cooperation Days

This month, CCIC met with Ian Smillie, President of the Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID), to discuss the unique role of CASID, the upcoming 2017 Conference and the new project between CASID and CCIC, among other things! CASID is CCIC’s first Associate Member.

CCIC – When was CASID founded, and to respond to which needs? 

Ian Smillie – The Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID), founded in the 1980s, is a national, bilingual, interdisciplinary and pluralistic association devoted to the promotion of new knowledge in the broad field of international development. CASID is a membership-based organization.  Roughly a quarter of our members are students, and another 25% are development practitioners.

To accomplish its mission to promote and support international development studies in Canada and abroad, CASID maintains a listserv to enhance communication and the sharing of information among interested and engaged IDS people worldwide. CASID organizes an annual conference and sponsors various regional events each year to share opinions, experiences and research findings, to enhance networking and communication in the IDS community, and to facilitate the emergence of new development researchers and practitioners.


CCIC – The field of international development has grown a lot in the past decade, with more and more universities and colleges offering programs. How easy or how difficult is it for graduate students to find work in their field?

Ian Smillie – International development is one of the most popular fields of study in Canada today. There are some two dozen IDS programs at Canadian universities and thousands of graduates every year. Many students are undergraduates but there are now several masters and three doctoral programs.

Development studies on a CV will help graduates find work in the field, but there are many more IDS graduates than there are jobs in the field. That is perhaps as it should be, with Africans, for example, now taking more of the development jobs in Africa than foreigners. One might ask a similar question about jobs for students of sociology, economics or history: how many history graduates will find work as historians? Many of those who persist will, but for those who do not, the importance of studying history is not diminished. That said, the majority if IDS students consider the IDS degrees as important to shaping world views that affect their career paths, even if they don’t end up doing what we think of as international development work. Many use IDS as an undergraduate degree to foster critical thinking and global understanding and then move on to specialized graduate programs in public health, law, business and other fields.


CCIC – The Canadian Journal for Development Studies is CASID’s flagship publication; who can submit articles and how is the journal disseminated? 

Ian Smillie – Founded in 1980, CJDS is the only Canadian scholarly journal devoted exclusively to the study of international development. It is published quarterly by CASID in partnership with Routledge. Membership in CASID includes a subscription to the CJDS. The CJDS is edited at Trent University and editorial administration is housed at Simon Fraser University. CJDS is the number three-rated interdisciplinary social science journal in Canadas. Print and electronic subscriptions are available and in 2015 there were 33,358 full-text downloads, important in themselves, and as an income-earner for the Journal. Anyone can submit an article to the Journal. Its aims, scope and peer review policy are available on the Journal website.


CCIC – Each year CASID organizes an Annual Conference; can you give us a glimpse of the 2017 edition, in terms of themes and speakers? 

Ian Smillie – CASID’s annual conference brings together scholars, practitioners and students interested in international development and global studies from across the country and around the world. Everyone is welcome. It will take place May 31-June 3, 2017 at Ryerson University in Toronto, in partnership with CCIC. This year’s theme is Scholar/Practitioner Collaborations:  Next Generation Leadership for the New Development Paradigm. The conference will showcase scholar/practitioner collaborations across a range of themes from migrant rights to extractive industries. There will be two keynote speakers (to be announced) and over 150 paper presentations on 28 panel themes. One of these will deal with “Career Paths and Employment Outcomes of IDS Graduates in Canada” – the result of a major study of 1900 IDS graduates, with support from alumni offices at 14 post-secondary institutions across the country.


CCIC – CCIC and CASID will soon be starting a joint project, which aims to enhance the collaboration between academia and practitioners. Can you tell us more about the project and the expected outcomes?

Ian Smillie – It is odd, despite the great interest in development studies, that there has been little crossover between the Canadian academic and practitioner worlds. The practical synergies that one sees in Britain and other countries are largely absent here. The CASID-CCIC project aims to remedy that over the next three years, getting practitioners into the classroom and academics out into the dirty-fingernail world of Canadian NGOs. This will be done through secondments, regional events and conferences, and specific programs of practical research that we hope will demonstrate what is possible when the two worlds interact on a level playing field.



Member Profile October 2016


Rupi Malto’ s family is part of a Foodgrains Bank-supported agriculture and livelihoods project in India. The project involves, among other things supporting families in growing kitchen gardens to improve consumption of nutrient-rich vegetables and overall health.

This month CCIC met with Jim Cornelius, Executive Director of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) and former chair of CCIC’s Board. We discussed the importance of partnerships and youth engagement, as well as current campaigns, among other things!

CCIC – Most of the work that CFGB does is based on partnerships: with your members, with Canadian farmers and with local partners. Can you tell us more about why these partnerships are central to your work? 

Jim Cornelius – The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is an association of 15 member churches or church-based agencies working together to end global hunger through the support of food assistance, nutrition, agriculture and livelihood programs. We also work to engage Canadians on global hunger issues and influence policy change. As an association, partnership is at the heart of how we work. The Foodgrains Bank was formed in 1983 as a vehicle for Canadian churches to work together in addressing global hunger. From the beginning it was important to identify and articulate the ‘value-added’ of the partnership. We regularly need to revisit and adjust the ‘value-added’ the partnership provides to ensure that it remains healthy and relevant.

Initially the ‘value-added’ of the partnership was the development of a joint mechanism to mobilize grain resources from Canadian farmers and make these resources available to our members to meet food needs around the world. The deep partnership that developed with the Canadian farming community and related businesses is still central to who we are. While we no longer ship Canadian grain, we continue to have a strong relationship with the Canadian agriculture community; providing farmers and agriculture businesses a vehicle to use their gifts and skills to make a difference in the world. We also established a long-standing funding partnership with the federal government; providing the government with a unique arrangement through which they could partner with the Canadian farming and agriculture community in the provision of food assistance, a partnership that is deeply valued by both parties.

The 15 member churches and agencies that make up the Canadian Foodgrains Bank each have well-established, long-term relationships with partner organizations in many countries and communities around the world. Most of our international program is delivered through this network. Because of large scope of the network we are often well placed to respond to food needs in many parts of the world as they arise and to work with and through local organizations and structures. The Foodgrains Bank also provides technical support to its members and their partners to strengthen the cost-effectiveness and quality of the programming being delivered. We also create opportunities for the members and partners to learn from each other. More recently, the Foodgrains Bank partnership facilitates the development of public engagement resources and materials available to all our members and their constituents, and we have developed a joint advocacy voice for the churches on global hunger issues.

The many partnership relationships we have is the reason we speak of ‘working together to end global hunger’.


CCIC – One of your current campaigns is the “Good Soil” campaign; what are the key asks and what has the campaign accomplished so far?

Jim Cornelius – The key ask of the Good Soil campaign is to persuade Global Affairs Canada to provide more and sustained support for small-scale farmers around the world. We’ve been advocating for aid investments in agriculture for many years, and were successful in helping persuade the previous government to make food security one of its priorities. We saw a significant increase in funding for agriculture following the global food crisis. However, that level of funding has been falling, so we launched our Good Soil campaign to help restore aid funding for agriculture to at least $500 million a year. The terrible irony is that the vast majority of people who are hungry in the world depend on agriculture in some form or other for the livelihoods. There is solid evidence that well designed investments and growth in the smallholder agriculture sector can make a significant contribution to reducing poverty and hunger, and can serve as a platform for achieving many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

With some special funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we have been able to devote more resources to this policy work. We have been pulling together, summarizing and disseminating research making the case for investment in small-scale agriculture, building public support for the campaign resulting in over 12,000 Good Soil postcards from the public being sent to the Prime Minister’s Office, organizing and holding many meetings with MPs, and engaging in multiple conversations with departmental officials and the Minister’s office. We believe the campaign has been successful in making the case for Canada to invest more in smallholder agriculture and building support for such an investment. However, we also recognized that it was critical to build a broader supporting coalition around the goals of the Good Soil campaign.


CCIC – CFGB is also a member of the “Aid for Agriculture” campaign. How does that complement your own efforts? And what would success look like? 

Jim Cornelius – Drawing on the relationships that already exist through the Food Security Policy Group, we have helped establish a larger coalition calling for increased aid investments targeted at smallholders. This larger effort has been branded as the #Aid4Ag campaign. We see it as an extension of our Good Soil campaign that includes many more Canadian organizations. The Aid for Agriculture campaign is tailored to show how an increased investment in agriculture can contribute to many of Canada’s priorities and the Sustainable Development Goals. Success for us will be: 1) many and diverse Canadian organizations supporting this initiative (over 35 organizations are already supporting the campaign), 2) investment in smallholder agriculture will be prominently integrated into the aid framework that emerges from the international assistance review, and 3) aid funding for agriculture will be restored to at least $500 million a year.


CCIC – Many faith-based organizations face the reality of having aging supporters. How do you respond to the challenge of engaging youth? 

Jim Cornelius – We have made the strategic decision to engage youth through educators and youth leaders. With a small public engagement staff complement, we can only directly engage a limited number of youth. However, we can expand our reach significantly if we equip teachers and youth leaders who are on the frontlines of engaging youth. We develop and disseminate resources for teachers and youth leaders concerning global hunger and poverty. Some of these resources are designed for faith community contexts and other resources for more secular contexts. We often attend teacher conferences to engage with teachers and share our resources.

We have found there is an appetite for these types of resources in the school system and in the church community. Another way we are reaching out is through conducting learning tours for educators and youth leaders so they can see for themselves the realities of global hunger and what is being done at community levels to reduce and end hunger. This inspires them to integrate issues of global hunger into their teaching and programs.


CCIC – CFGB is an active member of CCIC; what do you value the most in your membership?  

Jim Cornelius – For us it is important to be an active part of the larger relief and development community in Canada. Achieving our mission is not something that can be done alone. There is always something that can be learned from others, and activities that can best be done together. We see CCIC as a convener of important conversations and as a vehicle for the relief and development community to speak with a collective voice on certain key issues.


Member Profile September 2016


Robin Montgomery delivers a joint Civil Society Organization Statement during the 38th meeting of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) in June 2016 in Geneva, Switzerland. The statement calls on Member States and UNAIDS to ensure sexual and reproductive health and rights are protected as we work towards ending HIV by 2030.

This month CCIC met with Robin Montgomery, Executive Director of the Interagency Coalition for AIDS and Development (ICAD) to discuss Canada’s Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria leadership, a new project with CARE Canada, the top 3 international development issues and much more!

CCIC – On September 16th Prime Minister Trudeau announced a total pledge of 12.9 billion USD at the Global Fund Replenishment Conference in Montreal. What does this funding mean for HIV, TB and Malaria? And what more needs to happen? 

Robin Montgomery – The Fifth Replenishment Conference was a powerful show of Canadian leadership. Canada brought world leaders together to pledge almost $13 billion, allowing the Global Fund to continue its important work scaling up access to life-saving prevention, treatment, care and support services for the most vulnerable and marginalized around the world.

In many ways, this 5th replenishment of the Global Fund has been a litmus test — not only in terms of our global commitment to meeting the 2030 goals, and the UNAIDS Fast-Track targets more immediatelybut also to our global commitment in how we are going to get there. I’m meaning here, global endorsement of the policies and programming tenets that are advanced by the Global Fund and many of its partners. Policies and programs that see human rights, gender equity, robust and well-funded community systems, and key and vulnerable populations empowered as leaders and agents of change. These are the quintessential ingredients for global progress and are fundamental to meeting the ambitious global goals set before us.

Despite the positive outcome of this Conference, we see this as just the beginning with much more needing to happen. We’re calling on Canada and the world to recall that the $13 billion replenishment target is but the floor, and not the ceiling. Continued resource mobilization is a pressing priority.  The global resource gap remains significant if we are to reach our collective targets for AIDS, TB and malaria. And funding is not all that is required to meet the global goals—we need political will, we need a commitment to having key populations at the forefront of the response, and we need a response that is guided by human rights. Canada has demonstrated impressive leadership in mobilizing partners around this conference and around these pressing issues, but much more is needed here at home in Canada and in communities abroad.


CCIC – We understand that you will soon be launching a new program with CARE Canada ‘SANI: the Southern Africa Nutrition Initiative’. Could you tell us a little bit about this exciting new initiative?

Robin Montgomery – CARE Canada is leading the Southern African Nutrition Initiative (SANI), and ICAD is excited to be partnering on this project, along with CUSO International and McGill Institute for Food Security. SANI is a four-year project, funded by Global Affairs Canada, aimed at improving the nutrition of women of reproductive age (15-49 years) and children under five years old in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia.

Within the SANI project, ICAD is leading a capacity-building training and twinning initiative that will strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations in Canada, Malawi and Zambia to address the intersections between gender, nutrition, food security, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and HIV. ICAD has a long history of leading programmes that contribute to building strong, diverse civil society and community responses. Programs, such as SANI, allow us to embrace and further the sharing of knowledge, capacity, lessons learned and best practice approaches across partners in different sectors, geographies, countries and communities. We are really looking forward to delving back into twinning and focusing on the linkages of these critical issues.


CCIC – The International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) is designed to provide Canadian post-secondary students with professional experience, skills and knowledge through international development work. ICAD is a long-standing IYIP partner. Why is this program important to ICAD and your partners? 

Robin Montgomery – ICAD has been sending interns overseas through IYIP for about 10 years now. ICAD has always delivered IYIP in partnership with our Canadian members and it’s been an incredibly valuable opportunity for many reasons. Through the internship program, ICAD and its members have been able to develop and strengthen partnerships with organizations in the South that are doing similar work to us. The organizations we work with have benefitted from the many cohorts of talented youth interns they have hosted. And ICAD and its members have been able to support youth to become engaged globally and to understand HIV, global health and international development from the organizations working at the frontlines of the epidemic.


CCIC – 2017 is an important moment for Canada and Canadians as we celebrate 150 years as a country. It also provides a unique opportunity to raise awareness amongst Canadians of Canada’s global contributions and our international development and humanitarian efforts. What are the top three issues or messages you would like to share with Canadians? 

Robin Montgomery – There are three key issues that are top of mind for ICAD right now. One is Canada’s role in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both in terms of setting and reaching targets domestically, and in contributing to international efforts to meet the SDGs. Canada’s international contributions require that cuts to ODA are immediately reversed and that a plan is put in place to reach our 0.7 % target. In order to meet the HIV and TB targets, Canada really needs to be addressing HIV and TB as a cross-cutting issue across other SDGs as being both a leading cause and a consequence of poverty. This requires the fostering of innovative cross-sectoral partnerships and evidence-based action that supports and builds the resilience of communities and community systems across Canada and globally.

Another critical issue in terms of Canada’s contributions to international development and the HIV response is gender equity. We welcome Canada’s renewed focus on sexual and reproductive health and rights and see an opportunity and obligation for Canada to show leadership in setting a truly transformative agenda when it comes to gender. This agenda needs to look at ways of meaningfully engaging men, and needs to focus in on particularly vulnerable groups including adolescent and young women and transgender men and women.

Finally, for all of this to happen, we need a robust and well-resourced civil society response. We encourage Canadians to be a part of advocacy efforts to ensure this is a reality. Communities are at the forefront of the progress being made globally and they need to be supported to continue this work.


CCIC – ICAD is a longstanding and engaged CCIC member. Can you share one membership highlight from the past year?  

Robin Montgomery – There have been many highlights over the years. One was in November 2015, when ICAD joined with CCIC to present to its membership the experience of moving to a virtual office. We really appreciate the opportunity to reflect on and share our own transition to a virtual model, and we were able to learn a lot from CCIC and other presenters and participants.

With the dramatically shifting landscape for civil society organizations over the past decade, the sector has really started to explore different and innovative ways of working, both in terms of internal operations and collaborative models with partners externally. Having the opportunity to discuss ICAD’s move with colleagues in the development field was really valuable. Since we transitioned to a virtual office environment 2 years ago, there have been a lot of learnings and shifting in our ways of doing things to ensure that we expand our programming and continue to deliver high-quality results. We are eager to share our perspective and lessons learned with others who might be considering a similar approach.