The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

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Women Of The Sun

Posted on January 28, 2011

John Garang, deceased visionary and key political figure in south Sudan’s struggle for independence, once called them “the marginalized of the marginalized.” No more. Something is subtly changing in what will soon be the world’s newest nation and it’s not just statehood. It’s the millions of women who make up 65% of the southern population and who have survived decades of brutal war, famine, disease, slavery, and constant mobilization only to emerge as the key voting bloc in this month’s referendum. Politics never interested them much; survival did. But now that peace and likely independence have emerged, they are discerning an opportunity that’s not just about their children or their tribe but themselves – individual beings who up until now were the caregivers of…

Who’s Watching Whom?

Posted on January 27, 2011

We no sooner had descended from the Sudanese sky to a dirt airstrip than we were asked to immediately visit the commissioner in charge of the referendum process. It was something of a surprise because we’ve been going to that same village for over a decade delivering development programs and the request was unusual. He immediately asked us if we would be official observers of the referendum process. “You know our people,” he ventured, “and they trust you.” Naturally, we said we would take up the challenge, yet I recall walking away from his office thinking I wasn’t really sure who the real observers were. Sure, industrialized nations had sent along official scrutineers to cover the entire region of the south and elsewhere to…

Winds of Change – Back to Ottawa

Posted on January 26, 2011

This is the final video from our remarkable trip to Sudan for the historic referendum. Of all our dozens of trips, leaving on this occasion was perhaps the most difficult. The Sudanese we have known for over a decade – administrators, soldiers, exiles, slaves, religious and educational leaders, NGO workers – were all focused on one event, the referendum, and it caused many of us to commiserate on just have far things have come over the years. For the Sudanese it didn’t represent a moment in time in which they could exercise their vote; rather, its was the culmination of decades in which they were able to correct what they believed to be one of the great social and moral injustices of the modern…

Winds of Change – Projects

Posted on January 24, 2011

It’s been difficult only getting to Sudan for one week a year because of my parliamentary schedule – visits used to be far more frequent. Yet we have been fortunate in having a good number of Canadians travelling with us each year. Some have been coming for the last five years. That leaves my wife, Jane, and our good friend Carol Campbell to oversee the ongoing activities of Canadian Aid for Southern Sudan. For years I was proud to be Executive Director for CASS, but that changed the moment I got into politics. Because our organization has received CIDA funds in the past, it was necessary for me to step down from that position as well as to step away from the board –…