I travel to Sudan one week a year to help in overseeing our projects. Visits used to be much more frequent but parliamentary schedules and duties just make that impossible. The annual trips are taken on my break time and the costs are my own – nothing from the taxpayers.
This recent trip was a move through history, as south Sudan conducted its own referendum, overseen by the international community, in which it would determine whether to become the world’s newest nation. We took a team of 12 Canadians to one of the world’s most remote regions to witness a people who felt they were righting a historic wrong. In the process, all of us were asked to be international observers and the referendum itself took on an entirely new meaning for us.
Canadians are heavily invested in Sudan. Rotary clubs, religious institutions, universities, student groups, etc. – all these, representing thousands of Canadians and a good many people and groups in my own riding, have opted to assist south Sudan to find a new future. Recent Canadian governments have invested heavily in Sudan as well, making it one of three “countries of focus” for over a decade.
This week I’ll be posting a number of videos I took while in the south. I apologize in advance for some of the audio, as the winds were heavy near the beginning of the trip. Many will have known of my involvement in Africa for years, but this will give you something of a visual idea of what my wife, Jane, and I undertake with other Canadians in that vast but distant land. It was such a historic time, with many media interviews and much international interest, that I thought it best to let you see some of history being made. The videos start at the point of our arrival, but move on through the referendum process itself and on to some of the team members and their responsibilities. There were people of many political persuasions on the trip, including another MP, but it’s always been our purpose to forget partisanship and forge consensus on what can be done to assist the African continent. Every trip we have taken with large teams in previous years has successfully negotiated its way through political brands and successfully brought us a new shared sense of purpose. That was especially true on this present journey, as we were just overtaken by history and its possibilities.
Tomorrow: The Referendum Starts