UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Do meetings matter?

The discussions that take place at the World Religions Summit, the G20 meeting and the first national event of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will demonstrate whether talk can transform us

By Samantha Rideout

As I book my tickets to attend three high-profile meetings scheduled for this month, I wonder what each will accomplish.

Meetings are the target of many a joke, from Dilbert comic strips to fake motivational posters (“Meetings: The Practical Alternative to Work”). The truth behind these jokes is that meetings often involve too much talk and not enough action or decision-making.

But talking has its power and its place. The upcoming World Religions Summit at the University of Winnipeg is a good example of this. Religious leaders from the G8 nations and Africa will meet from June 21 to 23 to discuss an interfaith statement they plan to release to the G8 and the G20 leaders.

The statement, called “A Time for Inspired Leadership,” demands that the G8 leaders make concrete efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals adopted back in 2000. These goals include reducing the global child mortality rate by two-thirds, eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education and halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger, all before 2015.

In this way, the religious leaders hope to speak out for the world’s most vulnerable people: the poor, the hungry, the undereducated, the sick and the very young.

I’ll also be hearing from some of the world’s most powerful people when they meet for the G20 summit in Toronto on the weekend of June 26 to 27. The delegates’ main goal is to improve the global economy by working out a strategy that will include financial regulation and the control of national debts. Climate change, nutrition and natural disaster relief will also be on the agenda.

But the importance of talk will perhaps be demonstrated most clearly at the first meeting I’m planning to attend. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s first national event will take place from June 16 to 19 at the Forks in Winnipeg. It will be a chance for survivors of Canada’s residential school system to share their stories if they wish, so that we can all acknowledge the harm that was done and start building a historical record.

The commission’s hope is that talking about the residential schools will help both survivors and the rest of Canada edge a little bit closer to healing and reconciliation.

I’m looking forward to sharing some of the talk from all three of these important meetings on this blog. I will start posting on June 17, the second day of the TRC event, and continue with updates until the G20 summit wraps up on June 28. Some of the statements made, stories shared and truths revealed may well shift our thinking and change the world. So let’s pay attention.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!

Interviews

Courtesy of Pixabay

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Promotional Image

Editorials

Jocelyn Bell%

Observations: It’s a long road toward full equality for women

by Jocelyn Bell

'It’s a wonder that we continue to see male ministers as normative and attach shame to female ministers’ biology and sexuality.'

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image

Faith

May 2018

Toronto church builds interfaith friendship

by Vivien Fellegi

Faith

May 2018

This parent found no support for her autistic daughter — and decided to change that

by Kieran Delamont

Suzanne Allen talks about raising a daughter on the autism spectrum and bringing all autistic girls together

Faith

May 2018

Church retreat helps first responders with PTSD

by Joe Martelle

Interviews

May 2018

Why this woman is leaving the Catholic Church in her 60s

by Angela Mombourquette

After a lifetime devoted to Catholicism, a Nova Scotia teacher is settling in with the United Church of Canada. Here, she explains why.

Ethics

May 2018

Pregnant in the pulpit

by Trisha Elliott

Ministers who take a maternity leave still face discrimination in their own congregations

Interviews

May 2018

The two words Rev. Cheri DiNovo wants to hear from the United Church

by Alex Mlynek

The Toronto minister talks about her disappointment over the church’s silence when she officiated the country’s first legalized same-sex marriage 17 years ago – and why she wants an apology.

Promotional Image