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Halifax dialogue session part 2

April 5, 2008

Citizens discussing their visions at our Halifax dialogue session

From our wonderful intern Trisha Dempsey, based at Dalhousie University.

Halifax was to host the 5th regional dialogue March 14th – March 16th. As someone who had been involved in organizing this dialogue, I had been eagerly anticipating this event. I was very curious as to how many people would turn out. Would people participate? Would they become engaged and invested in the dialogue? To be honest, I was skeptical that a group of 26 Canadians would give up their whole weekend to be involved in a project they had probably never heard of before.

Friday evening as people took turns going around the room to present their key concerns and their reason for hope regarding the future of this world, my doubts were extinguished. I knew from the very beginning that this was going to be a productive and inspiring dialogue! It was obvious that everyone was eager to begin the dialogue and they were excited about being given the opportunity to have their voices heard.

The environment and global warming was a pressing concern for most people. The older participants were worried for their children and their grandchildren if the environmental and social crisis worsened, but on the other hand, the future generation was a source of hope for most of the participants. They were encouraged by the future generation’s enthusiasm and level of awareness of world events.

Saturday morning, after everyone had been caffeinated and their brains had been stimulated by the large group discussion and a visioning exercise, we split off into three small groups. The three new realities that were discussed at the Halifax dialogue were: ‘Global Inequality’, the ‘Communications Revolution’, and ‘Rising Powers’. I was the note taker for the small group discussion on ‘Global Inequality’. I found it fascinating to observe the interactions between the 8 participants, skillfully encouraged by the Canada’s World facilitator. Everyone had varying levels of knowledge and experience and had a unique contribution to make to the discussion. Gradually, over the course of the weekend, these amazing 8 people grappled with complex issues related to global inequality and managed to narrow it down to some concrete policy directions that they all agreed on.

The dialogue process had an impact on the individuals themselves. One of the ladies in the group admitted from the start that she had very little knowledge or awareness of world issues and she was initially intimidated to come to the dialogue. She said she also did not like to speak in public. Saturday evening I spoke with her during a break period. She said she was so inspired by the dialogue process and all the incredible people she had met. She said she didn’t typically even read the newspaper, but after this dialogue she was going to pay much more attention to world events and planned on becoming involved in movements to create social change. One of the last exercises we did on Sunday was to have each group present the group’s work. I was very impressed that this lady felt comfortable enough to be the designated presenter of her group, and I think she did a fantastic job!

By Sunday evening everyone was mentally exhausted, but thoroughly inspired and enthusiastic about the process! It left a lasting impact on everyone involved.

If you were a participant in our Halifax dialogue session, or feel inspired to share your own views on Canada’s role in the world, visit our conversation forums and make your voice heard.

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