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Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI)

Member Profile October 2012

This month CCIC spoke with the Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI).  In this interview, AQOCI staff speak about their campaigns, as well as social change in Quebec and the effects of CIDA funding cuts in Quebec.

AQOCI staff team

CCIC: Can you give us a general overview of AQOCI—when the organization was founded, how many members it has and what its areas of focus are right now?

AQOCI: The Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI) is made up of 65 member organizations from 13 regions of Quebec. These organizations work locally and abroad for sustainable human development. Since 1976, AQOCI’s mission has been to promote and support its members’ efforts and initiatives to foster international solidarity. AQOCI’s aim is to eradicate poverty and build a world based on justice, inclusion, equality and the respect for human rights, and it relies on the strength of its network to do so. The AQOCI network includes over 1,000 international partner organizations, more than 10,000 volunteers in Quebec and abroad, thousands of donors who generously support development and humanitarian aid activities, and close to 2,000 Quebec cooperants and interns who work with our southern partners every year. AQOCI’s current focus includes such projects as the Partenaires solidaires campaign, the Journées québécoises de la solidarité internationale, the Comité québécois femmes et développement, internships with Québec sans frontières, the Table sur l’éducation du public and the training and skills development program for member organizations.

CCIC: We have seen some inspiring examples of social change in Quebec recently: the student movement, the election of a first female premier, etc. How might these movements influence the international development sector in Quebec and in Canada?

There definitely has been a lot of social change in Quebec since last spring. AQOCI member organizations supported the student movement to embed international concerns in Quebec’s local struggles. Unpacking international issues to make them more accessible to the Quebec population was an achievement in international cooperation. The “printemps érable” student movement was also backed by many communities internationally—in France, Japan, the U.S., Australia and Chile, for example. People from around the world showed their support for the students in Quebec. As for the recent election of Quebec’s first female premier, that’s an example we hope will inspire women and girls to step forward and become leaders in their respective fields. The recent movements in Quebec have been influencing the international cooperation sector in terms of how we shape our messages, actions and efforts. They have also shown us that in achieving change, there is power in numbers.

CCIC: AQOCI has been involved in several campaigns that reflect Quebeckers’ desire for change: the work with the Pas de démocratie sans voix coalition, the initiative to return control of the International Assistance Envelope to Quebec and the “Faisons les comptes” campaign that will take place during the Journées québécoises de la solidarité internationale. Can you talk a bit about these campaigns and the change AQOCI would like to see in the future?

AQOCI: Partenaires solidaires is an AQOCI campaign, involving its 65 members, for a better partnership with the government in international cooperation. We want a full-fledged partnership with the federal government—one that is based on dialogue and a respect for the organizations’ independence. The campaign involves several initiatives to raise awareness about current issues in international cooperation among our network and Quebec’s general public.

Since 1996, AQOCI has organized the Journées québécoises de la solidarité internationale (JQSI) every fall, with the support of Quebec’s Ministère des Relations internationales, de la Francophonie et du Commerce extérieur. During the event, the public is invited to participate in various activities to learn about current issues in international solidarity. The theme for 2012 is “Faisons les comptes! Pour une économie juste au service de l’humain” (for a fair economy, centred on people). Soon to be introduced is a public forum involving three economic powers whose decisions impact millions of people around the world. The forum is being organized in collaboration with Partenaires solidaires. As for future changes AQOCI would like to see, that’s easy. We simply want to revisit our basic mission and defend our values regarding international cooperation—to work together to overcome poverty and build a world based on justice, inclusion, equality and the respect for human rights.

CCIC: We know that CSOs in Quebec were particularly affected by the changes to CIDA’s funding mechanism and by the results of the latest calls for proposals. Can you tell us how these organizations are doing now and whether or not they will be able to recover?

AQOCI: The Partenaires solidaires campaign is currently conducting extensive research to assess how international cooperation organizations in Quebec are doing, given that many AQOCI members were greatly affected by CIDA’s ideological shift in international aid and its funding mechanism changes. The organizations have shown exceptional motivation, resilience and stability through it all. They have increased their efforts to rally their supporters and to defend their mission and the work of their collaborators down south, in order to maintain established long-term partnerships. The network’s strength is also in finding alternatives to traditional funding and creatively handling any existing gaps. Our partnership with Quebec’s Ministère des Relations internationales, de la Francophonie et du Commerce extérieur is positive, and it is growing even stronger given current conditions, which they are monitoring closely.

5) Lastly, what is AQOCI’s role in the Inter-Council Network and CCIC? How would you describe the participation of AQOCI and its members within Canada’s international development community?

AQOCI: AQOCI is very active among its various networks—especially the Inter-Council Network and the CCIC—particularly in terms of its expertise in political advocacy and the equality between women and men. These partnerships are excellent opportunities for information sharing, discussion and skills development.

 

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