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Member Profile November-December 2014




CECI: A history of giving

This month, CCIC met with CECI Executive Director Claudia Black. Claudia discussed the key to the success of CECI, the organization’s approach to capacity building, the upcoming 4th International Forum "Great Development Debates" organized jointly with WUSC, as well as its international volunteer program UNITERRA... among other things!


CCIC - CECI has been active in international development for more than 50 years. How do you explain the success and the longevity of the organization?

Claudia Black - CECI has always been able to adapt to evolving contexts, to be innovative and proactive.   We have been through several stages in our history that show our organization's capacity to adapt.   From a religious movement founded by the Jesuits, and where training and raising awareness on international cooperation were the main issues, CECI  was incorporated in 1968 and launched an important international volunteer program, which has grown continuously, and a large program of project management  financed by Canadian bilateral aid.  In the 1980s, CECI decentralized its operations and opened offices abroad in more than ten countries, creating a CECI network.


CCIC - CECI has deep roots in Quebec but is a little less known in the rest of Canada; how would you describe your organization, in a few words, for our English readers?

Claudia Black - CECI is a volunteer sending agency but it is first and foremost a dedicated team guided by a single vision: that of a more equal world with less poverty and exclusion. CECI, through its professionalism, was able to build  itself a strong reputation and credibility with Canadian and foreign governments, and even more so with the populations of the countries where CECI works.  In Africa, in Asia or in the Americas, our regional and national directors ensure that our programs and activities are properly implemented.


CCIC - Capacity building is at the heart of CECI's work. What is your approach ?

Claudia Black - We have always been committed to the capacity building of the teams, the partners and the networks with which we work in order to create a framework of participative development in our projects. Local development, around which our activities are based, supports the  strengthening of economic capacities, of capacities related to human rights and equality, as well as of capacities to reinforce democratic structures.   To support this capacity building, we developed training modules and tools, which are all made available to our teams on the ground.


CCIC - CECI and WUSC will be hosting in 2015 the 4th International Forum "Great Development Debates" in Montreal. What is the importance of this event for the sector and what can participants expect?

Claudia Black - The International Forum is a stimulating annual gathering where the best ideas and practices in international development are shared.  It offers precious knowledge and perspectives to experts, decision-makers and researchers  from various sectors.  It brings together representatives from governments, international cooperation organizations from the North, civil society organizations from the South, the private sector, as well as international development researchers and experts. The fourth edition of the International Forum will take place on 23-24 January 2015, and it will be held for the first time in Montreal

In our efforts toward sustainable international development, we are confronted with several challenges, and many of the issues  we face are raising great debates.  While there is an important and wide variety of theoretical, political and practical approaches, we know that there is no magic solution.

The 2015 International Forum will stimulate discussions around the great debates of international development.  The 400 participants of 2015 International Forum will have a chance to contribute to discussions, and to listen to some of the clearest and most convincing voices on crucial and timely issues such as the following:

  • What if fair, equitable and sustainable development were good for business?
  • Does the South need aid from the North?
  • Engaging world youth in development: breath of fresh air or financial burden?


CCIC - CECI and WUSC are responsible for the volunteer sending program UNITERRA, one of the most important of the kind in Canada. What are the strengths of this partnership? And what has been the impact of this program to date?

Claudia Black - The partnership between CECI and WUSC  has been a success for 12 years thanks to the vision and reciprocal engagement,  the sharing of skills and resources, the alignment of representation, the synergy between volunteer programs and other projects, without limiting the autonomy and the independence of either group.  Internally, there have been mergers of volunteer management services, and many innovations such as the diversification of the volunteering models and the creation of an online result management system.  The external impact is huge: more than 200 partners strengthened in 14 countries, 275 000 people trained, 4500 volunteers mobilized, 200 000 Canadians involved in international solidarity actions, very active networking with other international volunteer organizations in Canada, and sustained support for Canadian authorities.


CCIC - Why is it important for the CECI to be a member of CCIC?

Claudia Black - CCIC has been able to represent the international community, and the CECI, in the best possible way before the Canadian government and the Canadian public.   This representation is an invaluable asset for the pursuit of our work.  We know that we can count on CCIC to give the international community a common voice and a most constructive discourse. 



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