Filipina leads Church’s development arm in B.C./Yukon
By Ted Alcuitas
“Another world is possible, ” says Katrina Laquian, first woman of colour to head the B.C./Yukon region of the Catholic church’s official development aid agency – Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace-Caritas Canada, known simply as Development and Peace (D&P).
Laquian, a graduate of the University of Victoria , takes over as Animator after serving as a interim animator for the past two years. She is one of 12 animators in the country who acts as the aid organization’s spokesperson and animates the areas under her jurisdiction. As such, she travels the whole B.C. and Yukon to speak to parishes as well as other venues where she is called on.
The Guelph, Ontario-born and raised Laquian moved to Victoria to finish a sociology degree.
She takes over at a critical juncture of the organization which is now in its 50th year and facing tremendous challenges in its work here and abroad.
City in Focus featured Laquian on the occasion of International Women’s Day:
“City in Focus is very pleased to introduce Katrina Laquian and encourage her work for The Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. For almost 50 years Development and Peace has acted as the international development arm for the Canadian Catholic community supporting communities in the Global South by promoting alternatives to unfair social, political and economic structures, and educating the Canadian population about the causes of poverty and by mobilizing Canadians towards actions for change.
“Meaningful work – I believe we all endeavour to find an occupation that offers us this service to the greater good, however, it has always been my wish. I had been interested in the work of Development and Peace since high school.
Growing up in a Catholic community in Ontario, I had participated in their Thinkfast program (fasting, education, and fundraising), and had two science teachers who were members of the organization that shared their work with us in the classroom and in the pews.
After transferring to the University of Victoria to complete my degree in Sociology, I was accepted as a youth on their first bilingual Solidarity Tour to the Philippines. Half a decade of membership and participation on their regional council, and another solidarity tour later, I have found myself the humble servant to the local members of our movement in BC and the Yukon, and an advocate for the marginalized of the Global South, whose struggles and concerns we bring to the Canadian public as we build a more just world.
In Development and Peace I have been given an opportunity to utilize the skills that I have best developed in leadership and community engagement and to honour my values in giving “preferential option for the poor.”
I am constantly learning about the most pressing concerns of those living on the fringes of society, and the actions they will take, no matter the cost, to lift their communities out of oppression and poverty. In their courage I am given an example of how I must strive to be in carrying their messages widely in our part of the world, and accompanying the members around me to do the same.
The belief that “another world is possible” has never carried so much meaning for me as with this work of solidarity. Being a part of movements like this are paramount if we are to secure that better world for our future generations.