The Blog

Unexpected Allies: Building Connections and Opportunities for Collaboration Across Sectors

By: Anne-Catherine Bajard

At BCCIC, we believe in … cooperation, of course. International cooperation, and local cooperation towards a world that is more just. To that end, internally at BCCIC, all our actions draw on the knowledge, expertise and relations of our members. Such is the example of BCCIC participation at the Commission on the Status of Women 66th Conference; all delegates were nominated by BCCIC member organizations, including representatives of partners in the global south.

On the BC front on public engagement in our country and province, we have taken a steady course in the past few months of liaising with, participating in, or facilitating activities with “others:” Organizations and social movements with whom we share a vision. This includes, among others, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the UBC Sustainability Ambassadors Program, Royal Roads University, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the Canadian Association for Global Health, the Assembly of First Nations, CODE, The Grandmothers Advocacy Network, the Centre for Social Innovation, the Canadian Community Economic Development Network, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and Theatre for Living.

In this process of looking up and out to who is out there, advocating for a better world, I was particularly fascinated by the work of CityHive’s EnviroLab branch, and how much this organized group of youth energized me in their ways of addressing the climate crisis.

The focus on “who else is out there,” knowing that through collaboration and cooperation we can have more impact brought to the forefront what should be obvious: public engagement need not be about “raising awareness,” but often much more about bringing the awareness together, for greater and more sustainable impact.

Public engagement need not be about “raising awareness,” but often much more about bringing the awareness together, for greater and more sustainable impact.

Connecting among unlikely sectors. Stepping away from what some call the “echo chambers” of international development, and looking for those engaged people and organizations that we might not realize are out there.

Here’s an accidental discovery of a potential new ally — that brought smiles to some friends’ faces: I had a dental appointment the day after the NDP-Liberal Supply-and-Confidence Agreement that would create a national dental program. The fantastically cheerful dental hygienist who attended me – at 7 in the morning – brought it up, and from there, the need for public health to be accessible for all, in Canada… and then moved on to global health, and related inequities!

In follow-up, tonight, as I study the BC Dental Hygienists’ Association’s website, I am struck by and in awe of their Statement Against Racism & Stigma:

Current and long-standing discrimination, racism, and stigma are systemic in our society and endemic in our institutions. Recent social and political events have glaringly demonstrated the deep roots of discrimination, oppression, stigma, and prejudice based on race, ethnicity, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental health, disability, and cultural identity that exist in our society.

Tragic events in the Canada, United States, and around the world have prompted deep and difficult conversations across society about systemic racism and the frameworks of privilege that allow it to endure. BCDHA condemns the racial injustices and nonsensical deaths of peoples of colour and we grieve for those who have lost their lives unfairly due to racism and stigma, including dozens of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

BCDHA unequivocally condemns racism, oppression, stigma, and discrimination in all its forms. We stand in solidarity with those who experience gross inequities due to discrimination.

We will continue to look for opportunities to advance change and foster an inclusive association and profession – and we will do so with intention, with purpose, and with your help.

Yes, an unexpected potential partner, ally, a pool of individuals and organizations that are engaged in a more just world, in ending inequities… I am humbled by the recognition that we do not have a message to spread – as if it were “ours” – but a greater need to connect among the many people already engaged in solidarity, cooperation, locally and internationally.

Now over to you, readers: any other allies you engage with or know of that our “sector” might not usually think about? We’d love to hear from you! 

Even as we share news in writing, don’t forget to browse BCCIC’s curated podcast playlist for those interested in learning more about international development, social justice and decolonization: Develop What? And do share your own favourite podcasts with us, at

Here’s a sample, from The Inequality Podcast:  Can Foreign Aid be Decolonized?

Or this one:  Partnerships for Resiliency Through Grassroots Networks:  Around the World in SDGs, from the Inter-Council Network

Great listening while puttering around the house or going for a walk outside!