CATHII— University at the UN: A third cohort that sows hope

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For the first time since the launch of the CATHII – University at the UN, participants will be able to travel to New York to attend the 67th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).

The ten students will attend the on-site sessions from March 4-8. This delegation will take advantage of its presence to network with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) gathered at the CSW, visit the United Nations, and take a few field trips in addition to attending sessions on human trafficking.

Members of this cohort will be able to follow the other sessions in virtual mode until the end of the 67th edition, which ends on March 17. Afterwards, the students will prepare a report on their experiences and discoveries. The report with its conclusions will be presented in a special edition of the newsletter of the Action Committee against Internal and International Human Trafficking (CATHII) planned for next May.

Some special features

 “This third edition is special in many respects”, points out Sr. Lise Gagnon, a member of the trio responsible for this program, along with project manager Kavitha Culasingam, and Élodie Ekobena another CATHII member of the Centre Justice et Foi. (Centre for Justice and Faith)

In addition to attending the UN, this is the first time the program has included two people in the workforce who have returned to pursue their academic studies. These individuals are in their thirties and have experience in a medical setting and at a Crime Victims’ Assistance Center (CVAC).

Also to be noted is the return to a human-scale group. “The first year we had eight people. The second year, we had 27.  This larger number of participants had a more  difficult time integrating with each other,” says Sr. Lise. The third cohort comprised of 10 members fostered closer relationships and facilitated the logistical elements in New York.       

Mission accomplished

Even though CATHII is not yet ready to evaluate its program, it is clear that it has fulfilled its initial mission of training the next generation. “We wanted to help sensitize young people to the situation of human trafficking in all its forms without really knowing who we could reach with our program,” she recalls.

To date, the program implemented in 2020 has reached 45 students from 13 different academic faculties at six separate institutions. These faculties include criminology, social work, journalism, public affairs, political science, medical, anthropology and law! “It’s a pleasant surprise and it’s also a good way to open up to other horizons,” says Sr. Lise.

Sr Lise Gagnon, snjm

The ten students of this third cohort participated in four preparatory sessions led by a team composed of a researcher and professor at the School of Social Work at McGill University which is concerned with the situation of migrants, a person from the organization Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle (CLÉS), (Together in the fight again sexual exploitation) whose work is recognized with victims of sexual exploitation and internal trafficking. A person from the Coalition québécoise contre la traite des personnes (Quebec Coalition against human trafficking) and a member of CATHII who has experience with UN sessions, complete the group of trainers.

“It is very touching accomplish the work in such a short time despite all the pitfalls due to the pandemic. The fact that we now have an intergenerational cohort that will be able to go to the UN is seen by our entire team as a gift of life,” exclaims Sr. Lise.

This year’s ten participants are from the universities of McGill, Sherbrooke, Laval and the Université de Montréal. The theme of the 67th session of the Commission on the Status of Women is “Innovation and Technological Change, and Education in the Digital Age for the Achievement of Gender Equality and the Empowerment of All Women and Girls”.