Creating Change: Lessons, Skills and Advice



  • The media has great power, and it is very difficult to get media on your side. "When we have an event, they just don't come."
  • People power as well as corporate power can be effective. It's important to have people who are affected by the issue to be part of action. Get them involved!
In terms of involving those who are most affected by an issue, the Urban Core Support Network (UCSN) does this very well by empowering persons living in poverty. I am a member of UCSN and many members live in poverty—they are the ones who know what is needed and are listened to. UCSN Coordinator Brenda Murphy is an expert in this regard, recognized for generously using her gifts for the good of those who are socially and economically disadvantaged.


  • You need to have skill in forging interpersonal relationships. You have to be able to be gentle and not express the anger that you feel—that's difficult, but important.
  • You must be able to analyze situations with an open mind. If you come in thinking you know what you're going to do and what the answer is, you're finished. You have to search for the truth, and sometimes it is hidden.
  • You need a terrific ability to stick to the issue, to be dedicated, to persevere in spite of everything.
  • You need to be able to work with others as a team with colleagues. It takes special skills to create a team.
  • You have to have enthusiasm for the issues, or you can't sustain yourself.

What helps

The scriptures, the life of Jesus, my congregation, and my focus on the issue have all sustained and motivated me. Broadening my horizons by attending conferences and protests, seeking information beyond the borders of the province and Canada, rubbing shoulders with dedicated activists—all have taught me a great deal.


I think it was Martin Luther King Jr., another of my heroes, who said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
  • "We must work in the Lord's vineyard or the work will not be done. Someone once said, 'He has no hands but yours'—this is true and the work is important, but if we think we are in charge and results depend on us, we become frustrated and give up."
  • Believe in the power of every person to do something. "When I was at the UN in 1999, then Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that there were two superpowers, the United States and civil society. He was speaking to the NGOs who were gathered for the Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations (DPI/NGO) Conference."
  • Even though you may not get results, learn to rejoice in the small victories: just do some little thing, value that and realize its importance, just as each person is important.
  • Keep on speaking out and don't give up regardless of poor results and setbacks. Sometimes the government just goes ahead and does what you don't want them to do, and that's when you keep speaking out.
  • Keep your expectations low. "I have been told this many times by different people, and then whatever happens will be better than what you expected."
  • Keep on doing something even if it's only you doing it, because others will be moved to follow. Do not be afraid to let yourself be seen as active—attending rallies, meetings of justice groups, educational conferences. Walk the walk, don't just talk the talk—and be a witness!
  • Encourage others to become knowledgeable about the issues. Read Janice Harvey's weekly column in the Telegraph-Journal.
Oscar Romero expresses it well: "We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own."