For youth, justice camp an exciting mix of faith and community

Published August 27, 2009

(From left to right) Ed Trevors (Halifax); Rachael Pollesel (Ottawa); Sandra Fyfe (Wolfville N.S.); Bishop Sue Moxley (Halifax); David Torraville (Gander Nfld.); and Colleen Sym (Georgetown, Ont.) rest after clearing brush away from the graves of black loyalists in Shelburne, N.S.

Jen Schwartz, who recently attended her first justice camp, says she was “really pumped.”

The 23-year old, who just graduated from St. Mary’s University in Halifax, was referring to the justice camp hosted by the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island from Aug. 9 to 15. “I love people and my faith is really important to me, and when the two come together that’s where you get social justice,” said Ms. Schwartz.

This year’s event was the fourth incarnation of an initiative started by the Partners in Mission and Eco-justice Committee of the Anglican Church of Canada. Each year’s event is planned and organized by a different local diocese.

The diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island chose to examine poverty issues with a theme of “Finding Abundance.” Approximately a third of the participants were younger than 30.

About 65 participants broke into small groups and travelled to different parts of the diocese for immersion experiences. Ms. Schwartz’ group went to P.E.I. to learn about the challenges for marginalized or disabled people. A barbecue with parishioners at St. Paul’s Anglican Church introduced the group to people struggling with many different kinds of challenges: disabilities, addictions and homelessness. “You don’t appreciate the journeys around you until you have a face to put with the story,” says Ms. Schwartz.

Another group travelled to Digby, N.S. to talk to clam fishers about the challenges that community faces. The group also learned how one small fishing village found a way to survive by focusing on the local economy.

Cydney Proctor, one of the local organizers and a second-year student at King’s College in Halifax, said that for her, “the radical hospitality” with which they were received made the biggest impact. “We hung out with people who can’t afford food in the (Annapolis) Valley and they sat us down and got us dinner,” she said.

Canon Maylanne Maybee, General Synod’s eco-justice co-ordinator, stayed in Halifax with a group looking at urban poverty. The group walked the city streets for a day to better understand what it is like to be without food or shelter and invited the people they met to a baseball game and barbecue later in the week. “The strong and abiding sense of community and community support even during hard times really came through,” said Ms. Maybee.

Bishop Sue Moxley of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island participated in a group learning about the experiences of black communities in Nova Scotia. Overall, she thought Justice Camp 2009 went very well. “What they are meant to do is help people get their head and their heart around justice issues, and it certainly accomplished that. You could tell by the presentations how energized people were, that they had got it.”

Editor’s note: A name in the photo caption has been corrected.


  • Leigh Anne Williams

    Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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