Résidence Despins Residents Caring for our Common Home

28 April, 2023 | Despins Charities (Résidence Despins), Despins Charities (Villa Aulneau)

On April 17, over 60 people gathered in the chapel of Résidence Despins, a supportive housing and independent living community, to watch a presentation by Climate Change Connections (CCC), a local non-profit organisation dedicated to educating Manitobans on climate change and finding solutions to the challenges facing our world.

The event was a follow-up to an impact donation made by a group of women religious.1 The $100,000 donation was made to help further the work of CCC, and the presentation included some of the ways the funds were used. A newly-hired employee – working on food waste solutions in the province and running social media accounts – have made a significant impact for CCC in gaining public awareness. Since the role was created in February 2023, their social media following has grown from 500 to 3,000 people on Instagram solely, which is a key way to educate and inform the public.

Sister Cathy Laviolette, who lives at Résidence Despins, was in attendance. “As religious communities, we’ve been implicated in the care of our common home for a long time now,” she shares. “This isn’t a new issue for us, but the more education and the more outreach we can do, the more people can get involved. To me, the environment is integral to our faith and our daily lives.”

Residents attend the CCC presentation

The presentation by CCC explained the ways that they are working with industry associations, governments, non-profits, and youth groups to help spread awareness and hope. Susan Lindsay, who works primarily with youth through CCC, explained that different audiences need different types of information to stay engaged. “We’ve learned with students that the science is overwhelming for them and leaves them feeling discouraged,” she shared. “What works is when we talk about solutions. When we can talk about how we can help and how we can make a difference, there begins to be hope.”

Sister Laviolette concedes that the seniors living at Résidence Despins can also feel helpless. “We are here, watching climate change happen in front of us every day,” she continues. “That makes it very important for us to gather as a community, especially since not everyone has had a chance to learn about this topic. We’re doing what we can in our residences; we’ve been composting for two years, and our recycling program is robust. Our hope is that more and more people make this a part of their daily lives.”

While sisters from the various congregations involved in the impact donation were at the presentation, many lay people attended, as well. “When there’s an issue like this that touches people lives, someone will bring it up at Despins,” explains Sister Laviolette. “Many of us were educators, and we’re becoming so much more aware that we all belong to creation and need to help bring awareness to that. The seniors here can talk to their children or their grandchildren about climate change. It’s all of our responsibilities.”

1 The religious orders involved in this impact donation – supported by Réseau Compassion Network – are The Grey Nuns of Montréal, Sisters of the Holy Cross, Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, Sisters of the Cross, Missionary Oblate Sisters of St. Boniface, the Soeurs du Sauveur and Sisters of our Lady of the Missions.