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10 Posts in 10 Days: 10 Canadian NGOs to Follow in 2015

This year, countless Canadian NGOs led the way in the development sector, creating waves of change on an international level. This list, compiled by Devon Matthews, features 10 Canadian founded and operated NGOs. These organizations work on some of the world's most pressing issues, including women’s rights advocacy and medical services provision. Check out their 2015 campaigns and consider becoming involved or donating to some of these amazing organizations in the new year!  Engineers Without Borders (EWB) This group’s tagline -- “We are outraged and hopeful” -- speaks volumes to the passionate and pragmatic work this organization does. EWB works with engineers, major Canadian companies, university students and development workers from across Canada to innovately create meaningful change in communities across the African continent. In 2014, one project that EWB advanced was Mining Shared Value (MSV), which connects Canadian mining companies with the African communities they are working in to create an ethical and mutually beneficial business model.  Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) AWID is an “international, feminist, membership organization committed to achieving gender equality, sustainable development and women's human rights” through innovative projects. AWID draws attention to gender inequality and women’s rights-related issues . Above and beyond AWID’s direct action, however, AWID’s website serves as an excellent source of information and publications. Check out their 2014 report on funding allocation to gender equality issues in development.  Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) CCR works to create policy changes concerning the rights of refugees in Canada as well as abroad, with a special focus on refugee family reunification. In 2014, CCR lobbied for changes in policy regarding refugee health care access, discrimination of refugee assistance based on religion in bill C-43 and issues of human trafficking to and within Canada. Additionally, CCR does excellent work in the infrequently-addressed area of LGBT refugee rights.  Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative Founded by the renowned LGen. Roméo Dallaire (ret’d), the Child Soldiers Initiative seeks to eradicate the use of child soldiers in armed conflict situations by providing training to international police, military, peacekeeping and security forces, In addition, the Child Soldiers Initiative conducts extensive research on this issue and advocates for the international conventions against the use of child soldiers. This organization is guided by Dallaire, whose extensive experience with child soldiers in both Rwanda and other countries has assisted this organization in its effective work.  Dignitas International Dignitas International, co-founded by Dr. James Orbinski and James Fraser, was created to provide medical care and access to those suffering from HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB) in Malawi. Today, Dignitas works in many countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including its original projects in Malawi. In addition, Dignitas has focused considerable energy on clinical research and policy advocacy regarding access to essential medicines for both HIV/AIDS and TB. In 2014, Dignitas trained health care workers to respond to the Ebola crisis in order to contain the spread of this deadly disease.  The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) HRNK has been working tirelessly over the last decade to bring global attention to the crimes of the North Korean government, specifically in relation to the estimated 200,000 North Koreas currently serving multi-generational sentences for political crimes in labour camps. HRNK has worked closely with Shin Dong-hyuk -- the only known North Korean that was born a political prisoner and successfully escaped the country -- in lobbying for greater action by international governments and the UN.  The Maria-Helena Foundation This Vancouver-based NGO works to provide education, skills training and health care for children in Pakistan. This foundation also gives scholarships to Pakistani women who are leaders in their communities in Pakistan.  Founder Dr. Muhammad Iqbal is from Pakistan, and thus has a lifetime of experience with Pakistani development issues that allow him to inform the organization's mandate.  Disabled People’s International (DPI) DPI provides much-needed support systems for those who identify as disabled and struggle with issues of access and equality worldwide. DPI works in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean to ensure that the UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities is upheld through lobbying and advocacy work.  DPI has been working on a two phase project that began in January of 2014 and will carry into 2015, which aims to integrate those suffering from leprosy into their disability advocacy movement in 18 countries in the Global South.  The Stephen Lewis Foundation The Stephen Lewis Foundation is world-renowned for its fantastic work fighting to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. Over the past decade, the Stephen Lewis Foundation has funded over 1,100 initiatives run by 300+ community-based organizations across 15 countries in Africa. In addition to the provision of treatment for those who suffer from HIV/AIDS, the foundation also focuses on preventative community education and support networks to assist children who have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.  Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL-ACAADR) This group of Canadian lawyers and law students works on a non-profit basis, advocating for the rights of international refugees in Canada and providing free legal services for those who are unable to afford legal representation. In 2014, CARL did extensive lobbying work to attempt to change the Conservative Government’s stance on the rights of Syrian refugees. -Devon Matthews