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Randall Garrison: from executive director to Canadian member of parliament.

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Well here we are, PPP at 40 years. My own connection with PPP began in year 14 of the organization, first serving two years as Executive Director. This was followed by nearly a decade on the PPP board and included serving as editor of Tok Blong Pasifik from time to time.

I came to PPP out of my own history of community activism and in particular from work with First Nations in the NWT and from Central America solidarity work. Working with PPP not only expanded my horizons to the Pacific, it also taught me the unfortunate parallels among indigenous rights struggles around the world and the necessity of the fight against global warming as a threat to the health of coral reefs and ultimately to the habitability of the islands themselves.

PPP has always been at the forefront of solidarity work on East Timor and West Papua. While the struggle in West Papua continues, internal resistance in East Timor eventually won an independence referendum. I still remember getting a letter asking for volunteers to go to Dili as part of the UN observer mission for the referendum. I took a couple of days wondering who I could suggest before realizing the reason the letter was addressed to me. I ended up co-coordinating the154 volunteer observer mission and witnessing the violent but successful birth of East Timor as a nation. That experience led me to further international human rights missions including peace building work on Ambon Island in Indonesia and work for Amnesty International in Afghanistan.

So yes, PPP has had a big impact on my professional and personal life. I met many lifelong friends through working with PPP and acquired valuable experience that I have drawn on constantly over my past four years as a Member of Parliament. And yes, I do look forward to continuing to work closely with PPP over the years to come.

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Publication:Tok Blong Pasifik
Date:Dec 22, 2015
Words:319
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