In 2010, Christie was living in Winnipeg, Canada and had never been on a plane before. She had a desire to travel in order to see the world and experience different cultures, so she bought herself a one-way plane ticket to South Africa. Upon arrival she was blown away by just how different the culture really was. Always having an interest in social responsibility, her six month stay in South Africa only furthered her passion. While it has what Christie claims is "one of the most beautiful constitutions in the world," there is a big difference between what is written and what is practiced.
Experiencing this gap between human rights and lived rights drove Christie to take action. When she returned home to Winnipeg, Canada, she pursued a degree in human rights. As a part of her studies, she was able to return to South Africa to work and travel with South African students. "I had been itching to get back there," she said, "but while I was there I had an epiphany: while I was passionate about international human rights, I knew little about the issues in my own country and community." She decided to focus on local rights, where she had the ability to make a difference at home.
She was surprised to find that Winnipeg was a very dense center for human rights already. It houses over 150 different human rights focused organizations as well as the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. She founded the Human Rights Hub after coming to the conclusion that, "there was so much good work going on in our city that deserved to be highlighted.” The Human Rights Hub provides a space for promoting the people, organizations, and events working on human rights, as well as a place to coordinate, learn, and share. "This was why I was so excited when I discovered Boomcast, it is similar to our mission in drawing attention to the positive things that people are already doing."
After finishing her degree, she decided to work towards furthering her involvement in the human rights sphere. "People always talk about the importance of networking," she said, "but it is not just handing out business cards and shaking hands. It’s really about sharing your passion and interests whenever you have the chance!” She had shared her own passion with a friend, two years later their husband suggested a job that might interest her. That job was becoming the Executive Assistant of the Mondetta Charity Foundation, and later, the Executive Director.
The 4 founders of Mondetta came to Winnipeg as refugees after being forcibly expelled from their home countries of Uganda and Kenya in 1972. They started a clothing company, and later, recognizing they were in a place to give back to where they came from, they began the Mondetta Charity Foundation (MCF) in 2004. Since this time, a portion of the proceeds from the clothing company have come to Mondetta Charity Foundation; Mondetta also organizes an annual fundraiser that typically raises $100,000, which is split between MCF and a local charity.
Mondetta Charity Foundation works with a school in Uganda and a day centre in Kenya. "I just got back from Uganda and Kenya where I was able to see the projects first hand," Christie shared. She traveled for three weeks with Kish, a former VP of Mondetta and the current president of MCF, his wife, and the other founders. She said that one of the most amazing things to witness was the founders returning to their home countries for the first time since they were forced to flee, "They had never seen these projects in action, so it was incredible to experience it with them."
At the time of their travels, the organization had just finished building a wing onto the previously constructed school. The program was growing too quickly for the building and they were running out of space quickly. The new wing of the school is 3 stories tall and allows the charity to support, teach, and feed even more children. They were also able to give the children 6,000 pairs of shoes purchased at price from Mondetta in order to further improve their living conditions.
"It was really valuable for me to have this experience with the foundation so I can better tell our story," Christie said of her time abroad. Now that the classroom and shoe projects have wrapped up, Christie's already moving onto new ideas to further benefit human rights. "We have been conducting primary research in landscaping," she told us, "The school is in the middle of a slum on a slanted piece of property. There is erosion and flooding that impacts where the teachers live at the bottom of the hill when water gathers. We hope to partner with the local city council to do some landscaping and renovation."
Another exciting milestone in Christie's future is her plan to attend law school this fall. Drawing once again on her desire to bridge the gap between human rights on paper and lived rights, she decided to attend law school with the hope of addressing the institutionalized racism and systemic injustice that persists in Canada, particularly regarding our nation’s treatment of Aboriginal people. She was adamant however, that she will stay involved with both the Mondetta Charity Foundation as well as the Human Rights Hub, albeit in a smaller capacity as she begins this exciting next step.
Want to learn more about The Human Rights Hub? You can right here! Also, while Christie may have "learned web design on the fly" as one of her many Executive Director responsibilities, the new Mondetta Charity Foundation site is beautiful and shouldn't be missed! Check it out here.