Summer 2009
Steve Dennis

“My goal isn’t to end global conflict, but to end the suffering of people who live in places where conflict takes away their basic human rights”


Steve Dennis (BASc 1999)

Steve Dennis (BASc 1999)

Fave U of T moment As a winner of the 3T5 Second Mile Engineering Award (for involvement in the faculty, I had lunch with members of the class of 1935. I enjoyed hearing these gentlemen and their wives talk about the really important things in life – honesty, good workmanship, career-life balance. Most importantly, they advised me to seek out work that inspires me deeply; money and other details would sort themselves out.

Since graduation I am on a leave of absence as a fieldworker with Médecins Sans Frontières. I am writing a book about my experiences and why people leave their comfortable lives to work in countries in conflict.

A meaningful event In 2007, I was working in a displaced persons camp in Chad, near the border with the Darfur region of Sudan. There were approximately 13,000 inhabitants, and no latrines. I remember holding a meeting with the representatives of all 52 villages in the camp about how to acquire the tools and labour to dig 650 latrine holes. To my surprise, the village representatives said, “Give us the tools, and we will dig the holes.” When the tools arrived, the camp started bustling with activity. It struck me that when honest meetings are held and everyone’s strengths are appreciated, much can be accomplished.

Your dream? I like the saying, “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.” I’d like to work in dispute resolution. My goal isn’t to end global conflict, but to end the suffering of people who live in places where conflict takes away their basic human rights.

What has winning the Gordon Cressy Award meant to you? It showed me that charitable and community work is important. I was honoured to be acknowledged and encouraged that I am on the right path.


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