“As we let our barriers down or remove them, we move closer to the center of our being. When we tap into that central core, we experience a self-acceptance and a sense of peace that allows us to connect with others without fear or apprehension. It is this connection that transforms us and others.”—John Shuford
There are a great many charitable organizations out there. But how many of them make it to their 90th birthdays? 2021 marked the 90th anniversary of Canadian Friends Service Committee!
That’s 90 years of Quakers quietly working away behind the scenes to open space for dialogue among parties in conflicts, to build trust, and to help people find common ground.
It’s 90 years of advocating for justice and systemic changes, so that you and everyone else is free to reach their fullest potential.
It’s 90 years of simplicity and frugal spending where it’s needed most.
In this 90th year, our work continues to grow and change in many exciting ways despite the all too real challenges of a global pandemic. We’ve adjusted well to our physically distanced reality and maintained deep connections through online spaces.
We’ve held workshops and monthly events like our Get to Know Thee, Friend series, which celebrated our 90th anniversary by sharing stories from some of the amazing people who quietly make CFSC’s work so impactful. Holding events in this manner has helped us connect with a wider community of attendees from across Canada and beyond.
We have been so pleased to welcome two new staff members, Dalya Eidda and Priscila Recinos, to our small team during the pandemic. Once it is safe again to do so CFSC members look forward to meeting them face-to-face. Their having joined during the pandemic and working remotely makes their training and orientation a greater challenge, but we’re pleased at how much CFSC has been able to accomplish in spite of these difficulties.
Approximately half of our revenue continues to come from donations by individuals. A reserve fund in the form of investments and bequests contributes to the remainder of our budget. While our funding is sustainable for now, we cannot take future donations and bequests for granted and we continue to rely on a small number of individual donors. We now have a 10-year vision and budget and hope to expand both our program work and our fundraising in the coming year.
This report is a brief snapshot and only covers highlights. There are many channels to find out more about all that we do: QuakerService.ca; QuakerConcern.ca (also available in print—contact us to subscribe); our email newsletter; social media (@CFSCQuakers on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram); and workshops and visits (whether virtual or, hopefully, soon again in-person) with CFSC staff and committee members.
To all of our supporters: you make this possible. This is your work. So thank you!
Clerk, Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
The Readiness to Transform
All of the efforts you will read about—turning your gifts toward the service of love, justice, and peace—are funded by individuals like you. Please, donate now.
Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights
The main goals of CFSC’s Indigenous rights work are the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and greater engagement by Canadians in the activities recommended in the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC).
For many years CFSC has called on Canada to fully implement the UN Declaration. We are absolutely thrilled that an important piece of legislation toward this end, An Act to Implement the United Nation Declaration on the rights of Indigenous Peoples (formerly C-15), received Royal Assent on June 21, 2021 —National Indigenous Peoples Day. This is such a tremendous victory!
Throughout the year we continued to work with many Indigenous, human rights, and faith partners to publish op-eds and open letters, host educational events, and hold private meetings with federal government representatives to advance this long awaited legislation.
After so much hard work by so many people, for the first time a clear and ongoing legal commitment has been set out for the federal government of Canada. It must now ensure that its laws, policies, and programs are consistent with the global human rights standards affirmed by Indigenous peoples internationally and by the United Nations.
The implementation Act requires the federal government to “take all measures necessary” to ensure that the laws of Canada are consistent with the provisions of the UN Declaration. The Act also requires that a National Action Plan to implement the Declaration through law, policy and programs be developed and adopted within two years.
This means that there is plenty more work ahead for us to support Indigenous partners in seeing that the National Action Plan does everything it has to.
We were pleased this year to receive major funding from the federal government to support work around sustainable development and the UN Declaration. We continued our support of grassroots Indigenous cultural projects through the Reconciliation Fund. And we delivered multiple workshops, presentations, and key notes.
The main goal of CFSC’s criminal justice work is to eliminate the punitive mindset that pervades society and justice systems by transforming harmful approaches to ones that are healing.
When parents come into contact with the criminal justice system the needs and rights of children are not adequately considered. This realization, established through a sample case law review that CFSC put out in 2018, continues to drive much of our criminal justice work.
This year we worked hard with partners to help launch the website and public-facing resources for the Canadian Coalition for Children with Incarcerated Parents. CFSC hosts the website and has been instrumental in helping to establish and expand the Coalition.
We engaged in many meetings and consultations and contributed to policy submissions together with partners on issues such as the use of solitary confinement. For Prisons’ Justice Day we put out a new infographic on why Canada needs to abolish prisons and invest in alternatives that will cost less and keep communities safer. All of this work was to advance our vision of a justice system that is healing rather than causing further harms.
We continued to share resources related to The Only Way Forward series begun last year. The series unpacked the effects of the current criminal justice system, its disproportionate impact on Indigenous people and people of colour, alternatives, and ways forward. We enjoyed the opportunity to present at Monthly Meetings and engaged in rich conversations about the criminal justice system and ideas for positive change.
CFSC is grateful for the support and work of an advisory panel of external experts with lived experience in the criminal justice system. The panel included persons from diverse racialized backgrounds, and with professional expertise in working for effective alternatives to the current criminal justice system.
Your Values at Work in the World
All of these efforts toward justice and peace are yours. Please, donate now.
The main goal of CFSC’s peace work is to contribute to creating a culture of peacebuilding in order to identify, engage constructively with, and transform conflict.
CFSC continues our longstanding support for grassroots peacebuilders. This work is based on our recognition that communities yearn for justice and peace and, with the right assistance, have important roles to play in sustainable peacebuilding.
The pandemic created many challenges for our partners and for our own peace education efforts in Canada, but we still achieved a great deal.
We helped provide free high quality services to refugees and other newcomers to Toronto. We supported grassroots community peacebuilders in DR Congo and Burundi. We helped young Israelis access information and support when they chose to refuse to serve in the military. And we acted as a voice for Friends nationally on peace issues like military carbon emissions, Canada’s involvement in the arms trade, and plans to spend billions on new hardware such as fighter jets and drones.
Much of our energy went into giving radio interviews, presentations, and facilitating interactive workshops. Through these various forums we brought people together to discuss common challenges and build each other up.
We heard glowing reviews of our workshops via anonymous surveys. Participants greatly appreciated the opportunities to learn together and to connect. They also valued the carefully researched answers to pressing questions about how to address destructive conflicts and overcome hate, angry conspiracy theories, and false information.
Our ongoing blog for Psychology Today further helped evidence-based peace skills to spread to a wider audience. We received positive feedback and interest from as far away as China, and were contacted for help by various individuals and groups seeking support in addressing serious conflicts that they’re in the midst of.
Much of CFSC’s work is not done in the public eye. It’s not something we can readily convey in a few words or images. It involves cultivating relationships of trust and respect with different actors, and creating opportunities for dialogue among parties who may not talk to each other otherwise.
We hope this Annual Accountability Report has given you a taste of just a few of the many accomplishments that donors like you have realized in the past year.
As a supporter of Canadian Friends Service Committee, you make a difference every single day.