Canadian Friends Service Committee

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Canadian Friends Service Committee
Abbreviation CFSC
Formation 1931
Type Religious organizations based in Canada
Legal status active
Purpose advocate and public voice, educator and network
Headquarters Ottawa, Ontario
Region served
Canada
Official language
English
French
Website Canadian Friends Service Committee http://quakerservice.ca/

The Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) acts on the peace and social justice concerns of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Canada. The outward expression of Quakerism is service. CFSC is guided by a vision of a world in which peace and justice prevail, where the causes of war and oppression are removed, a world in which the whole of Creation is treated with respect and where individuals and communities are freed to reach their fullest potential.

CFSC believes that there is that of God in every person, which inspires transformative, practical expressions of love and care for all Creation including the alleviation of suffering, the promotion of justice and peace, and provision of education and research on these concerns.

Quaker service work is rooted in the daily practice of pacifism, integrity, truthfulness, equality, community, simplicity and, above all, love both in the objectives of our work and in the discernment with which we plan and deliver our work.[1]

History[edit]

It was established in 1931 before the three yearly meetings in Canada joined together to form Canadian Yearly Meeting in 1955. The strength and experience which came from participation in Friends’ wartime and post-war relief and witness brought fresh impetus to CFSC: younger Friends and newcomers who had done Quaker service abroad as conscientious objectors in relief, reconstruction and ambulance work participated in the work with enthusiasm.[2]

In 1947, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) received the Nobel Peace Prize for its service work during war.[3] All of the Service Committees work is honoured by the Prize and the ethics that garnered it continue to inform our work today.

For 80 years, the concerns, witness and projects of CFSC have been challenging and enriching, and have contributed to a more peaceful and sustainable world. Because Quakers recognize that a concern is “that leading of the Holy Spirit which may not be denied”, CFSC has supported service projects, peace witness, education, and public policy engagement. CFSC’s work is not solely philanthropic or humanitarian, but expresses a spiritually-based approach to the life of our times.

Program Committees[edit]

  • Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee (QAAC)[4]

Friends have traditionally had a concern for the rights of Indigenous peoples. In 1974 individual Friends at Canadian Yearly Meeting were led to go to Kenora in Northern Ontario to attempt reconciliation in a confrontation over mercury contamination of the waterways. Friends with skills in pathology and medicine assisted the Indigenous community, whose people were suffering from mercury poisoning, by helping to document the problem and to provide medical treatment. The Quaker Committee on Native Concerns (now Quaker Aboriginal Affairs Committee) was born out of this work and other concerns, especially amongst Friends in western Canada. Since then the Committee has supported Indigenous community building initiatives, and urged governments to live up to their legal commitments to Indigenous peoples including Esgenoopetitj (Burnt Church) in New Brunswick, Pimicikamak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba and the Lubicon in northern Alberta. Historically, much of the work of this Committee was done in collaboration with the Aboriginal Rights Coalition which is now part of KAIROS, the ecumenical justice agency. Since the mid-1990s, QAAC has worked with others at the United Nations towards the development and recognition of an international instrument specifically addressing the rights of Indigenous Rights through the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

  • Quakers Fostering Justice (QFJ)[5]

In 1972, CFSC established the Quaker Committee on Jails and Justice (now called Quakers Fostering Justice, QFJ) which has worked to encourage prison visiting, sought alternatives to prisons, and fostered awareness of the roots of crime and violence in society. QFJ promotes restorative justice and has supported the Alternatives to Violence Project. In 1981, Canadian Yearly Meeting minuted: “Prison abolition is both a process and a long-term goal. In the interim there is a great need for Friends to reach out and to support all those affected: guards, prisoners, victims, and families. We recognize a need for restraint of those few who are exhibiting dangerous behaviour. The kind of restraint used and the help offered during that time must reflect our concern for that of God in every person.”

  • Quaker Peace and Sustainable Communities Committee (QPASCC)[6]

The Quaker Peace and Sustainable Communities Committee (QPASCC) exists to put into practice the Quaker Testimonies through projects, education, and public witness designed to alleviate suffering and poverty, promote justice, sustainable livelihoods and peace. The work of QPASCC is guided by the Quaker Testimonies of Peace, Simplicity, Community, Equality and Integrity. QPASCC works in partnership with communities, both domestically and internationally.

QPASCC’s work is rooted in “mutual learning”, a modern term that describes traditional Quaker practice of encouraging exchange, cooperation, education, and relationship amongst partners and participants in projects, overseas or in Canada. Lessons learned through our grassroots experience inform policy and education work in Canada. Generally speaking, projects are designed to have long-term results and develop self-reliance, as well as to respond to practical needs.

Using Quaker practice and in worshipful discernment, QPASCC provides concrete assistance and engages in policy dialogue towards peaceful, sustainable communities worldwide. QPASCC's work and experience is shared with Quakers and other people through education and partnership-building. In this way, QPASCC hopes to contribute to the social transformation necessary to achieve their goal that one day all people might be free from suffering, persecution and repression, and instead enjoy their rights to dignity, sustainable livelihoods, social inclusion and expression.

  • Quaker International Affairs Program (QIAP)[7]

In 2001, the Quaker International Affairs Program was established in Ottawa, Ontario, building on earlier work in facilitating dialogue in international affairs, such as Quaker Peacemakers and the diplomats’ conferences held at Grindstone in the 1960s. Until 2011 when it was laid down, it worked in collaboration with the Quaker United Nations Offices based in Geneva and New York and related to diplomats, government officials, and international non-governmental organizations.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Amnesty International (Canada) [1]
  • American Friends Service Committee [2]
  • Canadian Friends Service Committee [3]
  • Church Council on Justice and Corrections [4]
  • KAIROS [5]
  • Quaker United Nations Office [6]
  • Quaker Peace and Social Witness [7]