Quakers in the World

Quakers in the World

Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC)


Canadian Friends Service Committee (CSFC) is the peace and service agency of Quakers in Canada, working with a wide range of partners at the international, national and community levels to bring about their vision of long-term sustainable changes in our world.

Origins and History

CFSC was founded in 1931, as a joint arm of the then three Canadian Yearly Meetings.  They took part in wartime and post-war relief in Europe. In the 1950s and 60s, CFSC supported the Friends Rural Centre in Rasulia in India, staffed in part by Canadian Friends.  In the 70s, their role in Rasulia changed to supporting small local projects. From 1963 to 1976, CFSC operated a Friends Peace Education Centre on Grindstone Island. During the Vietnam War (1965 – 73), CFSC welcomed draft resisters from the US and sent medical aid to all sides in the conflict.

CFSC’s Quaker Committee on Native Concerns (now Quaker Indigenous Affairs Committee) was formed in the 1970s out of Friends’ attempted reconciliation between indigenous groups and government over mercury contamination of waterways. Since then they have supported indigenous communities and urged governments to live up to their legal commitments.   In the 1990s and 2000s, CFSC worked with Indigenous partners and others on negotiations towards the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The 1970s also saw the establishment of the Quaker Committee on Jails and Justice (now Quakers Fostering Justice.) CFSC has worked to promote restorative justice and has supported the Alternatives to Violence Project. In 1981, Canadian Yearly Meeting committed to prison abolition as a long-term goal.

In 2001, CFSC established an International Affairs Program, based in Ottawa.  It worked in collaboration with the Quaker United Nations Offices in Geneva and New York, on areas such as intellectual property rights, food security, and traditional (indigenous) knowledge. Due to shortage of funds, the programme was laid down in 2011.

Funding, Governance and Scale of Operations

CFSC was legally incorparated as a non-profit organsation in 2001. It has a board of 22 volunteers and five full-time staff.  There are three programme committees - Quaker Peace and Sustainable Communities, Quakers Fostering Justice, and Quaker Indigenous Affairs Committee. In the financial year ending in 2012, total expenditure was about CAN$500k. About half was spent on personnel and management, and the Peace and Sustainable Communities Committee spent about $175k.  The rest was divided between the remaining committees. CSFC's main source of income is bequests.

Home base, physical offices, and countries worked in

CFSC is based in Toronto.   It currently operates in Iraq, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Palestine and Jamaica, as well as in Canada.

Methods of Work

Individual Canadian Quaker meetings may bring an issue to CSFC at any time, to be considered alongside issues CSFC has itself identified. Sometimes issues are taken to Yearly Meeting for wider consideration. CSFC's three committees then prepare, implement, and monitor programme plans, taking account of the issues raised. They then work in partnership with Quaker Meetings or with international and/or ecumenical groups.

CFSC aims both to provide practical assistance and to engage in policy dialogue.  The knowledge gained through research and experience is shared through education activities, thus inspiring others to get involved.  The work is strengthened by building relationships and partnerships and by a belief that everyone has a contribution to make.

Areas of Current Work

Crime and justice: Restorative Justice, Penal Abolition, Victim Support
Economic justice: Biotechnology Regulation; Medical Education and Maternal Health in Iraq; issues concerning the mining, use and disposal of uranium and other nuclear material;
Human Rights: Civil Liberties erosion post 9/11; conscientious objection; rights of refugees
Indigenous Rights: raising awareness of Indigenous concerns; promoting land rights, self-determination and the right of worship; providing small grants to Indigenous groups; engaging with the UN, the Canadian government and other groups
Peace and nonviolence: partnership projects in Indonesia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Palestine and Jamaica
Public policy: building relationships with elected officials and conducting public campaigns on matters of Quaker concern, to raise awareness and increase understanding.
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