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‘Quaker Concern’ through the decades

Quaker Concern has a new website – and a long and rich history reporting about Friends’ service work via the Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC).

Quaker Concern then

The oldest copy of Quaker Concern still in the basement of Friends House in Toronto is Volume 2, Number 3, dating from 1976. It’s shocking to see that the cover story of this issue, about logging and mercury contamination in Grassy Narrows in northern Ontario, is still relevant today.

Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) was founded in 1931, uniting Friends from the then three different Yearly Meetings in Canada to work collectively on shared concerns of peace, integrity, equality, simplicity, community, and respect for all creation. The Quaker Reporter was established to report on the service work Friends did within CFSC, and in 1975, the publication was renamed Quaker Concern.

Articles from the earliest Quaker Concern reflect active threads within CFSC’s program work today. Canadian Friends Service Committee (CFSC) continues to support the long struggle for justice as mercury continues to poison the people of Grassy Narrows. The Ontario and federal governments have finally made promises about remediation work to address the remaining mercury, and we must continue to hold them to account for these promises.

Quaker Concern now

In other articles from this 1976 issue we read about Friends’ concerns for peace internationally and for the treatment of people who have committed a crime. We see a powerful letter written by someone incarcerated in Toronto’s Don Jail, discussing the importance of social justice and positive change before reconciliation can truly be achieved. CFSC’s work continues to centre around criminal justice, peace, and Indigenous Peoples’ human rights, with a focus on themes like reconciliation.

We continue to send a print copy of Quaker Concern to more than 2,000 people in Canada and 18 other countries. We have now added a website quakerconcern.ca to help share Quaker Concern with a wider audience.

It is fitting that the first issue of Quaker Concern on the new website features an article by Murray Thomson, who also had an article in Quaker Concern in 1976. It is a testament to Friends’ quiet and steady work for positive change. This work has achieved so much, yet it is fragile, and can easily be eroded as the conditions for just peace turn into conditions of injustice and war. So CFSC’s work remains important, and we thank everyone who has been a part of it.

Submitted by Matthew Legge in his role as Communications Coordinator for CFSC.

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