by Bruce Gunderson
St. Peter's Parish P.W.R.D.F. Representative

When disasters like the recent earthquakes in Nepal capture the world’s attention, relief organizations like the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) are on site in short order to assist. But have you ever wondered where this organization came from? And what exactly does it do when there are no large-scale disasters that require its assistance?

PWRDF is the Canadian Anglican response for emergency relief, development and justice. PWRDF came into existence in the late 1950s because of a disaster at a coal mine in Nova Scotia where 75 people lost their lives. This tragedy moved Anglicans and other Canadians to respond with assistance for the stricken families. The church recognized a need for an efficient process to channel assistance quickly in emergency situations. From this the Primate’s World Relief was established in 1959.

In the late 1960s, the name was officially changed to the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund to reflect the agency’s maturing program, focus and philosophy. PWRDF came to see that much deeper, long-term development needs were strongly connected to most of the suffering caused by natural or human provoked disasters. More significantly, PWRDF realized the people who experienced these problems first hand were in the best position to develop long-term solutions.

PWRDF moved into the 1970s with a commitment to addressing long-term development needs. They were also committed to working in partnership with local communities and organizations. PWRDF became more active in public engagement and recognized the need to engage Canadians in tackling injustice.

The 1980s saw PWRDF working actively with refugees by establishing the Refugee Sub-committee and the Refugee Co-ordinator network. The 1990s saw PWRDF continuing to grow while building strong programs and global partnerships. In 1999, PWRDF mandated a National Youth Initiative to engage young Canadians in social justice issues.

In 2000, PWRDF became a separately incorporated agency with support from the Anglican Church of Canada and the recognition and approval of the federal government of Canada.

PWRDF works with a variety of other agencies to fulfill its mission. While it is an Anglican organization, it works with many ecumenical and secular groups to help bring about a truly just and peaceful world.

In addition to providing disaster relief in Nepal, here are some other areas where PWRDF has been involved lately:

  • Bicycle Ambulance program- Mozambique
  • School Feeding Program- Haiti
  • Disaster relief- Tropical Cyclone Pamela in Vanuatu, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
  • Water Project- Pikangikum First nation, Northwest Ontario

PWRDF’s guiding principle is to listen and learn from its partners in its development work. It remains a Christian organization committed to a vision of international development and global justice.

Much of this information was taken from the PWRDF website, . Please visit the website for more information about PWRDF and how you can help.