Campaign to restore KAIROS funding gains momentum

With letters, fundraising concerts, and MP meetings, Canadians are ramping up support for KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, which was denied its traditional funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) on Nov. 30.

Mary Corkery, KAIROS’s executive director, said she is seeing “greater momentum” from the supportive NGO and church community since the fall decision. “People do understand that social justice is a fundamental expression of who we are as Christians,” she said.

KAIROS is a social justice coalition representing eleven church organizations and churches, including the Anglican Church of Canada. Its work covers advocacy, research, and education in Canada and overseas on issues that include human rights, the environment, ecological justice, and economic justice. For example, in Canada, KAIROS advocates for Indigenous rights. In Colombia, it supports partners that work against militarization.

CIDA has funded KAIROS for 35 years but denied the coalition’s most recent funding proposal, stating that it no longer fits CIDA priorities. This decision came as a shock. KAIROS had just received a positive evaluation for its last funding period, and says it was told by CIDA officials that this next proposal-requesting $7 million between 2009 and 2013-was on track to being accepted. CIDA funds would cover around half of KAIROS’s total budget for those years.

Since then, KAIROS has worked to restore relations with CIDA. In December, KAIROS representatives met with Bev Oda, Minister of International Cooperation, but so far KAIROS has not seen new guidelines that would help them reapply for CIDA funding. Ms. Corkery indicated that KAIROS is working to organize a dialogue between church leaders and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“This issue is about international funding more broadly,” notes Ms. Corkery. “The NGO community has been especially engaged, and this loss of funding has set up discussions within the community.”Recently KAIROS and 82 other civil society groups wrote to Minister Oda about the need for a rejuvenated, responsive program at CIDA.

In the meantime, the campaign continues and more people learn about KAIROS. Jennifer Henry, KAIROS manager, rights and dignity team, notes that their Facebook group grew from 200 to almost 1500 as a result of this campaign. “These are people who want to stay connected,” she said. “Some are church people who have rediscovered this ministry of their church.”

Canadian Anglicans have certainly responded with passionate support of KAIROS. The House of Bishops and the Council of General Synod passed resolutions deploring CIDA’s actions, and across Canada, hundreds of Anglicans have met with their MPs, written letters, and spread the news.

“Thank you for your support,” said Ms. Corkery. “The Anglican community has been wonderful. I would ask for the continuation of your creative and solid efforts.”

Interested in adding to the momentum? KAIROS has listed seven easy ways to support the coalition, from signing petitions to media monitoring. You can send in photos of your group with an “I stand with KAIROS” sign, and keep up with the news through Facebook or their email newsletter, KAIROS Times. KAIROS also welcomes donations to their ongoing work, which includes a Carbon fast for Lent and action to support Haiti.

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