PWRDF names refugee advocate as first president

The incorporated Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund has named an advocate for refugees as president of its board of directors. Janet Dench, head of the Canadian Council for Refugees, is a former member of the primate’s fund committee, when PWRDF was still a department of Anglican Church of Canada. She is now faced with the challenge of heading the board of directors of a not-for-profit corporation.

PWRDF incorporated in 2000 but held off its first annual general meeting as long as possible. The new board of directors and members met in early November at a resort north of Toronto, on the shores of Lake Simcoe.

The meeting gathered the corporation’s new board, one representative from each of Canada’s 30 dioceses (who make up the corporation’s voting members) and 12 youth delegates.

The primate’s fund incorporated May 30, 2000 and registered as a charitable organization effective Sept. 1, 2000. The national church’s relief and development arm sought incorporation to protect its donations, said PWRDF director Andrew Ignatieff, who describes the change as a financial and legal procedure that needed to happen.

“We were a department of General Synod with a somewhat different structure,” explained Mr. Ignatieff in an interview. “People have always donated specifically to the Primate’s Fund, ever since it was founded.”

For that reason, he said, “In October, 1999 it was recommended to us, by the lawyers, that we seek incorporation as a means of guaranteeing the intent of all future donations and contributions.”

Mr. Ignatieff is encouraged that its donations appear to be increasing slightly even in a time of transition for the church, as it faces uncertainty about its future due to residential school litigation.

PWRDF donations totalled $1.384 million by Sept. 30, 2001. Financial manager Jill Martin said this is “good for this time of year.” Donations to special appeals were particularly successful in early 2001. The bulk of the primate’s fund donations usually come at the end of the calendar year. Donations in 2000 totalled $3,094,992.

Though it is more than a year since the incorporation, PWRDF waited before holding its first meeting “to give the organization time to evolve;” the delay also gave staff time to concentrate on new administrative and structural concerns arising from the incorporation.

As significant as the incorporation was, Mr. Ignatieff said, it was surprising how smoothly the first meeting went.

The gathering clarified for members and the board the so-called “strategic themes” by which the primate’s fund carries out its work:

  • weaving a culture of peace and justice;
  • building a moral economy;
  • accompanying communities in crisis.

Those themes, explained Mr. Ignatieff, are the basis for how PWRDF staff organize their work, how they deliver their programs and how they work in partnership with other countries. In explaining the themes to the gathering, staff used case studies of sample projects to demonstrate how they suit the strategic themes.

The gathering, which featured a presentation by Toronto’s A.J. Finlay on her April visit to war-torn Sudan, also acknowledged its first honourary members, the Three Cantors. The honourary membership is awarded to those making a significant contribution to the Primate’s Fund; the Three Cantors – three priests from southern Ontario plus an accompanist – have been performing for PWRDF’s benefit since 1997.

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