Keeping up with Friends

CFSC welcomes Verena Tan
We’re pleased to welcome Verena Tan as the new program coordinator for CFSC’s criminal justice work! Verena has a lot of experience in working with people who have been harmed by the current system. During the course of her law degree in Australia, Verena worked in grassroots defence of Indigenous people. After completing her degree, she spent some time in Louisiana, where she acted as a volunteer lawyer, providing legal counsel and assistance to prisoners on death row. Back in Australia, Verena continued her work with marginalised people who have difficulty accessing legal help, while working for Victoria Legal Aid. She has also been involved in providing input to the Australian government on the criminal justice system around issues including mental illness, rights for prisoners, and discrimination. Verena will be working for CFSC part-time while completing a Masters in Social Justice Education. You can contact her at
Truth and Reconciliation: Quakers in Action
A new resource aims to help us engage in the hard work of reconciliation. The resource offers queries for reflection, explains what Friends are doing across Canada, and explores truth-telling about colonial legacies, Indigenous Peoples’ right to consent, and the question of whether or not Canada is guilty of genocide. At just 27 pages, this resource is accessible, while also being full of worthwhile information. It is available for free download (13 mb PDF) at and we also have print copies (please contact us).
Two prison farms set to reopen
An analysis found that Canada’s prison farms:

  • Provide much needed rehabilitation programs: animal therapy, productive labour and physical exercise, working collaboratively with others, and training in farm management and operation;
  • Have been proven to prevent re-offending and increase employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated persons; and
  • Could offset the cost of food contracts within correctional facilities.

CFSC is pleased that the government of Canada included funding in the recent budget to re-open two farms in Kingston, Ontario (at Joyceville and Collins Bay Institutions). This is an issue Friends have been tracking for years, including sending information to government, and helping to fund a documentary about the value of these farms.
CFSC expresses concern with killing of protesters
On Friday March 30 crowds gathered at the border fence separating Israel and Gaza. Smaller groups of protesters rushed forward throwing stones and burning tires. In response, the Israeli Defence Forces fired upon the marchers. At present count, 31 Palestinians have been killed in this and subsequent similar incidents. Well over 1,000 have been recovering from wounds. CFSC has written to Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland calling on Canada to condemn the use of lethal force against protesters, to champion an independent inquiry into what happened, and to assess the general methods of crowd control used by the Israeli military.
As reported in the Summer 2016 issue of Quaker Concern, we are deeply concerned by the apparent situation of Israel employing crowd control methods that systematically violate human rights, and exporting such methods to Canada through military and law enforcement trainings. We are further concerned that Canada sells weapons to Israel. Weapons made in Canada may well be used in rights abuses, and in killing unarmed civilians. As such, we repeated our urgent calls for Canada, as it accedes to the Arms Trade Treaty, to cease selling weapons to human rights abusers. Read the letter at: