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Authority record
Mennonite Central Committee Archives

MCC Canada Eastern Canada Programs

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1972 -

MCC Canada’s Eastern Canada Programs began in 1963 when the MCC office based in Akron, Pennsylvania, began transferring responsibility for their Newfoundland and Quebec programs to the newly established MCC Canada. MCC had been sending Voluntary Service workers to Quebec since the 1950s and to Newfoundland as teachers and nurses since 1954. The Newfoundland and Quebec programs continued to be administered from Akron until they were taken on completely by the MCC Canada Executive Office and run through its Voluntary Service program in the early 1970s.

In 1972, the Newfoundland Program appointed its first resident director on a one-year Voluntary Service basis, thus becoming the first of MCC Canada’s Eastern Canada Programs. In 1982, in response to an increased desire for more MCC Canada programming in the other Atlantic provinces, MCC Canada established the Maritimes Program with an office in New Brunswick. There was also a steady increase in funding along with the number of Voluntary Service workers being sent to Quebec programs throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Since 1982, MCC Canada’s National Program Department has taken on greater responsibility for the Eastern Canada Programs in Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Maritimes. In 1987, the Quebec Program also became an official Eastern Canada Program. In 2019, MCC Canada closed its Newfoundland and Labrador Program, leaving the Quebec Program and Maritimes Program as the only remaining Eastern Canada Programs.

MCC Canada Economic Justice Program

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1986-2007

The MCC Canada Economic Justice Program began in 1986 under the name Employment Concerns. The proposed program had been under discussion within MCC Canada since 1983 when a major recession caused high levels of unemployment among Canadians.

The Economic Concerns program was initiated to provide leadership in the development of a theology of work and to encourage awareness and education about employment concerns within the MCC constituency. Job creation initiatives were undertaken in consultation and cooperation with provincial MCC offices; MCC Canada’s role in the program was to facilitate and coordinate economic efforts. Projects were initiated through consultation with businesspeople, conference groups, and agencies. The program emphasized cooperation with groups and fostering local ownership of projects.

One of the first major projects supported by the program was the founding of the Edmonton Recycling Society, a non-profit agency which collected recyclables from households in Edmonton. The agency employed ninety people, fifteen of whom had disabilities. Other job creation initiatives supported by the program included a landscaping project, several housing-renovation projects, and a venture in forestry management. By 1992, the program had created 500 long-term and 300 short-term jobs and provided job training for 500 more.

While the program was active, it was called Employment Concerns (1986-1992), Employment Development (1992-ca.1997) and finally Economic Justice (ca.1997-2007). Although the Economic Justice program was discontinued in 2007, many of its functions and activities continue through initiatives and programs at the provincial MCC level.

MCC Canada Executive Office

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1963 -

MCC Canada’s Executive Office was established when MCC Canada began in 1963. Since then, the Executive Office has been mandated to supervise all MCC Canada departments and to work together with the provincial MCCs. In January 1964, J.M. Klassen, MCC Canada’s first Executive Director, established operations of MCC Canada at 104 Princess Street in Winnipeg. The MCC Canada Executive Committee met at the office four times annually and played an important role in shaping the organization in its early years. The Executive Committee was elected by and from the board of MCC Canada; the board consisted of an official representative for each of the five provincial MCCs, four members at large, a representative from MCC in Akron, and representatives from each of the participating conferences/groups that “owned” MCC Canada.

In 1992, the Red River Accord was signed by MCC Canada and the provincial MCCs; it provided clarity concerning MCC program priorities in Canada and established an agreement for revenue sharing between MCC Canada and provincial MCCs. Greater member representation was granted to the provincial MCCs on the MCC Canada Board and Executive Committee, with the intention of encouraging greater cooperation between all MCC entities in Canada.

In the years 2008-2012, extensive structural changes occurred across MCC as a result of the New Wine/New Wineskins process. While MCC Canada’s Executive Office maintained its supervisory position within MCC Canada’s organizational structure, increased cooperation with the provincial MCCs and MCC U.S. was required in some departments after 2012.

MCC Canada Indigenous Neighbours Program

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1974 -

The work of MCC Canada’s Indigenous Neighbours program began in 1974 with the creation of the Native Concerns program. The mandate of the program was to aid and advocate on behalf of Indigenous people and communities in Canada.

Before the program’s official beginnings, MCC had been involved with Indigenous people and communities through membership in ecumenical organizations and MCC Voluntary Service placements. The establishment of the Native Concerns program in 1974 increased MCC Canada’s involvement with Indigenous communities considerably. MCC Canada’s Voluntary Service workers implemented Native Concerns programming in Indigenous Communities, an emphasis on resource development grew through wildlife management, animal husbandry, and gardening programs, and efforts were made to encourage local industries that benefited Indigenous groups.

In 1991, Menno Wiebe, long-time director of the program, proposed that MCC Canada should extend an official apology to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. This proposal emerged after twenty-plus years of MCC work alongside Indigenous communities through the Native Concerns program and its various activities. The official apology was given at MCC Canada’s annual meeting of 1992; it recognized the colonial legacy of Mennonite settlement in Canada and expressed MCC Canada’s intention to work towards reconciliation. A shift in the mandate of the program followed; greater emphasis was given to justice advocacy in areas of treaty rights, resource rights, and land use, and a commitment to collaborate with Indigenous partners was made.

The originally titled Native Concerns program has also been called Native Issues (1997), Aboriginal Neighbours (1998-2007), Work with Aboriginal People (2007-2008), Work with Indigenous People (2008-2011), and has been called the Indigenous Neighbours program since 2012. MCC Canada’s Indigenous Neighbour’s program continues together with the programs of provincial MCC’s through the Indigenous Neighbours Network. The network strives to build respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and collaborates with Indigenous partners to advocate for positive political, social, and economic change for Indigenous Peoples.

MCC Canada Maritimes Program

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1982 -

MCC Canada’s Maritimes Program began in 1982 when a new Maritimes regional office was established separately from the Newfoundland and Labrador office. This new office provided support for Voluntary Service workers in Atlantic provinces other than Newfoundland and Labrador since, by the late 1970s, there was growing interest in expanding Voluntary Service opportunities beyond Newfoundland and Labrador into the other Atlantic Provinces. The first Maritimes Program office was opened in Sussex, New Brunswick, in 1982, and was moved to Petitcodiac, New Brunswick in 1989. The Maritimes Program office ran programs in Saint John, Fredericton, Minto, Sussex, Petitcodiac, and Moncton, in New Brunswick; Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island; and Truro, Halifax, and Sydney in Nova Scotia. In 2000, the office was moved to a more central location in Moncton which allowed staff to connect more easily across the Maritimes.

Throughout its history, the Maritimes Program relied heavily upon MCC Voluntary Service workers to fulfill its activities in the region. The Maritimes Program introduced and implemented MCC Canada programming in the Maritimes including the Handicap Concerns, Employment Concerns, Restorative Justice, and Indigenous Neighbours programs, as well as other programs that respond to relevant social issues. The office has also partnered with local organizations that share MCC Canada’s priorities.

MCC Canada’s National Program Department supervises MCC programs in Eastern Canada through the work of a regional representative.

MCC Canada Mental Health and Disabilities Program

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1992-2006

Before the development of an MCC Canada program concerned with Mental Health or Disabilities, MCC worked with and advocated for the well-being of people with mental and physical disabilities through its Voluntary Service program. MCC Voluntary Service workers were placed in homes for children and adults with disabilities throughout Canada even before MCC Canada had been established.

MCC Canada developed a Handicap Concerns Program in 1983 and a Mental Health program in 1985. In 1992, the Handicap Concerns and Mental Health programs amalgamated to create the Mental Health and Disabilities program within MCC Canada’s National Program Department. The new program took on the mandates of both previous programs and continued the work of creating support groups, providing education, and advocating on behalf of individuals with disabilities and mental health concerns.

The program was restructured in 2001; a program coordinator was appointed to oversee a Mental Health and Disabilities Network and to collaborate with provincial MCC’s to carry out the work of the program. The network dissolved in 2006 when the position of Mental Health and Disabilities national program coordinator was not replaced.

MCC Canada Mental Health Program

  • MCC
  • Corporate body
  • 1986-1992

Before the development of an MCC Canada Program concerned with Mental Health or Disabilities, MCC worked with and advocated for the well-being of people with mental and physical disabilities through its Voluntary Service program.

In 1982, the Council of Moderators and Secretaries called for MCC to recognize mental health as a legitimate agenda for MCC. In response, MCC Canada appointed a Mental Health Advisory Committee in 1985. As a result of the work of the committee, MCC Canada established the Mental Health Program in 1986. The goal of the program was to build practical support and understanding for people with mental illness within Mennonite churches and to create a network of mental health professionals within these communities.

In 1992, the Mental Health program and MCC Canada’s Handicap Concerns program amalgamated to create the Mental Health and Disabilities program within MCC Canada’s National Program Department. The new program took on the mandates of both previous programs, continuing the work of both under one new entity.

MCC Canada Migration and Resettlement Program

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1979 -

MCC Canada’s Migration and Resettlement Program was established in 1979 in response to calls from Canadian Mennonite and Brethren in Christ congregations to provide ways to help resettle Southeast Asian refugees in Canada. MCC Canada negotiated a two-year agreement with the Canadian government to create the private refugee sponsorship program – the first organization to establish such an agreement. While MCC Canada had a coordinating role to play, most of the work of welcoming refugees was split between each provincial MCC and the Canadian government; congregations were responsible for meeting the refugees upon their arrival in Canada, helping them settle, and providing them with financial assistance for up to one year while the government paid for healthcare costs, language training, employment services, and interest free loans for transportation to Canada. The sponsorship program proved to be so successful that MCC Canada and the Canadian government agreed to renew the agreement after the initial two-year period.

The Migration and Resettlement Program reported to MCC Binational’s Coordinator of Overseas Services until 1995 when it became part of MCC Canada’s National Program Department. The program went through several name changes: Refugee Concerns (1981-1985, 1988-1997), Refugee Sponsorship/Resettlement (1986), Refugees and Immigration (1987), Refugee Assistance (1997-2014), and Migration and Resettlement (2014-). While carrying out its own program activities, MCC Canada’s Migration and Resettlement Program also works closely with provincial MCC refugee assistance programs across Canada.

MCC Canada National Program Department

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1981 -

A National Program Department under MCC Canada was not officially established until 1981. Before this time, all Canadian domestic programs reported directly to the MCC Executive office. Early programs under MCC Canada began in the 1960s when responsibility for the Summer Service and Voluntary Service Programs already in Canada was transferred from the MCC office in the U.S. and a Peace and Social Concerns Committee was formed. Between 1974 and 1980, initiatives by MCC Canada to establish domestic programs included the development of a Native Concerns portfolio (1974), the Ottawa Office (1975), the Offender Ministries Program (1976), the first SALT program in Canada (1977), a position to oversee Development Education (1975), the Kanadier Committee (1975), early Refugee and Immigration initiatives (1979), and the establishment of a Handicap Concerns office (1980).

By 1981, the growing number of Canadian domestic programs had become too extensive for the Executive Office to administer. This led to the restructuring of MCC Canada’s Executive Office and the creation of three new senior coordinator positions: Personnel and Administrative Services Coordinator, Overseas Program Coordinator, and Canadian Programs Coordinator. In 1981, the first Canadian Programs Coordinator was hired and a Women’s Concerns portfolio, Service Education program, Canadian Mental Health program, Employment Concerns portfolio, and AIDS task group were added to the list of Canadian programs under the new Canadian Programs Department. By 1990, the Canadian Programs Department was comprised of eight main programs: Voluntary Service, Peace and Social Concerns, Native Concerns, Women’s Concerns, Mental Health Program, Victim Offender Ministries, Handicap Concerns, and Employment Concerns.

In 1996, after a decade-long period of rapid growth in domestic programs, a proposal for the reorganization of MCC Canada’s National Program Department was made. The structure and content of the Department were reconfigured, and the department was renamed twice; it was called the Peace and Development Department until 1998 and then the Peace and Justice Department until the early 2000’s. The department’s function during this time was to deliver domestic programming in three areas: The Peace Office, the Justice Program (consisting of Native Issues, Economic Justice, Restorative Justice, and Refugee Assistance programs), and the Constituency Program (consisting of the Mental Health and Disabilities program and Women’s Concerns network). During this period of restructuring, responsibility for MCC Canada's domestic programs was decentralized and began to shift over to the provincial MCC offices.

During the 2000’s, the department was referred to as the Canadian Programs Department or the National Program Department (predominant 2004-2009), sometimes interchangeably. Eastern Canada programs were added to the department and many of the existing Canadian programs were restructured, combined, renamed, or discontinued.

In 2012, MCC Canada's National Program Department was moved under the larger “MCC Program” umbrella. The National Program Department works to represent MCC at a national level, networks and resources the provincial MCC's to carry out Indigenous Neighbours, Migration and Resettlement, Restorative Justice, and Low-German programming, and continues to be responsible for the delivery of programs in Eastern Canada.

MCC Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Program

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1963-2019

MCC Canada’s Newfoundland and Labrador Program began in 1963 when the MCC office based in Akron, Pennsylvania, began transferring responsibility for MCC work in Newfoundland (along with all other Voluntary Service programs in Canada) to the newly established MCC Canada. MCC had been sending Voluntary Service workers to Newfoundland as teachers and nurses since 1954. The Newfoundland Program continued to be administered from Akron until it was taken on by the MCC Canada Executive Office and run through its Voluntary Service program in the early 1970s.

In 1972, the Newfoundland Program was appointed its first resident director on a one-year Voluntary Service basis. The program director provided supervision and assistance to MCC Voluntary Service workers in Newfoundland and Labrador who were teachers and nurses. In 1975, the program began sending Voluntary Service workers to work with the Innu communities on the Labrador coast.

In 1982, when the Maritimes Program separated from the Newfoundland and Labrador Program, the Canadian Programs department took more control of MCC programs in Eastern Canada through the work of a regional director in the province. The program maintained its strong ties with the Voluntary Service department with Voluntary Service placements forming the foundation of programming in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Newfoundland and Labrador Program ended in 2019.

MCC Canada Ottawa Office

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1975 -

MCC Canada’s Ottawa Office was established in 1975. MCC Canada began discussing establishing a “listening post”, modelled after the MCC office in Washington, D.C., in Ottawa in the mid-1960s. Many Mennonites were against active political involvement in Canada, while supporters of the Ottawa Office argued that the Office’s primary function would be to monitor and interpret Canadian government policy to constituents and would address the government only when there was reasonable agreement among Mennonite communities. MCC Canada’s Executive Committee was eventually persuaded, and the Ottawa Office was opened in the nation’s capital in 1975.

By the 1980s and 1990s, the Ottawa Office had addressed a wide range of issues including capital punishment, nuclear weapons, immigration and refugee regulations, and government foreign policy on behalf of the wider Mennonite community. The Office’s communications and interactions with government officials and education of the Canadian Mennonite community were guided and informed by Anabaptist history, theology, scripture, and MCC’s worldwide experience. Questions concerning the relationship between church and state in light of Anabaptist theology were also researched by the Office. The Office has published articles in the Ottawa Notebook (an internal office publication), various Mennonite periodicals, and submitted articles to the Mennonite Reporter, The Mennonite Brethren Herald, The Canadian Mennonite, and The Mennonite.

The Ottawa Office continues to facilitate policy advocacy on behalf of MCC partners, educates constituents about government policy, and encourages constituents to also engage in advocacy.

MCC Canada Peace and Social Concerns Program

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1974 - 2012

The work of the Peace and Social Concerns Program began in 1964 with the temporary MCC Binational Peace and Social Concerns Committee (briefly known as the Peace Committee), which was made up of Canadian and American members and based in Akron, PA. Its mandate included peace education, peace witness, labour relations, identifying social concerns, government contact, and informing youth of alternatives to military service. In 1967, the committee hired its first part-time staff person and began to pursue a more active agenda of nonresistance and peacemaking.

In 1974, a Canadian Peace and Social Concerns Committee became independent of the MCC Binational Peace Section, and in 1975 the Committee expanded to include one member from each of the five provincial MCCs. In 1976, a full-time director of MCC Canada’s Peace and Social Concerns was appointed. Over time, new social concerns were identified and adopted as focus areas for the committee’s mandate; these included Native concerns, lobbying through the Ottawa Office, and women’s concerns. Peace education remained the central mandate of the committee.

In the early 1980s, establishment an official MCC Canada department for national programming was underway. Until this time, the Peace and Social Concerns Committee had been an independent department that reported directly to the Executive Office. In 1981 the committee was renamed the Peace and Social Concerns Program and became responsible to the new National Program Department. This enabled it to initiate broader peace education and respond to new challenges surrounding peacemaking both at home and abroad.

From 1981 to 2012, the program remained a part of MCC Canada’s National Program Department as an official program under various names: Peace and Social Concerns (1981-1996), Peace Ministries (1997-2002), and Peace (2003-2012).

By the 2010s, MCC had begun to integrate peacebuilding activities into other program initiatives and the functions of the Peace program shifted towards advocacy work. In 2012, the Peace Program was succeeded by the Ottawa Office Public Engagement Program.

MCC Canada Quebec Program

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1987 -

MCC Canada’s Quebec Program was officially established in 1987. Even before its official creation as a program, MCC Canada had already established ties with the province. While Voluntary Service workers had been sent to Quebec since the 1950s, MCC Canada became more involved in Quebec in response to the FLQ crisis of 1970. Provincial MCC delegates called on MCC Canada to support the work of churches in Quebec, helping them to become agents of reconciliation between Quebeckers and other Canadians, especially in light of the rising Quebec separatist movement. MCC Voluntary Service workers were sent to the Dixville Home ministry in Dixville, Quebec at this time. In 1973, following consultation, MCC Canada agreed to subsidize a new major project in Quebec, known as the Montreal Project, steadily increasing MCC Canada’s role and presence in the province. The Montreal Project, which became known as the House of Friendship, was a joint project with the Ontario Board of Missions that offered programs for refugees and other immigrants to Montreal; programs were staffed by Voluntary Service workers and included daycare for preschoolers, clubs for boys and girls, coffeehouses and camping programs for youth, women’s meetings, seniors’ programs, and remedial education and language classes. MCC support for the House of Friendship increased in 1977.

In 1979, MCC Canada began exploring possibilities for additional programming in Eastern Canada which included deepening its commitment to Quebec programs. By the early 1980s, MCC Canada had nearly doubled its funding for programs in Eastern Canada. In 1984, greater administrative and programming responsibility was given to Quebec Mennonites at the House of Friendship and MCC Canada began looking for ways to broaden its presence in Quebec through other programs.

In 1987, MCC Canada established an official Quebec Program. The programs at the House of Friendship were expanded to include a camp for children and youth, summer service opportunities, and an expanded Voluntary Service program, encouraging cross-cultural efforts among Mennonites from across the country, and ministry to inmates and ex-inmates.

MCC Canada’s National Program Department is responsible for MCC programs in Eastern Canada through the work of a regional representative in the province.

MCC Canada Restorative Justice Program

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1975 -

MCC Canada’s Restorative Justice program began with the establishment of the Offender Ministries program in 1975. Leading up to this throughout the 1960s and 1970s, provincial MCCs initiated prison visitation ministries and other offender ministries programs, which were staffed by Voluntary Service workers. The M2 (Man to Man) and W2 (Woman to Woman) programs were among the earliest Canadian MCC programs that aimed to help offenders. Other experimental programs and projects based on the work of M2 and W2, such as the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP), were developed to reconcile victims of crime and offenders. These programs were precursors to MCC Canada’s Offender Ministries national program, which began in 1975. In 1981, the program became part of the National Program Department and in 1983 was renamed Victim Offender Ministries (VOM).

Throughout the 1990s, Victim Offender Ministries developed new and innovative ways of responding to the criminal justice system. Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) began in 1994 to help reintegrate released sex offenders into society. Another initiative called the Victims’ Voice Program began in 1996 and was intended to provide victims of violence with emotional support through a national network of victims committed to advocacy and social change.

Victim Offender Ministries contributed to changes within the criminal justice system in Canada in the first twenty years of the program. By 1996, federal and provincial correctional systems had begun to fund programs related to victim offender reconciliation, mediation, prison visitation, and victims’ advocacy. In response to its success and broadening vision, the program restructured in 1997; a Restorative Justice network made up of provincial MCC Restorative Justice programs including Victim Offender Reconciliation Programs, prison visitation ministries, and Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) was established. The MCC Canada Restorative Justice Program works collaboratively with the provincial MCC Restorative Justice programs through the Restorative Justice Network. Since ca. 2007, MCC Canada’s Restorative Justice Program has also worked within the Abuse Response and Prevention Network alongside the MCC abuse response and prevention programs run by MCC British Columbia and MCC Manitoba.

MCC Canada Victims’ Voice Program

  • Canada
  • Corporate body
  • 1998-2011

MCC Canada’s Victims’ Voice program began as an initiative of MCC Canada's Victim Offender Ministries program in 1998. Throughout the 1990s, Victim Offender Ministries had developed new and innovative ways of providing support to victims of crime; in 1996, it initiated a voluntary service assignment to create a network of victims committed to restorative justice principles, working together on issues of self-help and healing, advocacy, and social and legal change. In 1998, this new initiative became known as the Victims’ Voice Program. Its mandate was to give victim-centred, emotional support programming to victims of violence while building a national network of victims committed to advocacy and social change. The program was guided by restorative justice principles, and allowed people to work together on issues of self-help, healing and advocacy.

The Victims’ Voice program attracted significant attention from government officials, community organizations, and churches. Responding to invitations from legislators, justice and corrections officials, community organizations, and churches, the program coordinator traveled across Canada presenting a victim’s perspective on criminal and restorative justice. Victims’ Voice also worked with other MCC Canada Restorative Justice programs and MCC-related agencies including prison visitation ministries, victim offender reconciliation programs, and conflict resolution agencies across Canada. A significant activity undertaken by Victims’ Voice during its mandate was its publication of the newsletter, Pathways. The newsletter's target audience included family survivors of homicide and aimed to create and maintain a support network for them. The program also published a blog titled Lemonaide, which by 2010 reported heavy user interaction.

Ca. 2000, Victims’ Voice became an autonomous program within MCC Canada’s National Program Department, acting independently of the Restorative Justice Program. The program coordinated its own activities and initiatives during this time, which included the Victim’s Companion Program and the Safe Justice Encounters Program. The Victims' Voice program also served an advisory role for various victim advocacy and justice organizations.

The Victims’ Voice program ended in 2011 when the Program Coordinator position was vacated. Although the program ended, MCC Canada continued its activities of supporting victims within the Restorative Justice program with the intention that future support would be managed through grants and new initiatives within that program.

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