When I arrived in Toronto in 1983, Gerald Vandezande was a well-known Christian leader and social advocate. He had launched and championed the Christian Labour Association of Canada and was instrumental in the development and ministry of Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ).
Since 1963 CPJ has been speaking out for public justice across Canada. They have promoted a Christian view of the government, worked to create a moratorium on the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, and have spoken to issues from social policy, to recycling, tax reform, child poverty, First Nations’ rights, refugees and the environment.
The Christian justice movement in Canada stands on Gerald’s shoulders. All across this nation, people involved in community development, social advocacy and human rights initiatives – many who have never heard Gerry’s name – are nonetheless deeply indebted to his foundational justice work that has shaped our lives and ministries.
When I was a younger leader he never missed a chance to praise and encourage me in my work. He supported the initiatives of many young leaders including the Street Level movement to bring young justice workers together for mutual support and training. We knew he was a big deal, but he acted like we were the big deal. He always insisted I should write: finally, here in this blog, I am attempting to comply.
Gerald passed away in 2011 and I still would be hard pressed to find a compassionate or justice oriented leader who is not in his debt. Gerald, thank you for showing us the way to be Christians committed to the rights and well-being of all.
Read more about CPJ here. http://www.cpj.ca/
Originally part of blog post