Former governor general named patron for PWRDF’s refugee sponsorship project

Published October 5, 2009

Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson is a cradle Anglican.

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has a new high profile patron for its initiative to sponsor 50 refugee families during its 50th anniversary celebrations: former governor general Adrienne Clarkson.

Clarkson, who is Anglican, is an ideal patron because she herself came to Canada as a refugee.

“It is important for people to realize that Canada has always been a welcoming country. I feel particularly strongly about this having been a refugee myself, arriving in Canada at age three in 1942 in the middle of the Second World War with one suitcase for each one of us – my mother, father, brother and I,” said Clarkson in a press release from PWRDF. “We will never forget how we were taken in by different people who became friends and also the friends that we made through the neighborhood and our first church which was Christ Church Cathedral. As a Canadian, I can’t think of more useful work joining our religious commitment to our duties as citizens than being a part of a settlement program for specific refugee families.”

Following her term as governor general, Clarkson and her husband John Ralston Saul established the non-profit Institute for Canadian Citizenship to promote understanding between new and established Canadians and of the values associated with Canadian citizenship.

She heard about the sponsorship project when she met with Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada. Clarkson will also be the key note speaker for a PWRDF 50th anniversary celebration being held in Toronto in late October.

Carolyn Vanderlip, PWRDF’s 50th anniversary facilitator, said that the organization is almost halfway to its goal of sponsoring 50 families. So far, 10 families have arrived in the country from countries including Colombia, Burma, Eritrea, Sudan and Sri Lanka. Some of the cities they have settled in are Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver, and smaller centres such as Kaslo, B.C. and Leamington, Simcoe and Brantford in Ontario. More families are in the process of coming to Canada.

“Hospitality is a key spiritual gift needed for a successful refugee sponsorship experience. Refugees and their Anglican sponsors are part of a truly transformative and life-giving experience. Madame Clarkson’s role as patron for this special initiative attests to the dignity of refugees and the life-changing power of refugee sponsorship,” said PWRDF executive director Cheryl Curtis.


  • Leigh Anne Williams

    Leigh Anne Williams joined the Anglican Journal in 2008 as a part-time staff writer. She also works as the Canadian correspondent for Publishers Weekly, a New York-based trade magazine for the book publishing. Prior to this, Williams worked as a reporter for the Canadian bureau of TIME Magazine, news editor of Quill & Quire, and a copy editor at The Halifax Herald, The Globe and Mail and The Bay Street Bull.

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