KAIROS reapplies for CIDA funding

  • April 29, 2010
Mary CorkeryWith a $100,000 lifeline from the United Church of Canada, Canada’s ecumenical justice coalition KAIROS has until fall to either restart its international programs with new federal funding or reshape itself as a smaller, more domestically focussed organization.

KAIROS has reapplied to the Canadian International Development Agency to restore some of the funding that was cut off Nov. 30. At the time CIDA officials claimed KAIROS’ regular five-year funding agreement was rejected because the church-based group’s international program no longer fit CIDA priorities. However, Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney told a conference in Jerusalem his government had cut KAIROS funding because it supported anti-Semitism.

KAIROS previously used CIDA funding in the Middle East to support a women’s group that engages in Muslim-Jewish dialogue and a program of Bible study and lectures on non-violence run by the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem.

To avoid ideological controversy with the government, KAIROS’ new application for funding excludes its programs in the Middle East, said executive director Mary Corkery. The new KAIROS application to CIDA asks for $7.9 million over five years, 14-per-cent less than the 2009 request for $9.2 million.

“The government’s position on the Middle East is very different than what the government position used to be,” said Corkery.

Meanwhile, support from individual donors across the country has increased in the wake of the clash with Kenney and CIDA Minister Bev Oda, Corkery said.

“There is a constituency that knows what we’re doing and support it,” she said.

While there have been no reductions in hours or layoffs at KAIROS’ Toronto offices so far, without new CIDA funding layoffs are probable this fall.

“If we don’t get CIDA funding it is likely there will be repercussions,” said Corkery.

The people who have suffered the most from the funding cut have been KAIROS’ partners in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, according to Corkery. Without funding, KAIROS will replace funding partnerships with “solidarity partnerships,” meaning that the Canadian ecumenical agency will promote the causes of its partner organizations in Canada and at international meetings.

Meanwhile, KAIROS has appointed a new executive committee of its board of directors. Rev. Paul Gehrs from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is chair. Congregation of St. Joseph Sister Sue Wilson is vice-chair, representing the Canadian Religious Conference. From the Presbyterians, Stephen Allen is secretary of the board.  The treasurer, Rev. Gordon Haynes, is also from the Presbyterian Church. Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace executive director Michael Casey fills the member-at-large position.

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