The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund came into existence as a result of a terrible human tragedy in Canadian history. In 1958, in Springhill, Nova Scotia, there was an underground explosion in a coal mine, 174 men were in the mine when it collapsed, and 75 died as a result of the disaster. The tragedy moved Anglicans and other Canadians to respond with assistance for the stricken families. As a result of this experience, the church recognized the need for an efficient process to channel assistance quickly in situations of emergency.
In 1959, The Primate’s World Relief Fund was established by the General Synod. In 1969, the name of the organization was officially changed to The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund which reflected the agency’s maturing program focus and philosophy. PWRDF came to see that much deeper, long-term development needs were strongly connected to most of the suffering caused by natural or human-provoked disasters. Even more significantly, PWRDF realized that people who experienced these problems first-hand were in the best position to develop long-term solutions.
The newly renamed Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund moved in the 1970s with a commitment to addressing long-term development needs and to working in partnership with local communities and organizations. During this decade, PWRDF also became more active in public engagement. The Fund recognized the need to engage Canadians in the issues of tackling injustice. The General Synod gave PWRDF the responsibility of coordinating a development education program for the whole Church in order to close the gap between donors and recipients.
In the 1980s, PWRDF became very active in working with refugees and in 1984 the Refugee Subcommittee and the Refugee Coordinators Network were both established. PWRDF has built a strong program for the support and advocacy of uprooted peoples, including refugees, internally displaced populations and migrant workers, internationally through relief and development programs, advocacy, and monitoring of human rights, and in Canada through networking, and education.
PWRDF has continued to grow and build a strong programs and global partnerships. In 1999, PWRDF mandated a national Youth Initiative to engage young Canadians on social justice issues.
In the year 2000, with support from The Anglican Church of Canada, PWRDF became a separately incorporated agency with recognition and approval of the Canadian federal government under the title: The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund/ Le fonds du Primat pour le secours et le développment mondial”. PWRDF’s guiding principle is to listen and learn from partners in its development work. It remains a Christian organization, committed to a vision of international development and global justice that is founded on theological reflection and a faith-based analysis.