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In the Beginning

PWRDF’s story starts in Springhill, Nova Scotia in 1958


A bump in a coal mine in Springhill, Nova Scotia kills 75 men. The tragedy moves Anglicans and other Canadians to respond with assistance for the stricken families. As a result of this experience, the Church recognizes the need for an efficient process to channel assistance quickly in situations of emergency. One year later, The Primate’s World Relief Fund was established by the Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod, named for the Primate, or Archbishop of Canada.


The organization becomes The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund reflecting the agency’s maturing program focus and philosophy. PWRDF comes to see that deeper, long-term development needs are strongly connected to suffering caused by natural or human-provoked disasters. Even more significantly, PWRDF realizes that people who experience these problems first-hand are in the best position to develop long-term solutions.


PWRDF moves commits to addressing long-term development needs and to working in partnership with local communities and organizations. During this decade, PWRDF also recognizes the need to engage Canadians in the issues of tackling injustice. General Synod gives PWRDF the responsibility of coordinating a development education program for the whole Church in order to close the gap between donors and recipients.


PWRDF becomes very active in working with refugees and in 1984 the Refugee Subcommittee and the Refugee Coordinators Network were both established. PWRDF builds 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 mandates a national Youth Initiative to engage young Canadians on social justice issues leading to the formation of the PWRDF Youth Council and the justgeneration. This movement is led by a group of youth and young adults representing ecclesiastical provinces of the Anglican Church of Canada, as well as ecumenical partner organizations. Their role is to connect the work of PWRDF with youth and young adults in communities across the country. Recognizing the power of youth to create positive social change, the Youth Council seeks to develop opportunities for young people to engage with issues of justice – both nationally and internationally – in ways that resonate with our identity as Christians.


With support from The Anglican Church of Canada, PWRDF becomes 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.


PWRDF joins the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a Christian response to hunger linking 15 churches in Canada.


PWRDF becomes a founding member of the Anglican Alliance. As part of the 50th anniversary, PWRDF encourages Sponsorship Agreement Holder dioceses to sponsor 50 refugees.


PWRDF marks 60 years of supporting people, partners and progress.