ByMay 27, 2004
A 40th Anniversary Reflection by Marilyn Gunn, Executive Director of Calgary Community Kitchen Program
Calgary, May 27, 2004.
Critics say George W. Bush’s ballistic missile defence shield would be hyper-expensive, ineffective, dangerous – an exquisite symbol of government gone bad, draining public resources into a mad dream. Janet Somerville felt certain she’d read this story before. She had, in the story of King Solomon.
By any standard, the 1980s had been a gung-ho decade for Citizens for Public Justice. The growing team of Board and staff members had taken on new issues for research and action. They had opened offices in three provinces. They had gone all-out for change on concrete issues from the land rights of the Dene Nation to the recycling of city garbage. They had agreed on foundational documents, seized moments on radio and televison, and started Catalyst.
The CJL (Committee for Justice and Liberty) Foundation came roaring out of the 1970s in overdrive. As an incorporated organization it was only 17 years old in 1980, and there had been full-time staff (Gerald Vandezande and John Olthuis) only since 1972. But some early successes had been deeply encouraging.
CJL breathed life into its support for pluralism – the right of different peoples to live out their lives according to their beliefs – through its support for Aboriginal rights in the 1970s. Bold work on the frontlines of Aboriginal support work led to new alliances, introducing many people to CJL for the first time.