For our staff, CPJ is more than a place of employment. People who work at CPJ are drawn by the faith-based platform promoting and advocating for policies that will help develop a just society for Canada. Striving for public justice is a cause, a worthwhile ministry.
CPJ is funded by thousands of donors, many of whom have been supporting the work for decades. These faithful donors see their support as an expression of their faith. Both staff and donors invest much into CPJ.
This personal investment by the CPJ family is what makes the loss of Stephen Kaduuli, our Refugee Rights Policy Analyst, hurt so much. Stephen died suddenly on April 15, 2021, after a short battle with the COVID-19 virus. His death is mourned across Canada and the world.
Stephen was the kind of person who brought an easy smile to many people. That was because his smile was so irresistible. His smile used up every muscle on his face and radiated out of his eyes. It was genuine, sincere, and impacted people across the globe. That smile will remain with us in our memories, for it is a smile that is impossible to forget.
I am pretty certain Stephen has impacted more people than he knew. That is because he carried himself with a humble realism. He knew he had much to offer, but he did not present himself as better than others. Instead, he sought to empower other voices.
Working for refugee rights was a passion for Stephen—a passion he carried with determination and deep sensitivity. His research on what he called “Canada’s Border Wall” was an example of this. In the shadow of a United States political campaign to build a 55-foot concrete wall across 2,600 miles, Stephen poked at Canada’s self-perception as being a contrasting friendly and accepting nation. But self-perceptions are often blinded to the lived experiences of others. Newcomers in Canada face discrimination especially in obtaining available housing and employment.
Although more subtle and hidden behind politeness, Canada maintains a wall of exclusion. And Canada’s wall is not limited to a physical border. It is a wall that permeates across the country.
Stephen poured himself into helping people recognize this wall and calling all to help dismantle this barrier. A fitting passion for a deeply devoted husband and a loving, protective father. He wanted to help improve the country to which he relocated his family.
We have lost a colleague, friend, and partner in the fight for public justice. Stephen’s research and writing on refugee rights have been recognized and valued by all who read it. The work will be accessed for years to come.
As a CPJ family, we will strive to continue to build on the work conducted by Stephen. But for now, we mourn. We pray for his family. And we lift our hands in gratitude to the God who created him and shared his life with us.