Justice coalition says it’s getting stronger

December 20, 2010

SHEILA DABU NONATO
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

TORONTO — A year after losing its federal funding and being accused of supporting anti-Semitic organizations, KAIROS has come out "stronger" and remains hopeful that its funding will be reinstated, says executive director Mary Corkery.

The challenges KAIROS faced over the past year have "renewed our passion to carry out a mission in support of social justice which is the root of peace, the heart of peace, the only way peace and development can happen," Corkery said.

She made her comments Dec. 1 in a teleconference with four partners in Kenya, Colombia and the Philippines. KAIROS invited Church media to the teleconference to provide an update on the funding cut.

Last November, the ecumenical organization of 11 religious groups, including the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, was denied $7.1 million in funding from the Canadian International Development Agency, about half of its total funding.

International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda said it was because KAIROS' projects didn't fit within the department's priorities.

Before the cuts were announced, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney accused KAIROS of funding anti-Semitic groups in the Middle East, a charge KAIROS denies. The coalition funds four Middle East ecumenical and women's groups.

In March, KAIROS submitted a new proposal requesting $9 million in CIDA funding, leaving out the four Middle East projects. KAIROS is still awaiting a decision from CIDA.

Corkery said KAIROS is supporting the Middle East projects independent from government grant money because these projects are "too important."

Jennifer Henry, KAIROS' manager of rights and dignity, said the decision not to include KAIROS' support of NGOs in the Middle East is a "recognition that we appear to be pretty far from the Government of Canada's position on Israel and Palestine."

The cuts have forced KAIROS to find other sources of funding from Church partners and individual donors.

Recent news media reports have revealed CIDA documents concerning KAIROS' past proposal that include several supportive comments from diplomats.

But the documents also included a handwritten note asking Oda not to support KAIROS, leading to speculation about political interference in the decision.