Our History

It was the dawn of Beatlemania. The Leafs won the Stanley Cup. Lester Pearson was Prime Minister. We flew the red ensign as our national flag. Non-white faces were still a rare sight on the streets of our cities.

This was Canada, circa 1963. But beneath the surface of Canadian society, something unique was stirring: a movement to extend the Gospel’s Good News well beyond church walls and into the very fabric of our life, including political life. A small group of young men at King's University (Edmonton) created the Christian Action Foundation, which would later join with the Committee for Justice and Liberty to become Citizens for Public Justice.

Some 50 years later, CPJ now has a long history of speaking out for public justice across Canada. From the early beginnings promoting a Christian view of the government in the 1960s, the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline moratorium in the 1970s, social policy, recycling, and tax reform in the 1980s, to deepening work on child poverty and refugees in the 1990s, our move to our nation’s capital in 2007, the launch of the Dignity for All campaign in 2009, and the reemergence of a public justice perspective on the environment, CPJ has remained a constant, active voice in Canadian public affairs.

Our history includes many people of different backgrounds coming together to speak with one voice. Explore our history below – and join us as we move forward in the next chapter of CPJ.


New Year's Reflections

The New Year is often a moment for looking back and looking forward. In recent years, CPJ has taken the turning of the calendar as an opportunity to reflect on what we've done in the year gone by and our hopes and plans for the year ahead. Read more

Gerald Vandezande

Gerald was one of the founders of Citizens for Public Justice in 1963, and continued to be involved as an active member and supporter all the days of his life. He worked as Executive Director until 1988 and then National Public Affairs Director of CPJ for another decade thereafter. Gerald passed away in the summer of 2011, leaving a rich legacy. Read more 

2013: 50 years of work for public justice!

In 2013 we celebrated CPJ's 50th anniversary: a time to share and honour all the ways CPJ inspired and transformed public policy in Canada, to learn more about people whose courage and insight have led to lasting change, and to lift up visions for the future. Thank you to everyone who joined us in this celebration! Read more

2008: CPJ's 45th Anniversary

In 2008, CPJ's 45th anniversary year, members and supporters gathered in Ottawa for the organizational AGM. It was a chance to celebrate CPJ’s 45 year history with old friends, say goodbye to long-time executive director Harry Kits, and look to the future with renewed enthusiasm and vision. Read more

CPJ is Called to Ottawa    

In 2007, with an increasing focus on federal policy issues, it became clear that it was time to move. According to then-executive director, Harry Kits, “Our presence is needed [here] to speak to all parties and work to bring together different viewpoints in answers that serve the common good. CPJ will bring our particular understanding of Jesus’ Gospel of love and compassion.” Read more

40th Anniversary Celebrations

During 2003 and 2004 Citizens for Public Justice and the Public Justice Resource Centre celebrated their 40th Anniversary in Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, London, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver. In each location where we celebrated, Executive Director Harry Kits repeated: "We thank God for the blessing of all of you - a loyal supporting community. Thank you for celebrating with us tonight. We continue to feel blessed by God who has sustained these organizations in good times and bad, and has given them an opportunity to be a blessing in Canadian society. We rely on your continued prayers, participation, challenges, and financial support as we go forward, past and future together." Read more

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