Two events were held February 17-18 in Toronto to honour the work of Christian social activist Gerald Vandezande. The first event was a memorial on Friday evening at First Christian Reformed Church. The second was a series of workshops the next morning at Wycliffe College discussing the issues Vandezande cared about.
Born in the Netherland in 1933, Vandezande came to Canada in 1950. Inspired by his parents’ efforts to hide Jews from the Nazis during World War Two, Vandezande had a highly developed sense of Christian responsibility to protect the weak. He helped establish the Christian Labour Association of Canada, a labour union based on Christian principles; in 1961 he co-founded the Committee for Justice and Liberty (which later became Citizens for Public Justice); in the 1970s he helped defend aboriginal rights in regard to the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline; and in the 1990s he was a leader in the Ontario Multi-Faith Coalition for Equity in Education (OMCEE), which sought government funding for faith-based schools. He was a member of the General Council of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) and was named a member of the Order of Canada.
He hosted his own radio commentary and interview program and made 200 guest appearances on the EFC TV program Cross Currents. He wrote numerous articles as well as the books Christians in Crisis: Toward Responsible Citizenship (1983), Let Justice Flow! Taking Healing Steps in a Wounded World (1994), Political Action in an Era of Budget Cuts: What Faith Communities Can Do About Poverty (1996) and Justice, Not Just Us: Faith Perspectives and National Priorities (1999). He passed away in July 2011.