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Ottawa Quakers active in peace work (a selection)

Murray Thomson

Murray Thomson was born in December, 1922, in Taokow, China, the son of Canadian missionaries.

After graduating from the University of Toronto in 1947, Murray worked in adult education in Saskatchewan, where a government led by the CCF, the forerunner of the NDP, had come to power. His job was in the Adult Education Division. He also worked at Qu'Appelle Valley Centre, which had been opened by Father Moses Coady, the founder of the Antigonish Institute in Nova Scotia, and a pioneer in the Canadian co-operative movement.

A UNESCO fellowship took him back to Asia in 1956, to the International Institute for Child Study in Bangkok. Later, he began working at the Quaker Conferences in Southern Asia, headquartered in Delhi, organizing conferences for young leaders and diplomats in the region. At the Quaker Centre in Delhi, he met Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King.

Returning to Toronto in 1962, he became Peace Education Secretary for Canadian Friends Service Committee, the peace and development wing of Canadian Quakers. Working there until 1969, he helped found Grindstone Island as a peace education centre, an institution which lasted from 1962 to 1990.

At a Quaker peace seminar in 1964 he met Suteera Vichitranonda, a Thai microbiologist. They were married in 1964. Their daughter Sheila was born in 1969. His second stay in Thailand began in 1970, this time with CUSO (formerly Canadian University Service Overseas). He came back in 1974 to become their Executive Director. Returning to peace education, he helped to found Project Ploughshares, the interchurch peace agency of the Canadian Council of Churches in 1976. In 1981, he helped to found the Group of 78. He helped found Peacefund Canada in 1985 and the Canadian Friends of Burma in 1991.

Murray was awarded the Pearson Peace Medal by the United Nations Association of Canada in 1990. He was one of three Canadian Quakers to be so honoured (Nancy Pocock and Muriel Duckworth were the others). From 1985 to the present, he has been the Executive Secretary of Peacefund Canada.

Alan Dixon

Alan Dixon was born in Ottawa in 1963 and started attending Ottawa Friends Meeting with his parents at the age of 10. He joined the Society of Friends in 1989 during his two-and-a-half year stay in San Jose, Costa Rica. He is currently North American Project Co-ordinator for Peace Brigades International (PBI).

A mathematician, Alan earned a B.A. in Mathematics at Carleton University in Ottawa. Later, he earned a Master's in Mathematics from the University of Costa Rica. When not working on peace issues, he works in Ottawa as a computer programmer.

It was in Costa Rica in 1986 that he heard about Peace Brigades International (PBI) at a talk about the project in Guatemala. He also met several PBI volunteers while working at the Friends Peace Centre in Costa Rica.

Alan's concern with peace issues continued on his return to Canada in 1990, where he became part of PBI's Emergency Response Network. In January, 1992, he took a training to be a field volunteer in Central America. Afterwards, he went to El Salvador for six months, and since returning he has been involved with the North American Project.

As with many Quakers, his approach to his life and work comes out of his own personal philosophy.

"The first and greatest gift we receive when we come for our short stay on this planet is our own lives," Alan said. "The second, intimately connected, is the rest of this wonderful creation. So the way I have learned to conduct myself is to above all rejoice and give thanks, and then to listen carefully to what the holy spirit asks me to do, keeping in mind that this is what everyone else is really here to do also."

Edith Adamson

Edith Adamson was born in 1913 to an Anglican family in Toronto. When she was a little girl, six of her uncles went away to fight in the First World War, and she was told that she might not see some of them again. " I was against war from that time on," Edith said.

In 1934, she attended the University of Toronto and received a one-year certificate in librarianship. She went to her first Friends meeting in 1939 in Toronto.It was a special meeting on the topic, "Is this a just war?'. Edith attended Toronto Friends Meeting from then on. In 1941, she was married and moved to Ottawa in 1942. Her concern to pay taxes for peace instead of war began in 1943, when she worked with the wartime information board. "We had to explain that if you paid $100 in income taxes, it would feed four soldier for a month. I thought, why couldn't they do that for people during the depression?"

While raising three sons, she completed her B.A. at Carleton University and a Master of Library Science from Mcgill University. She began attending the newly-established Ottawa Friends Meeting in 1958, and became a member in 1960. She worked as a librarian in Ottawa, and from 1966 to 1969, worked for the Department of Indian Affairs, starting libraries in Native communities in Canada. She then became the Chief Librarian for the Department of regional Economic Expansion. She retired in 1974, and moved to Victoria, British Columbia, in 1977.

In 1978, she and two other Victoria Friends, Ian Gibson and Dorothy Webster, founded the Peace Tax Fund, a group which advocated allowing taxpayers to direct their military taxes to peaceful uses. The committee became a separate body in 1993, as Conscience Canada. Edith has been active with this group from its beginning to today.

Rev. June 20, 1996 - Carl Stieren [email protected]