The United Jewish Relief Agency needed to show that the interned refugees were a humanitarian rather than a Jewish cause. To this end, it joined forces with the Canadian National Committee on Refugees (CNCR), formed in 1938 to focus public attention on the plight of refugees.
The CNCR was composed of prominent non Jews who felt morally obliged to aid victims of fascism, and included church leaders and wives of Senators. The Chairperson was Canada’s first female Senator, Cairine Wilson, a staunch Liberal and friend of Prime Minister Mackenzie King. On the issue of the internees, the CNCR became, in essence, a non sectarian front for the United Jewish Refugee and War Relief Agencies. Its major impetus and funding was provided by the UJRA.
In January 1941, the two organizations joined to form the Central Committee for Interned Refugees (CCIR). The CCIR compiled individual case files that would facilitate release of internees in Canada. Stanley Goldner was appointed Liaison Officer and became a lifeline between the camps and the Committee.
The CCIR worked with Paterson, pressuring government for an alteration of status from internee to refugee, and for eventual release into Canada. CCIR members were confident they would have succeeded without Paterson. But it is likely that without Paterson’s work, which affirmed the innocence of the refugees, progress would have been far slower.
A collection of images relating to the Canadian National Committee on Refugees.