Responding to depression-era anti-Semitism in Canada, the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith together established in 1938 a new joint committee. Since then the Joint Community Relations Committee has documented racist threats in Canada; initiated advocacy activities to work for improved civil rights; promoted legislation combating hate; worked to ensure equality of access to employment, education and accommodation; and investigated specific incidents of discrimination. The JCRC, for example, played a key role in achieving the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1944, and the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1951, key steps leading to Canada’s current Human Rights Code.
The textual records of the Ontario Region JCRC were originally created and maintained by the Canadian Jewish Congress, whose Toronto office donated them to the Ontario Jewish Archives. Although the files had been previously listed, access for research purposes remained extremely difficult. To correct this problem, the OJA is now reorganizing the JCRC records, applying national descriptive standards to ensure ease of understanding and access for future researchers. Guided by archivist George Wharton, and utilizing the efforts of three of our volunteers over the past year, approximately 24 metres of files have now been re-organized into five large sub-series to more precisely document the decisions and activities of the JCRC.
September 2010 marks the completion of the initial phase of this major project, involving records from 1938 to 1978. Phase two will involve the further sorting of the files into sub-series.