The Joint Community Relations Committee was created in 1938 by the Canadian Jewish Congress, Central Region and the Toronto Lodge B’nai Brith. It was originally named the Joint Public Relations Committee and was responsible for combating antisemitism in Ontario. Public statements, by agreement, were made only by the Canadian Jewish Congress as B’nai Brith recognized the uniqueness of its national constitution. The committee was led by lay leaders from the community and a staff representative from the CJC. Shortly thereafter, similar committees were set up in Montreal and in Western Canada, and soon a National Joint Community Relations Committee was established.
The committee played a key role in achieving the early anti-discrimination act of 1944, and the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1951, leading to the Human Rights Code of today. It was prominent in the action against the spread of sectarian religious teachings in the public schools and took the lead in pressing for legislation against the dissemination of racial hatred. It acted for the preservation of religious and human rights and worked with numerous religious, fraternal and ethnic organizations in the wider community. The committee also investigated and acted upon all complaints of discrimination, antisemitism and other such incidents. They supplied Jewish and secular schools with educational materials including pamphlets and books, and conducted intercultural and inter-religious work in the community through organized lectures, seminars, institutes, and plenary sessions.
The committee was composed of equal representation from both the Canadian Jewish Congress, and the B’nai Brith. The money for the operation of the Committee was first provided by both organizations, however, in a 1947 agreement between the National CJC and B’nai Brith Canada, the parties stated that the finances for the committee would be raised in the name of the CJC, with B’nai Brith agreeing to make “token” contributions and co-operate with Congress’ fundraising campaign. As well, the professional staff and support persons for the committee, along with their salaries, came solely from the Central Region CJC.
The executive director (also referred to as the executive secretary) was the primary staff person responsible for carrying out the policy and activities of the JPRC, which included preparing press releases, liaisoning with affiliated groups, organizations, individuals, journalists, government representatives and any others wanting or needing information on issues relating to the JPRC’s work. The executive director acted as the recording secretary at all committee meetings and was the keeper of all official documents.
Around 1978, due in part to the earlier creation of the B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights in 1970, the Canadian Jewish Congress and the B’nai Brith terminated their joint relationship with the committee. At the time, the CJC felt that B’nai Brith was playing a dual role in advocacy through the League and through the JPRC. B’nai Brith, in turn, felt that the CJC was shutting out the B’nai Brith’s voice. Nevertheless, the “Joint” was not dropped from the name until around 1991.
In 2011 the Community Relations Committee ceased to exist when the CJC Ontario office was closed and the functions of the CJC were folded into the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
Committee name changes were:
Community Relations Committee, CJC, Ontario Region (ca. 1991-2011)
Joint Community Relations Committee, CJC, Ontario Region (ca. 1978-ca. 1991)
Joint Community Relations Committee, Central Region (1962-1978)
Joint Community Relations Committee, (1938-1962)
Scope and Content
Series consists of five sub-series. Sub-series 1 contains the agendas, minutes and associated documentation supporting meetings of the Community Relations Committee. Sub-series 2 contains speeches , publications, press releases and reports presented and/or distributed by the Committee. Sub-series 3 consists of case files documenting the Committee's activities of combating specific antisemitism and Holocaust-denying activities in Canada. Extensive documentation about Ernst Zundel is included Sub-series 4 contains 9 sub-sub-series documenting various categories of research files accumulated by the Committee. Sub-series 5 contains the general office records of the Committee and includes correspondence and memos of the Executive Director and records providing insight to the internal organization and management of the Committee's internal functions.
For more details see descriptions within the scope and contents notes at the sub-series and sub-sub-series levels.
Previously processed and cited a MG8 S
Physical extent note: when originally listed in 1988, this series contained about 20.5 metres of textual records. When partial processing and reorganization had been completed in 2013, 14 metres had been culled because those documents were duplicates, newspaper clippings, created by outside agencies or maintained in other agencies.
Associated material note:Library and Archives of Canada holds the records for the National B’nai Brith which does contain 30cm of material on the National Joint Community Relations Committee. The Canadian Jewish Congress National Archives in Montreal holds the records for the National Joint Community Relations Committee, which contains some files on the Ontario Region, as they reported to the National office. The whereabouts of the B’nai Brith records pertaining to the Central Region activities are currently unknown.
Because records in this series had been previously organized in a manner that proved difficult for use by archivists and researchers, the records, during 2010 and 2011, were totally rearranged and described to comply with RAD standards, to provide ease of access by researchers, and to fully reflect the activities and organizational history of the Community Relations Committee of the Canadian Jewish Congress during and after the period when it was a joint committee with the B'Nai Brith.