The founder of the Red Cross movement in Canada was George Sterling Ryerson. He accompanied the militia force sent to quell the NORTH-WEST REBELLION in 1885 and used a makeshift red cross to protect his horse-drawn ambulance. This flag (currently the property of the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library and now in the national office of the Red Cross in Ottawa) was flown during the Battle of BATOCHE, 9-12 May 1885. In 1896 Ryerson organized a Canadian branch (Toronto) of the British Red Cross Society which raised money for the relief of combatants in the SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR in 1898 and in 1899 distributed medical supplies during the SOUTH AFRICAN WAR.
In 1909 the federal government passed the Canadian Red Cross Society Act, which established the society as the corporate body responsible for providing volunteer aid in Canada in accordance with the Geneva Convention. During WWI the society raised $35 million in relief, shipped supplies overseas, maintained 5 hospitals in England and one in France, and provided recreation huts and ambulance convoys. After the war, outpost hospitals were set up in isolated areas, and in 1927 the International Committee recognized the CRC as an independent national society. During WWII the society contributed volunteer services and $80 million in goods and money, followed in later years by veterans' services and overseas services for orphaned children and refugees.
The Canadian Red Cross supervises a number of programs including the Water Safety Service, which trains instructors who implement the program in all parts of Canada. Volunteers provide transportation and recreational facilities for veterans, hospital outpatients and the aged and the disabled.
Prior to 1998, the Canadian Red Cross also supervised the Blood Transfusion Service (established 1947, later the Blood Services), which accepted blood from over one million donors each year. Following the blood collection crisis of the 1990s, in which some blood and blood products from the early 1980s were found to be contaminated by the human immune deficiency virus and hepatitis C (see KREVER INQUIRY), this function was taken over by the Canadian Blood Services.
The CRC is made up of four zones - Western, Ontario, Québec and Atlantic - and 428 branches, and has its national office in Ottawa.
Links to Other Sites
Canadian Red Cross
The Canadian Red Cross Society is a non-profit, humanitarian organization dedicated to improving the situation of the most vulnerable in Canada and throughout the world. The Canadian Red Cross is a national society and member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
Canadian Blood Services
The website for Canadian Blood Services, an organization whose sole mission is to manage the blood and blood products supply for Canadians.
Tainted blood scandal
A detailed CBC report about the Krever Inquiry, an investigation of "all activities of the blood system in Canada, including the events surrounding the contamination of the blood system in Canada in the early 1980s."