Canadian Friends of CRS


The Canadian connection began when Sheila Johnston and her husband, Simon, currently living in Surrey, British Columbia, visited Kolkata in September 2010 to do some research on Simon’s great-grandfather who had lived and worked in the city. Inspired by the work of CRS in education, the empowerment of women and social justice issues, she decided to set up a Canadian Friends of CRS to raise funds.



The Canadian Friends are actively engaged in spreading awareness about the needs of poor and marginalised people in India, and the work of CRS, and in raising funds.

Every spring we hold a Penny Pot Tea, a free and fun event to bring together our donors and to thank them for their interest and support. When we initiated this event the Canadian mint still produced pennies but soon after the 2nd Annual Penny Pot Tea the government discontinued pennies. However, we like the name of the event so we kept it, although our donors now collect ‘small change’ such as nickels, dimes, quarters, Loonies ($1 Cdn.), Twoonies ($2 Cdn.) and kindly donate larger amounts as well.

We collect individual donations but we do not solicit aggressively, rather we rely on one-on-one discussions with colleagues, family members, and friends, to let them know the work that CRS does in Kolkata. If a person expresses interest we offer to give them their own ‘Penny Pot’ to keep for 11 months, and then donate the contents to us. We find that many people who have donated to us since our inception just keep on giving.

Members of the Board have the opportunity to do public speaking engagements to raise awareness about the work of CRS. We have addressed church groups, Rotary Clubs, and university classes, among other groups. This has often resulted in group gifts which are always so encouraging to receive. We then invite the entire group to the upcoming Penny Pot Tea.

The Canadian Friends, according to its constitution and bylaws, sends 100% of donations received to the CRS Board and Executive Director in Kolkata. They apply the Cdn. funds as they see fit, to their programs. No donated funds are used to underwrite the cost of the Penny Pot Tea, nor any expenses the Cdn. Board may accrue.



The Canadian Friends of CRS is governed by five Directorscanadian-friends-trustees

Sara Badyal is an architect and a City Planner, and works at City Hall in Richmond.

Keith Bunnell is a reference and collections librarian at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Sheila Johnston is an Office Administrator at a busy Anglican Church in South Surrey. She is a writer, and has had two non-fiction books published.

Roma Palmer is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, and lives in Vancouver.

David Swan is currently a student at the Vancouver School of Theology and worked previously as the Executive Director of the Leukemia & Lymphony Society of Canada


Charitable status

The Canadian Friends is a small, secular, non-profit society. Under its legal name – “Canadian Friends of the Calcutta Cathedral Relief Services Society” – the society has been incorporated under the Society Act of the Province of British Columbia, since January 2, 2013. Each January the Cdn. Friends/CCRS submits its Annual Report to the Province using its Incorporation Number S-0060706.

The Cdn. Friends/CCRS is not registered with the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) and therefore cannot issue receipts that can be used for tax deductions. The annual costs to charities that are registered with the CRS are high, and they exceed the Cdn. Friends/CCRS financial capabilities. The Cdn. Friends issue receipts for each donation received, no matter how small.


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