“Would it not be possible, in time of peace and quiet, to form relief societies for the purpose of having care given to the wounded in wartime by zealous, devoted, and thoroughly qualified volunteers?”
This is the question Henry Dunant, the Swiss founder of the Red Cross, asked after he witnessed suffering on an Italian battlefield in 1859. Following Henry Dunant's vision, the Red Cross works to alleviate suffering caused by fighting. But we also help people in times of peace to strengthen their capacities to live safer and healthier lives and prepare for and recover from disasters.
On May 19th, 1909, the passing in Parliament of The Canadian Red Cross Society Act established the Canadian Red Cross to serve Canadians as auxiliary to Government and the public authority, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. Prior to 1909 it operated as a branch of the British Red Cross.
For more than a century, Canadians have had their own Red Cross National Society dedicated to improving the situation of the most vulnerable people in Canada and around the world.
Internationally, we are a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, with approximately 100 million volunteers worldwide. The movement includes the International Committee of the Red Cross, which acts as a guardian of the Geneva conventions and is tasked under international humanitarian law to protect the lives and dignity of victims caught in situations of armed conflict.
The other arm of the movement is the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which coordinates the national disaster response activities of more than 185 national societies, like the Canadian Red Cross, and each acts as auxiliary to the government in its own country.
Our network is vast but our approach is simple. All Red Cross programs and activities are guided by the fundamental principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. These principles allow us to provide help immediately to whoever needs it, wherever they are, whatever their race, political beliefs, religion, social status or culture.
We are a leading humanitarian organization through which people voluntarily demonstrate their caring for others in need.
You Make the Difference – Support Our Work
Last year over 2.2 million Canadians were assisted, trained or educated by the Canadian Red Cross through the generous support of donors like you. Please donate to the Canadian Red Cross Fund today.