150+ Canadians Day 112: Bill & Jim Harding

Image: Jim Harding

Jim Harding and his father, Bill Harding, contributed to peace by opposing uranium mining for weapons.

Bill Harding was born in 1911 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He held a BSc in Agriculture form the Manitoba Agricultural College in Winnipeg. Harding’s career began at the Swift Current Experimental Station (1934-1936) and the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act Administration (PFRA) (1937-1941), where he performed agricultural extension work and field husbandry research.

Bill Harding had an extensive career as an agriculturalist, civil servant, international development worker, and community activist.

In 1942 he moved to Calgary, Alberta, where he was employed as an administrator and accountant for the Calgary Exhibition and Stampede. Returning to Saskatchewan in 1945, he became the Acting Director of the Adult Education division of the Saskatchewan government, established the Radio and Information Division of Department of Agriculture; and served on the Saskatchewan Royal Commission on Agriculture and Rural Life, among others.

From 1952-1957 he served as Secretary to the Saskatchewan Royal Commission on Agriculture and Rural Life, and was Secretary of the Saskatchewan Local Government Continuing Committee and Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Centre for Community Studies from 1958-1961.

In 9161 he moved into international development, working around the world with the United Nations. He eventually became Director of the UN Development Program Division of Information and Director of Program Policy in New York in 1974.

In retirement he remained active in community development, health and education and became active with groups opposing the expansion of uranium mining in Saskatchewan.  He participated in inquires and helping to organize the First International Uranium Congress held in 1988. He was a charter member of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society. He participated in the Cliff Lake and Warman Refinery inquires, and traveled the province attending public meetings sponsored by the United Church, the Interchurch Uranium Committee, and the Saskatchewan Environmental Society.

Harding further participated in the environmental movement as a member of the Saskatchewan Ecological Alliance and the Regina Greens.  Bill Harding also involved himself in provincial politics, working for the CCF at the constituency and provincial levels. He served on the Provincial Council Executive at various times, was chair of the Provincial Organizing and Education Committee, and was involved in Group Training and Farmer-Laborer-Teacher Institutes during the 1940s and 1950s. He was Director of Education and Organization for the Saskatchewan New Democratic Party prior to the 1964 election.

Jim, Bill’s son is a retired professor of justice studies at the University of Regina. He is a founding member of the Regina Group for a Non-Nuclear Society and was director of research for Prairie Justice Research at the University of Regina, where he headed up the Uranium Inquiries Project. Jim also acted as consultant to the NFB award-winning film Uranium.

Inspired by his father, Jim is also a long time peace and environmental activist. He has been involved with anti-nuclear research and activism in his home province for several decades. For two decades Jim was a key member of the School of Human Justice at the University of Regina, where he acted as director in the early 1990s. More recently Jim served for one term as Regina’s inner-city councilor. He now lives, gardens and writes on the Crows Nest Ecology Preserve in the Qu’Appelle Valley.

Jim authored a number of books; including, “Canada’s Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System”.

“There’s a reason why we’re passionate about this, and it’s because we realize our interdependence is real. This is not a CBC News report. It’s actually happening, so when those depleted uranium bullets were blasted into Iraq in the shock and awe and the uranium aerosols went up into the atmosphere and apparently went as far as England, but mostly went into the lungs of fighters and civilians on land there’s a little bit of Saskatchewan right there going into them.” 

You can read an in-depth interview with Jim Harding on Aurora Online.

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