150+ Canadians Day 151: Murray Thomson

The Honorable Murray Thomson contributed to peace by working tirelessly for disarmament and social justice for seventy years. #Canada150

Longtime Quaker peace activist Murray Thomson began his life’s work when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. He was a 23 year-old air force pilot. As Canada 150 approached, he was still at it, having organized Canadians for Nuclear Weapons Convention. The group convinced over 600 of Murray’s fellow Order of Canada recipients to call on Ottawa to lead a global effort to prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Murray was born to missionary parents in Taokow, China. A longtime adult educator, he devoted his life to the struggle for a world where all can live prosperously, in harmony with their neighbours. His non-governmental organization work took him from Thailand to India. And his quiet, humble work style and passionate commitment made him a cherished friend and colleague to many in the Canadian peace movement. A love of laughter and eagerness meet new people has blended seamlessly with his serious side. Murray has long insisted on the importance of “big ideas” – like world peace.

He served as Executive Director of CUSO and co-founded Project Ploughshares as well as Peace Fund Canada and Peace Brigades International.

“Few people,” said then Governor General Ramon Hnastyshyn in 1990, “have worked as long and as hard in seeking justice and a better way of life for others.” The occasion was Human Rights Day and the United Nations Association in Canada was awarding Murray its Pearson Peace Medal.

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