60 Years of Volunteering

Since 1958, more than 9,000 Crossroaders have volunteered in more than 60 countries with 160 partners around the globe. Collectively, we have made important contributions to advance equality. Many volunteers tell us that their placement changed their lives.

If you are a Crossroader, help us celebrate our 60th anniversary by sharing your impact stories. How did your Crossroader experience impact your life, your family, your career, your community or the community where you volunteered? Please complete the survey below so we can highlight the value of volunteer cooperation in creating a more just, equitable and sustainable world.

Our History

Let’s go back to the past. Discover 60 years of Crossroads’ history.

  1. 1958

    Dr. James H. Robinson founds Operation Crossroads Africa, an organization that brings North Americans together to work alongside Africans in development projects. Peter Paris is the first Canadian to go overseas with Crossroads.
  2. 1959

    Canadian Committee of Operations Crossroads Africa established by group of United Church members inspired by Dr. Robinson.
  3. 1960

    Ten Canadians volunteer overseas with Crossroads. By the end of the 1960s that number would grow to more than 250.
  4. 1968

    Canadian Crossroads International is granted a charter as a charitable corporation separate from the United Church and Operation Crossroads Africa. Programming is initiated outside Africa.
  5. 1972

    The South-North (To Canada) program is launched when two volunteers from Lesotho arrive for agricultural placements in Manitoba. James Robinson passes away.
  6. 1974

    Volunteers in partner countries are recruited as Country Representatives to coordinate Crossroads activities overseas.
  7. 1977

    Local volunteer committees are established across Canada to support education, recruitment and fundraising.
  8. 1982

    Crossroads office moves to Toronto from London, Ontario.
  9. 1983

    Crossroads’ first Regional Office opens in Halifax.
  10. 1989

    Thirteen medical students travel to Guyana through a new Crossroads program Queen's Medical Outreach (QMO), to support primary health care work in rural areas. Crossroads sends its first volunteers to Bolivia.
  11. 1990

    Crossroads has partnerships in more than 15 countries in Africa, South Asia and South America and Caribbean.
  12. 1995

    Crossroads launches the Québec Sans Frontières (QSF) program.
  13. 2001

    Crossroads engages Canadian organizations as formal partners to increase the sharing of skills, knowledge and to build organizational capacity North and South.
  14. 2003

    Crossroads works with 20 partners in 15 countries in Africa, South Asia and South America and Caribbean.
  15. 2005

    Crossroads focuses development projects and partnerships on HIV and AIDS, economic development and women’s rights.
  16. 2007

    Crossroads pilots Access to Justice Program for survivors of gender-based violence in Ghana with local partner WilDAF.
  17. 2008

    Crossroads celebrates its 50th anniversary and more than 8,000 volunteers’ exchanges. Crossroads pilots Girls’ Empowerment Program in Swaziland with local partner SWAGAA.
  18. 2010

    Offices in Halifax and Vancouver close. Strategic plan narrows program focus to advance women’s rights and sustainable livelihoods and commits to expanding program approaches with new funding.
  19. 2011

    Canadian Crossroads International rebrands as Crossroads International. Crossroads scales up Girls’ Empowerment and Access to Justice Programs.
  20. 2012

    Volunteer placements in Mali suspended indefinitely after coup and rise of terrorist threats.
  21. 2013

    Crossroads volunteers help Bolivian coffee producers reach international markets.
  22. 2015

    Strategic plan to expand work with partners advancing equality for women and girls with three primary objectives: Increase access to justice and reduce gender-based violence; increase women’s leadership and increase economic autonomy for women and youth. Karen Takacs Women’s Leadership Fund launched in honour of long standing Executive Director, providing direct financial support and scholarships for Crossroads partners advancing equality for women and girls in Africa. New programming launched in Tanzania and Burkina Faso. Security threat forces closure of programming in Zimbabwe and Niger. Crossroads pilots Farmers for the Future program in Bolivia and Togo reaching hundreds of young farmers.
  23. 2016

    Private sector partnerships piloted to increase economic autonomy for women. New strategic alliances with leading Canadian organizations in women’s rights, agriculture and justice sectors launched.
  24. 2017

    Bolivian partner Asociación Nacional Ecuménica de Desarrollo (ANED) closes in late 2017.
  25. 2018

    Crossroads celebrates its 60th Anniversary and more than 9,000 volunteer exchanges in 67 countries.

Read Crossroaders’ stories from 1958 to the present day illustrating the richness and diversity of the Crossroads’ experience.


Dr. Peter Paris

(Nigeria, 1958)



Donald Oliver

(Ethiopia 1962)


Donald Simpson

(Nigeria, 1960)



Norine Baron

Lawrence Hill

(Niger 1979, Cameroon 1981, Mali 1989, Swaziland 2014)



Lyse Doucet

(Côte d’Ivoire, 1982)


Janet Sutherland

(The Gambia, 1982)



Meredith Low

(Zimbabwe, 1990)


Ghislaine Tremblay

(Ghana, 1993)



Didier Muamba

(Mali, 2003)


Sarah Cardey

(Togo, Ghana, Mali – 2003)



Marleigh Austin

(Swaziland, 2015-Present)


Fatimata Kane

(Senegal, 2016)


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