ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland, 6 March, 2013 ( – A Canadian aid organization that has been repeatedly denied government funding because it embraces a pro-life position, is petitioning the Canadian government to embrace a “positive” vision of maternal care in the third world based on the principle “do no harm.”

“In order to reduce maternal mortality rates on a global scale, the Canadian government must fund positive maternal health initiatives that promote innovative and viable options for women and their children,” reads the petition created by MaterCare International.

The petition was launched today on Launched two days before Women’s Day, it will run until Mother’s Day, May 12. MaterCare is hoping that they will be able to present the Prime Minister with one thousand signatures.


MaterCare International (MCI), located in St. John’s, NL, helps mothers and babies in developing countries. But unlike many aid organizations to the third world, MaterCare will have nothing to do with contraception or abortion.

Last year the trail-blazing founder of Matercare, Dr. Robert Walley, received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal (literally “For the Church and the Pope”), the highest honor that the pope can bestow upon laity and religious, for his dedication to the cause of life and the health of women on a world-wide basis.

“Most of the places that we operate in — in rural Africa — are predominately Christian or Muslim,” Jennifer Derwey, Social Media director for MaterCare, told “They already have a belief system that is against abortion or contraception and so we are not trying to push any social ideology onto these places.”

But Derwey said that it is precisely for this reason that MaterCare has never received one dime of funding from the Canadian government for any of its programs. All of the organization’s funding comes from private donors and institutions.

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“We’ve actually been turned down 11 times for CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) funding,” she said. 

“CIDA has not been able to provide us with any funding stating that it’s because of ‘conflict of interests,’” she said. “Because we didn’t offer those things, we [were told we] wouldn’t be considered.”

But Derwey is hoping that if MaterCare’s petition is signed by enough people, the government might reconsider its position.

MaterCare excels in providing emergency obstetric care in rural areas of West Africa through a mobile-care model. The organization also trains traditional midwives to identify at-risk mothers and refer them to hospitals and clinics before serious complications occur. 

The organization boasts of a “comprehensive rural health program” in developing countries that supports birthing mothers, covering everything from “education to complicated delivery.” Fieldworkers say the program saves lives and enriches communities.

Matercare’s petition states: “We are asking our elected officials to co-sponsor and actively push for key initiatives and programs like those of MaterCare International, a world leader in inexpensive and effective programs that decrease the chance of death for both mother and child before, during, and after pregnancy.”

Derwey pointed out that, at the end of the day, it is the mothers and babies that matter most.

“We just want to offer them the kind of support and services that every mother is entitled to,” she said. 

View Matercare’s petition here.


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