Protecting the Dignity of Refugees
Ed Bosveld, our 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, is a dedicated advocate for at-risk communities, locally and globally.
5 min. read
October 2, 2016

Alumnus Ed Bosveld has been a foster parent and nursing home volunteer. He’s coached over 30 volleyball teams. He’s also an elder and musician in his church. When asked about his career, Ed will first mention his work in the community. “It’s just as important as my job,” he says. For 15 years, his job was working for the Christian Labour Association of Canada (CLAC). Now, Ed fills his time as a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, where he hears and decides refugee appeals. But this is all only part of the reason Ed Bosveld ‘92 has been chosen as the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient.

After starting at CLAC in 1993, Ed was able to complete a professional certificate in municipal administration from the Association of Municipal Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario in 2004, as well as earn an MBA at the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business in 2006. In 2008, Ed transitioned to work at the Immigration and Refugee Board. “I’ve always been fascinated by the work of all levels of government and the impact it has on individuals and society.”

“I’ve always felt strongly about the inherent dignity of each human being, about the call to do justice and protect the vulnerable.”

Interpreting Canadian and international law is never an easy task—applying it is just as difficult—but Ed sees it as an honour. “I have the incredible privilege of granting protection to those at risk of persecution,” he says, “I’ve always felt strongly about the inherent dignity of each human being, about the call to do justice and protect the vulnerable. Since I left Redeemer I’ve been blessed with opportunities to do this in a number of ways—as a foster parent with my wife (Joanne Bouwers ‘91), in the field of labour relations, and now in the area of refugee protection.”

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes those who have made significant contributions in their field and are active in their community. “What a privilege to honour Ed Bosveld as our Distinguished Alumni Award recipient this year,” says Kristel Bulthuis ‘06, president of the Alumni Council. “As someone who is a leader in his field, while also participating in the Redeemer community, we are grateful for the example Ed is. As he continues to shine a Christ-like light in his work, we congratulate him, encourage him and thank him for his contributions.”

Dr. Jim Payton, emeritus professor of history, has kept in touch with Ed through the years. “Ed has shown by his life of service that he is faithful to the calling to live all of life to the glory of God,” he remarks. “Ed’s work serves others in desperate need. He continues to challenge attitudes and assumptions about society, and the relationship of faith to it, in ways that enable those who interact with him to have deep discussions about that very important question.”

“I knew at the time that Redeemer was a very special community. Small, but vibrant and challenging, and I still see it that way today.”

While Ed’s career has brought him difficult and demanding work, he is renowned for his sense of humour. Dr. Payton has fond memories of teaching Ed. Dr. Payton recalls Ed finishing an exam earlier than the allotted three-hour time limit—but, instead of walking out—he proceeded to draw up some entertaining cartoons about Martin Luther. “That is the only time any exam I received in my 30 years at Redeemer that included humorous cartoons!”

Perhaps memories like these are a testament to the strong sense of community on campus. “I knew at the time that Redeemer was a very special community,” says Ed, “small, but vibrant and challenging, and I still see it that way today.” Ed, a political science and history double major, was one of the very first to graduate from Redeemer’s political science program. “The education I received was valuable in so many ways. The liberal arts approach ensured that I had exposure to different subjects and disciplines. Professors and classmates challenged me to think about how my beliefs, values and worldview relate to the world around me. Perhaps what I appreciate the most is that the professors were not looking for students to simply regurgitate what they were taught, but instead encouraged critical thinking. I don’t feel like I was taught what to think as much as I was taught how to think, and that’s been invaluable to me.”

In Ed’s eyes, Redeemer was a place to grow during what is for many a fast-paced and transient time in life. “I can truly say I had no idea of the career path that God would set before me. However, I am grateful to Redeemer for preparing me well for the different opportunities and challenges I’ve faced.”

The Alumni Association will host a reception on Tuesday, October 4 to celebrate Ed’s award, and to provide an opportunity for him to be publicly recognized for his life’s work.

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