SASKATOON — Longtime social justice advocate Tony Haynes passed away Nov. 15 in Saskatoon. Born William Anthony Haynes on April 6, 1929 in London, England, Haynes lived through the Depression and the bombardment of London in the Second World War, and was then conscripted into the RAF in 1947 and stationed at Singapore at the start of the Malayan Emergency.
Haynes met his wife, Maureen McGuigan, at a youth club at St. Peter-in-Chains Catholic Church in Hornsey, London, where they were married in 1955.
A graduate of St. Mary’s College, University of London, Haynes taught in that city until 1957, when he and Maureen joined other British teachers who were recruited to address Saskatchewan’s teaching shortage. The couple staffed a two-room school in Ormiston, Sask., before moving to Saskatoon in 1961, where Haynes completed his BEd and began a 28-year career teaching English at Bedford Road and Mount Royal collegiates. In addition to coaching soccer teams and directing school plays, he was president of the Saskatchewan English Teachers’ Association and taught curriculum studies at the College of Education. He completed a master’s degree in geography in 1979.
Haynes’s life was characterized by his passion for the Gospel and his service to the community. He taught in Awassa, Ethiopia with Volunteers in Christian Service (VICS) from 1991 to 1993, and served as the volunteer director of the Office for Justice and Peace in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon for 17 years. He advocated on many issues and reached out to many groups, including Development and Peace, Save the Children, KAIROS, the Anti-Poverty Coalition, the Community First Development Fund, and Station 20 West. He regularly participated in ecumenical events, such as the Outdoor Way of the Cross through the downtown streets of Saskatoon each Good Friday, and multi-faith prayers for peace at New Year’s.
Haynes travelled widely after he retired from teaching, frequently returning to Britain to visit his numerous relatives and friends. He finally retired from his volunteer position with the diocese in 2011, the same year he was named the Prairie Messenger’s Churchperson of the Year.
Haynes published two books after he retired from teaching: Letters from Ethiopia, a series of columns originally printed in the Canadian Catholic Review; and Ethiopian Mystery, a collection of poems largely written and inspired by his work there in the early 1990s.
“Volunteer International Christian Service,” he wrote at the beginning of Ethiopian Mystery, “is a lay organization for Canadian citizens established in 1971 by the Spiritans, the Congregation of the Holy Ghost. VICS sponsors men and women of all ages to share their professional and technical skills to assist people in developing nations.
“My time in Ethiopia was challenging but rewarding in countless ways. I am grateful for the experience, and the support I received from both VICS and the Comboni Missionaries who welcomed me to their mission in Awassa. Perhaps others may be inspired to one day follow in my footsteps and donate their time and skills as a volunteer overseas.”