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The Rev. Judith Alltree, Honorary Assistant

posted 12 Nov 2012, 19:37 by Gary van der Meer   [ updated 13 Dec 2019, 16:04 ]

The Rev. Judith Alltree is fond of using the phrase “the ministry of small gestures” to describe her work. “That really sums up, in one sentence, what we do,” says Alltree over the course of an interview at the Mission’s Hamilton headquarters. “We listen. I go onboard now with little bags of chocolates for the crew. It’s a little gesture, a small gesture, but it just says to the crew, ‘We’re happy to see you, we’re glad you’re safe. What do you need, how can we help you?’ ”These small gestures—a bag of chocolates, a kind word, the lending of an ear—can go a long way in accumulating the trust of a ship’s captain and crew. And in an industry that critics say is notorious for its lack of oversight, trust is a commodity in short supply.

Society’s collective amnesia with regard to the method by which the vast majority of everyday items reach our shores contributes to this lack of oversight, says Alltree. Ninety per cent of everything people use comes by way of ship, she says, but little or no thought is spared for the men and women aboard. The crew is rendered “invisible,” and thus becomes much more vulnerable to a myriad of workplace abuses, some of which can lead to loss of life.

“We talk a lot about fairly traded coffee, cocoa, sugar. And that’s really important, and we can never lose sight of that,” says Alltree. “But what we also have to remember is that it gets here on a ship. Nobody thinks about the human element to that—it is fairly traded, [but] as soon as it gets on that ship, fairness goes out the window.”
Judith was ordained deacon and priest in the Diocese of Toronto. She brings thorough experience in the ceremonial practice and rite of Anglican Church and extensive experience of the Lutheran liturgy through past leadership in Lutheran congregations (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada). Judith's previous career in business and performing arts management includes skills in creative project development and management, sales, marketing and event production. Judith is the Executive Director and Chaplain of the Mission to Seafarers' Southern Ontario Chapter, a non-denominational and multi-faith organization that cares for seafarers who arrive in the ports of Hamilton, Oshawa and Toronto.