Profile: Mike Kropveld
In his play The Miracle Worker, the writer William Gibson suggests that, for human beings, language, words are as life-giving as water.
For cult survivors, information may be the life-giving element. In fact, information may be life itself, making the difference between despair and hope. So often, however, information is not available to those whose encounters with destructive groups or individuals have harmed them.
Enter Mike Kropveld and the indispensible, invaluable service he provides. Since 1980, Mike has been directing Info-Secte/Info-Cult. Info-Secte operates out of Montreal, Canada and is one of the largest resource centers in North America that provides information, education, and assistance regarding cults, new religious movements, and related groups and subjects. The collection houses documents primarily in English and French, as well as in other languages.
Since 1999, the Info-Secte Web site (www.infocult.org), wonderfully user-friendly, has been offering information about groups, upcoming conferences, government reports, legal cases, and the like.
Mike relates that, in 1977, he went to visit a friend who had been recruited into the Unification Church and became part of a dramatic rescue of this friend. This life-transforming and career-changing experience served as his introduction to cult issues, of which he had been previously unaware. He had been working in a residence for adults with intellectual disabilities; but as a result of his friend’s experience, which received a lot of media coverage, Mike decided to start Info-Cult.
Mike speaks English, French, Dutch, and a bit of Spanish. He loves to play Ultimate Frisbee, and he likes to hike and bike. His favorite author is Isaac Asimov.
In spite of his unassuming manner, Mike has been recognized for his work. In 1992, the Government of Canada awarded him the Commemorative Medal celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada “in recognition of significant contribution to compatriots, community and to Canada.”And in 2007, he received the Herbert L. Rosedale Award “in recognition of leadership in the effort to preserve and protect individual freedom.” Mike is often invited to speak at conferences, consult with other professionals, and give expert testimony. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and television shows.
What Mike finds most gratifying in his work is when people “get it,”and they “find out how to improve their situation.” After 35 years, he still finds his profession stimulating and thought provoking. He offers the insight that the work often “raises more questions than it answers.” It creates, he says, “a constant process of change and evolution.”
Mike Kropveld is the Founder and Executive Director of Info-Secte. He has been on the Board of Directors of ICSA since 2009.