Advocating for religion in a pluralistic society and in Canadian public life

Participants' Forum

Participants in the Canadian Interfaith Conversation look for interfaith partners in a variety of projects or advocacy campaigns - check them out below.

Campaign for $15 and Fairness

Religious and spiritual leaders from various communities are working together on an initiative to increase the minimum wage and improve working conditions across Ontario. In the statement that they are circulating for signatures, they explain, “There are many gaps in basic employment standards that make workers vulnerable to exploitation and unfair working conditions, leaving many people in our faith communities unable to support themselves and their families. Many – including first and second-generation citizens, immigrants and refugees – are working precarious jobs that lack benefits and do not pay a decent wage, leaving them below the poverty line. In a wealthy country like Canada, no person should be living in poverty. Decent work must be a core aspect of Ontario’s anti-poverty agenda, along with other measures to ensure that all of us live in dignity.”

Click here for more information and to find out how to add your name to the statement.

Statement by the Manitoba Multifaith Council

The summer of 2016 has been a “summer of discontent” throughout much of the world, especially with respect to interreligious understanding.

Considerable shock and outrage has been expressed worldwide for the draconian behaviour of the French “fashion police” in the continental bikini/burkini affair. The burkini, a type of discreet swimwear worn by some Muslim women to preserve modesty, was banned in 30 French jurisdictions. Claiming the burkini breached the “respect of good morals and secularism,” a Muslim woman in Nice was fined and forced to publicly remove some of her clothing.

Read more by downloading the Manitoba Multifaith Council Statement.

Interfaith Statement on Palliative Care

On June 14, 2016, representatives from various faith communities including the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the Canadian Conference for Catholic Bishops, the Canadian Council of Imams, and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, held a joint press conference to call on Canada’s elected officials to support a national palliative care strategy and to raise awareness of gaps in palliative care.  The group, along with the Armenian Prelacy of Canada, the Canadian Conference of Orthodox Bishops, and the Ottawa Muslim Association, also released an Interfaith Statement on Palliative Care.  

Interfaith Conversations in Manitoba Flourishing

The Manitoba Multifaith Council’s AGM will take place on May 30 at Mulvey school, an inner city location. We have chosen as our programme for that evening a panel discussion entitled Education, Religion and a New Canadian Pluralism. Our panelists include Tony Tavares, Manitoba Education Consultant for Diversity Education, Helen Settee-Robinson, Director, Manitoba Aboriginal Education Directorate, and Ruth Ashrafi, Director of Judaic Studies, Gray Academy.

The Muslim-Jewish Dialogue Group of Winnipeg is flourishing. Our events are now taking place on a monthly basis. We are exploring Sharia and Halacha topics; at the moment we are learning about family law in both traditions led by scholars  – Dr. Ruth Ashrafi a Jewish scholar originally from the Netherlands and Drs. Rory Dickson and Ahmet Seyhun who teach at the University of Winnipeg. Our attendance is such that we have had to for the sake of space and discussion purposes, limited membership for the time being to those currently engaged. 

The 15th Annual Holocaust and Human Rights Symposium took place at the University of Winnipeg with well over 1200 students in attendance. In addition to an inspiring keynote presentation from Toronto based survivor Pinchas Gutter, who spoke about faith in a very moving way, our afternoon presentation featured a young a Kurdish refugee who came to Canada at the age of 14 without any education and is a law student today. She spoke not only about her difficult 14 years in a refugee camp, at times desperate for even a sip of water, but of her struggle in Canada to wear her Muslim identity both within and without.

 

Interfaith Climate Change Statement to World Leaders Is Released

The Interfaith Climate Change Statement to World Leaders was released on April 18, in advance of the Paris Agreement Signing Ceremony in New York on April 22nd. Bishop Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada, was one of the speakers.

The Interfaith Climate Change Statement is the broadest faith statement to date, urging implementation and increased ambition on climate change, and includes almost all major religions, 270 leaders including the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu, numerous groups, and over 5550 individuals.  For more information, see a press release about the statement.
 

Conversation Participants Engage in Physician-Assisted Suicide and Palliative Care

Two Participants in the Canadian Interfaith Conversation – Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada – developed a Declaration on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide, which has been signed by representatives and individual members of faith communities, including Jewish and Muslim groups, across Canada. The Declaration was released at the end of October 2015, but individuals still have opportunity to sign the Declaration until May 2016.                                        

Interfaith conversation has begun about the need for high-quality, easily-accessible palliative care as a viable option to physician-assisted suicide. For more information on how to participate in this ongoing discussion, contact Aileen Van Ginkel.  

 

The Conversation and Several of its Participants Respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action #48

In June 2015 the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, established to investigate the traumatic impact of residential schools on Indigenous communities, addressed several "Calls to Action" to all faith communities in Canada. #48 asked the communities to indicate by March 31, 2016 how they planned to "adopt and comply with the principles, norms and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation." 

Read more on how the Canadian Interfaith Conversation and several of its Participants responded to the Call to Action.

 

Students Create Welcome Cards for Syrian Refugees

Children in schools across Toronto - and elsewhere in Canada - created cards to welcome Syrian refugees to the city. They learned how to write greetings in Arabic and even how to write right to left.  Sara Hildebrand of Millennium Kids led the workshops in schools across Toronto, showing students how make welcome cards for Syrian refugees.  Millennium Kids is a grassroots group that promotes children's awareness of the United Nations' "millennium development goals."  

In total, 45 Welcome Card workshops were provided, with 32 schools participating, along with diverse faith communities from Ontario, Quebec, Saskatchewan and PEI. Check out this article in The Toronto Star for more details.

Faith and Spiritual Leaders at Paris Climate Change Conference

Representatives of a variety of faith communities and spiritual groups spoke to the issue of climate change at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, December 2015.

An inter-faith/spiritual group released their "Statement of Faith and Spiritual Leaders on the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21 in Paris in December 2015."

Helpful to groups seeking to be involved in climate change matters from a faith perspective is this recording of a webinar by Climate Outreach and Green Faith.

Promoting Climate Justice and Ending Poverty in Canada

Representatives of several Participants in the Interfaith Conversation have added their signatures to the statement, "On Promoting Climate Justice and Ending Poverty in Canada: Faith Communities in Canada Speak Out." The statements builds on earlier documents and responses, including those related to UN Millennium Development Goals (2010) and climate change (2011).

Signatures are still being welcomed - for more information contact Peter Noteboom at the Canadian Council of Churches.

Millennium Kids

Millennium Kids are calling all peoples and nations to join them in bold strategic action to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Millennium Kids’ volunteer staff teach MDG workshops for schools, social justice conferences, faith communities and camps with a view to encouraging youth to explore student advocacy for the MDGs with gratitude for efforts made so far. Millennium kids/youth have gathered petition signatures for the MDGs, written and tweeted letters to the Prime Minister and Minister of International Development, met with members of parliament, requested appearances before government standing committees, travelled to the House of Commons for the tabling of their MDG petition. In December 2014, a 14-yr-old millennium kid spoke at the United Nations, NYC, challenging faith leaders to finish well on the MDGs.

The spokes-youth of this movement are every youth born in the year 2000, the same year every United Nation country signed a global pledge to spare no effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Their lives provide a measuring stick for the progress of 193 nations pursuing the MDGs by 2015. In any race it's the home stretch that matters most!

For more information contact Sara Hildebrand.

Click below to view photos from Millennium Kids' trip to Ottawa in the spring of 2014.

Interfaith Fast for the Climate

Interfaith Fast for the Climate LogoInterfaith Fast for the Climate is an initiative of faith groups around the world calling for a fair, ambitious and binding negotiated global climate agreement in Paris, December 2015. We fast on the first day of each month in solidarity with those who are already victims of climate change impacts, and those who are increasingly vulnerable. Please join us at www.fastfortheclimate.org.

Follow on FaceBook and Twitter: #fastfortheclimate

Fasting is a spiritual discipline of most faith communities but has also been joined by many in civil society who wish to express their support for the system change needed from governments and behaviour change needed from people. In North America we will also have a special focus every day from February through March, when our region will take part in a rolling 365 days of fasting. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Joy Kennedy.