by Leslie Mezei
2013, the Year of Interfaith in Canada
The world did not come to an end on December 21st! But we want to believe in the Mayan prophecies that it would bring us to the threshold of renewal in this next cycle. We do see a real surge of interfaith activity in Canada.
Below you will find important News from Toronto, London, Ottawa, Halifax, as well as some Canada-wide organizations.
In the Events section of TIO-in-Canada you’ll find notice of the UN-declared first week of February Global Interfaith Harmony Week; a six-month Vancouver project on the power of spirit over adversity and persecution; a World Religion Day in Port Perry, Ontario; Epiphany Explorations in Victoria, B.C., and a number of Toronto-area events.
We are looking forward to a Summit of Toronto Area Faith Leaders on Wednesday, June 12, 2013, organized by the Toronto Area Interfaith Council (TAIC). And on August 11-14 Toronto will be hosting many interfaith friends from across Canada and the U.S. for NAINConnect 2013.
It is our hope that the federal chaplaincy cutbacks are ameliorated and that the Ontario Multifaith Council finds new funding. We also need more clarity about the roles of the professional chaplains and better access to that role by non-Christians and spiritual caregivers from other faith groups they can call upon, often on a volunteer basis.
TIO in Canada’s New Year’s resolution is to have, by the end of this year, a designated correspondent from every organization or community with interfaith activities in Canada. This will help us fulfill our mission of being the information exchange and communication medium for the whole Canadian interfaith movement and set an example for other regions of our wonderful Globe. We will particularly focus on social justice issues and how we can collaborate.
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Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton on the Role of Faith Communities in Development
The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond: A Report from the UN High-Level Panel
Kylych Kubatbekov, December 27, 2012 , Canadian Baha'i News Service
“Every person on the globe is an asset to the globe.” The Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton repeated this quotation several times at the beginning of a lecture held at the Toronto Baha’i Centre on “The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond: A Report from the UN High-Level Panel.” She was quoting Graça Machel, a member of the UN High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, whose recent meeting she attended as one of thirty representatives of global civil society. The High-Level Panel advises the Secretary-General of the UN on the parameters of the next Global Development Framework. Dr. Hamilton emphasized that “we are in the kind of … moment where a lot of things are starting to come together that have not come together before.”
“Dr. Hamilton was addressing a gathering of several dozen participants from a cross-section of Canadian civil society and international development organizations. The event was convened by the Baha’i Community of Canada,the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, the Canadian Council of Churches, and the Mosaic Institute. John Monahan, Executive Director of the Mosaic Institute, chaired the event. He opened the gathering by noting: “One of our overarching purposes we have today… is that the conversations we have collectively will start to break down a divide between organizations and individuals involved in development who come from a faith-based and non-faith-based or secular approach. The Millennium Development Goals cut across faith and gender and language, they are universal and cut across the population of the globe, so we are all concerned about them and have something to say.”
“Faith and the Common Good” Celebrates a Decade of Achievements
Into Our Second Decade of Greening Sacred Spaces
Faith & the Common Good, Electronic Newsletter, December 2012
“Greening Sacred Spaces will soon celebrate 10 years of serving faith communities in their efforts towards eco-sustainability. We have worked with over 700 faith communities on everything from changing light bulbs to installing solar panels. Our team offers expertise and encouragement to all kinds of greening efforts.
“Two things started us down this path. First, in talking with interfaith groups across the country, the environment and sustainability were top of people’s mind as good issues for engagement. Second, David Suzuki was launching his “nature challenge” in the fall of 2002. Faith & the Common Good joined in with a “Renewing the Sacred Balance” initiative. Both efforts sought to sign up Canadians to reduce their carbon footprint in relation to their housing, transportation, food, and community engagement. While ahead of the curve in public interest on climate change we laid the spiritual and practical groundwork for our subsequent Greening Sacred Spaces (GSS) efforts.”
“At a Renewing the Sacred Balance event at the Toronto Islamic Foundation mosque, David Suzuki challenged the 200 faith leaders and 1300 attendees to go beyond talking about environmental issues and take practical steps to reduce their ecological footprint. Hence, we named our efforts Greening Sacred Spaces to suggest we walk the talk more than just talking about what we should do.”
“Over the past decade our staff team and volunteers have hosted and been part of hundreds of faith-based eco-events in many communities, working with local green teams on a range of greening activities, and reducing the carbon footprint of the Canadian faith sector.”
To receive the Newsletter, and to join: click here
Canadian Centre for Diversity Has New logo
65th Anniversary and Awards Celebration
In celebration of our 65th Anniversary on November 8, 2012, it was our pleasure to honour Salah Bachir, President, Cineplex Media with the 2012 Human Relations Award and to present CIBC with the 2012 Partners In Diversity Award. Ben Mulroney, Host of e-Talk, hosted this very special evening and introduced inspirational students who are making significant contributions to social change in their schools and communities.
In the words of one of those students, “Through the many workshops and modules [in the Peer Leaders Network], I have developed the skills and tools that enable me to confront stereotyping and to explain the importance of diversity in today’s society. Each and every one of us has a story worth sharing, and one that has the ability to change lives.”
Remarkable Festival of Lights celebration in London, Ontario
Hannukah Celebrations in a Catholic Convent
Father Murray Watson, December 14, 2012, ifpress.com
“In the darkness of mid-December, homes and trees all over London gleam with the coloured brightness of Christmas lights. And, if you look closely enough at more than a few windows in our city, you will often see other, tiny, flickering lights — the lights of Hanukkah menorahs, glowing with a message of hope, resilience and faith that stretches back more than 2,000 years.
London has a significant Jewish population — three denominational synagogues (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform) and a student centre run by the Chabad Lubavitch movement — and all of their members are celebrating Hanukkah with great joy at this time of year.”
“But there is at least one community in London where Jewish neighbours and Roman Catholic nuns have been coming together for the past several years to mark the Festival of Lights in remarkable interfaith festivities.
The Sisters of the Precious Blood are an enclosed (cloistered) community of Roman Catholic sisters, dedicated to the Eucharist and devoted to intercessory prayer for the needs of the world. Founded in Ste-Hyacinthe, Que., they will mark a century of prayerful presence in London as an important pillar of local Catholic life in 2013. Their life is generally quiet and unassuming — but they are anything but closed-off from the world, its issues and needs.
For the past four years, the Sisters of the Precious Blood have gathered with their neighbours, Cheryll and Arthur Jutan, to mark Hanukkah together. The Jutan family is Jewish, but over the years, a wonderful interfaith friendship has deepened between them and the Sisters. This relationship has allowed them to share celebrations of Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.”
U.S. Golden Rule Scholar honoured by Canadians
Golden Rule Ambassador Award to Rev. Dr. Harry Gensler S.J.
November 19, 2012
Gensler is one of the top three Golden Rule scholars in the world. A professor of philosophy at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, he is a world-class teacher and a scholar who has been conscientiously practicing and writing on the Golden
Rule for more than forty years.
In his soon-to-be-published book, The Golden Rule and Ethics (Routledge, March 2013), Gensler builds on his original formal-logical approach by giving added theological depth and the fruit of an entire sabbatical year of further study. Of the various Golden Rule scholars in the world, he is the foremost in logical clarity.
The Golden Rule Ambassador Award was initiated by Mussie Hailu, a dynamic Ethiopian Golden Rule and interfaith activist. The award recognizes individuals or organizations who have made a significant contribution to community service or Golden Rule activity.
The award was presented to Dr. Gensler at John Carroll University when Paul McKenna of Scarboro Missions visited the university to join Gensler in presenting some Golden Rule seminars to students and faculty.
Ottawa All-Party Interfaith Friendship Group
Fourth Interfaith National Breakfast held on Parliament Hill
In November 2012, the 4th annual Interfaith National Breakfast was held in the Parliamentary Restaurant on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The breakfast was sponsored by the All-Party Interfaith Friendship group (APIF), and co-chaired by Mark Adler, Member of Parliament for York Centre, and Nathalie Thirlwall, a member of the Bahá'í community of Ottawa. The aim of the APIF is to create a space to explore how the religious heritage of the people of Canada can inform public life.
One hundred people attended — Members of Parliament, Senators, members of the diplomatic community, faith leaders and representatives. Each table had a diverse mix of politicians, diplomats and representatives from the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Falun Gong, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh religions.
Another great Canadian Interfaith poster Unveiled in Halifax
Canadian Race Relations Foundation Poster
In October 2012, the Race Relations Foundation hosted a national symposium in Halifax, “Race, Faith and Belonging: Strengthening Citizenship Engagement in Canada,” as part of the project. The symposium attracted some 250 representatives of organizations working across Canada to advance more inclusive education programs, employment strategies that respond to Canada’s diversity, practices that promote youth dialogue, civic engagement, greater cultural competency in policing, and better ways of handling competing human rights before conflicts escalate to expensive and embittering legal battles.
The lively and informative sessions were led by a range of Canadian organizations. Religious communities, Aboriginal rights associations, municipal and police officials, provincial education directors, city managers, academics, representatives of provincial Human Rights Commissions, youth programs, and employment and legal agencies were among the participants.