Our bi-monthly newsletters inform about topics and issues related to civic religious literacy in Canada especially. The “Thought Corner” unpacks common questions, concerns, and points of tension using religious literacy skills.

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June 2021 Newsletter

 

CCRL Updates

Canada has been shaken in the recent weeks and days. The mass grave of 215 Indigenous children from a residential school in Kamloops, BC and the targeted killing of a Muslim family in London, ON have left us speechless. Global events have affected many groups in Canada too, such as the 11-day conflict in Gaza and Israel and a recent ban in New South Wale against Sikh students wearing their kirpan to schools.

In these difficult times, we mourn and take stock. What led to these events? What can we do? Human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

From our work, we know that a non-neutral response includes introspection, dialogue, and taking a stance. Sometimes, people look down on dialogue but that’s where it often starts. Dialogue is part of relationship building, which is crucial to move forward.

Our team is going through these steps. We are doing this individually, together, and with our incredible partners because we know that these complex issues cannot be tackled alone.

Partners in our "Discussing Racism: Leading Change from Multifaith Spaces" project: (counterclockwise) Dr. Moussa Magassa, Sheila Flood, Ivan Paquette, Dr. W. Y. Alice Chan (myself)
Partners in our “Discussing Racism: Leading Change from Multifaith Spaces” project: (counterclockwise) Dr. Moussa Magassa, Sheila Flood, Ivan Paquette, Dr. W. Y. Alice Chan (myself)

We thank you for supporting our work on religious literacy too. You are part of our process towards change.

The headlines below reflect the sadness, frustration, and hurt among many communities. They are unfortunate reminders that more religious literacy is needed to foster understanding. Please check out Dr. Hicham Tiflati’s “Thought Corner” (below) on the “Islamization of identity” too (2 min read). His thoughts are even more relevant for many brown-skinned people in light of the London attacks.

Again, thank you for making change with us. If you would like to support, collaborate, or connect with us in any way, please reach out at any time. You are welcome.

Sincerely,

Alice

CCRL Executive Director & Co-Founder


The Pulse

Orange flowers

How does belief (religious or not) inform life and society in Canada today? Here are some headlines that show how religious, spiritual, and non-religious perspectives remain part of our daily lives and society. They show the struggles, virtues, and influence of Canadians in local and global communities. Some are one-on-one interactions while others are systemic, good and bad. 

Follow our Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts for headlines on a regular basis. Note, these headlines do not indicate endorsement but are shared for the purpose of awareness.

Canada:

Territories:

British Columbia:

Alberta:

Prairies:

Ontario:

Quebec:

Atlantic Provinces:

International:

 


think corner

Religious Literacy Thought Corner

Every issue, this section will focus on one specific aspect of society or identity. Using religious literacy skills and framework, our team will briefly prompt how to identify and perceive the influence of religion, spirituality, and non-religious belief in our lives and world.

In this issue, Dr. Hicham Tiflati, our Quebec Regional Director discusses: “The ‘Islamization’ of Identity.”

A meme that says "Aren't Muslims supposed to be fasting during the day in Ramadhan?" Response: "I'm Sikh Sir". Response "Oh sorry, get well soon bro.."
A meme shared by Prof. Simran Jeet Singh (https://twitter.com/simran/status/1126549943437676545?s=20)

Religious literacy challenges ignorance, discrimination, conflict, and exclusion. This ignorance can manifest itself in the  “Islamization” of other identities, when non-Muslims are assumed to be Muslim. Faith identities are primarily seen as religious-based identities through which individuals confess their belief to a deity and pledge allegiance to a set of traditions. These identities also embody many cultural and ethnic forms.

For example, the anti-Muslim hate Sikh rhetoric is not a new phenomenon. It has been happening for a long time and reached its peak after 9/11–and continuing on a high since then. It varied from insults, discrimination, and ‘Hello bin Laden’ to mass shootings. Since 9/11, Islamophobia has spread and targeted groups indiscriminately. Sikhs, who wear a turban as an article of faith, have often been mistaken for Muslims, therefore labeled as a “legitimate target.”

The first victim of a 9/11 “revenge killing” was Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh-American gas station owner. On September 15, 2001, he was shot dead in Arizona. The perpetrator mistook him for an Arab Muslim. In 2012 in Wisconsin, another shooter stormed the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin Oak Creek, Killing 6 at a Sikh Temple Near Milwaukee.

This global phenomenon led Britain’s first turban-wearing Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi to call for a change to the definition of Islamophobia to include ‘perceived Muslimness’ which he says would protect other groups from persecution. Canada has the second largest Sikh population in the world, outside of India so this concern is relevant and local.

Many Sikh parents are finding it extremely difficult to explain to their children why they are being targeted with Islamophobic attacks, when they themselves are not Muslim. Nonetheless, Sikhs warn against saying  ‘We’re not Muslim’ as defence. Saying, ‘Don’t hate me, I’m not a Muslim’ is not a response Sikhs tend to make. Their own religious consciousness allows them to have the awareness of how saying this would  demonize another religious group.

To engage with fellow members of our society, we need to recognize that assuming an individual’s Muslim identity based on race is racialized Islamophobia. It is common for anyone with Brown skin to be targeted for being Muslim–this includes Arabs Christians, Latinos, Hindus, and many others. The perpetrators fail to separate radical terrorist groups from Muslims.   This is bigotry and shows the palpable need for a society that embodies religious literacy.

 

 

 

Dr. Hicham Tiflati, our CCRL Quebec Regional Director and Subject Matter Expert

 

 

 


Cultural/Holy days (June and July 2021)

This list of dates are generally commemorated or observed by many individuals within a community. Some individuals from each community may not adhere to the cultural/holy days themselves. It is not a comprehensive list of cultural/holy days worldwide but a list of those commonly recognized across parts of Canada. Our team wishes you a rejuvenating time of contemplation and community support this June and July.

 

June 2021

JUNE 3 – Corpus Christi (some Christians)

JUNE 16 – Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Sahib (Sikhs)

JUNE 20   Summer Solstice (various groups)

JUNE 21 –  National Indigenous Peoples Day, World Humanist Day (Humanists)

JUNE 24   St. Jean Baptiste (Catholics, predominantly in Quebec)

 

July 2021

JULY 9 – Martyrdom of the Báb (Baha’is)

JULY 12  Rath Yatra (some Hindus)

JULY 17 – Tisha B’Av (ends on July 18, some Jewish people)

JULY 20 – Eid-al-Adha (Muslims)

JULY 24 – Dharma Day (Theravada Buddhists), Guru Purinima (some Hindus), Pioneer Day (Latter Day Saints)

 

 

 

 

Photo sources (top to bottom): Photo by Sergey Shmidt and Ravi Pinisetti on Unsplash.