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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April 2023 Newsletter
Spring is a time of change and growth, and CCRL is in step with the season!
After 4.5 years of leadership, our Board Chair is leaving CCRL to become the President of the Law Commission of Canada. We will greatly miss Dr. Shauna Van Praagh’s guidance and support, as she was instrumental to CCRL’s steady growth and development. In her place, we are excited to welcome Dr. Bryan Hillis as Interim Chair and Dr. Siebren Miedema as Interim Vice Chair. Both directors have been part of CCRL for years and we couldn’t ask for more committed and passionate leaders.
There is great change and growth in our project work too. In addition to our current projects, we are collaborating with posAbilities to explore questions around the intersection of intellectual disability and religious literacy. This is an important addition to the community-based and intersectional work we aim to do, and we are very grateful that posAbilities approached us to explore this together.
As you can see, there is a lot of excitement at CCRL. We are troubled about the ongoing conflict in Iran, Israel, and Sudan, and aware of the connections that many Canadians have there, but we remain excited as we see smiles and initiatives across the country as Ramadan, Vaisahki, Passover, and Easter were celebrated this April. It is clear that despite the hard times, there is still much to celebrate and be thankful for, as seen in the headlines below.
If you want to understand these celebrations more, or consider how to engage with them or those who are celebrating, please don’t miss this month’s Thought Corner (below) by Dr. John Valk on: “How do we engage the religious, spiritual, or non-religious other?” He explains why it is important to engage with these aspects of culture, and how to understand culture beyond food and clothing.
Of course, if you would like to speak about this in greater detail, we are here and happy to chat with you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out at any time. You are welcome.
CCRL Executive Director & Co-Founder
CCRL is a registered charity. Our work is project-based and predominantly funded by grants. Your financial support is welcome.
From the article Ramadan in Nunavut: Kabuli pulao, with Iqaluit lawyer Shaanzéh Ataullahjan
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, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts for regular updates. Note, these headlines do not indicate endorsement but are shared for the purpose of awareness and understanding.
- Douglas Todd: Canadian Indigenous spirituality anything but monolithic Vancouver Sun
- L’islamophobie bien ancrée au Canada, selon un comité sénatorial La Presse
- Ramadan draws focus on more workplace support for Muslim employees Global News
- Carcross/Tagish First Nation in Yukon celebrates commitment to protecting its river CBC North
- ‘It’s going to take the community’: Yukon faces Canada’s worst toxic drug death rate CBC North
- Ramadan in Nunavut: Kabuli pulao, with Iqaluit lawyer Shaanzéh Ataullahjan Nunatsiaq News
- Yongwook Seong reimagines Inuit community’s dwellings and cultures with Midjourney Canadian Architecture News
BC and Alberta:
- Faith leaders stress unifying power of religion The Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton
- Spiritual connection with nature transcends politics, religion UBC News
- This organization is providing a platform for Indian Muslims in Canada CBC Calgary
- Vaisakhi: celebrating Sikh identity and contributions in Canada Delta Optimist
Saskatchewan and Manitoba:
- Opinion: Culture war against Saskatchewan religious schools must cease Saskatoon StarPhoenix
- ‘This is my pride’: Manitobans mark province’s 1st official Turban Day CBC Manitoba
- Saskatchewan woman organizes fundraiser to mark four years with new kidney Saskatoon StarPhoenix
- Winnipeg police say another woman’s body has been found in a landfill Winnipeg Sun
- Artist-in-residence Zina Saro-Wiwa e-flux education
- Inmates on suicide watch only offered the Bible at Sudbury Jail Sudbury.com
- Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug signs trilateral coordination agreement with Canada and Ontario to support First Nations-led child and family services Indigenous Services Canada
- Drainville issues directive banning religious practices in Quebec public schools Montreal Gazette
- Les juges doivent se conformer à la loi 21, estime un organisme citoyen Le Devoir
- Man sentenced for antisemitic incidents in Côte-St-Luc Montreal Gazette
- Quebecers more likely to have unfavourable views of all religions than rest of Canada: poll National Post
- Early Easter hampers Newfoundland tradition of eating seal on Good Friday The Globe & Mail
- Easter marks a bittersweet holiday for Ukrainians in the Maritimes CTV Atlantic
- IN PHOTOS: Sikh holy day celebrations take place in Charlottetown Saltwire
- Two-spirit alliance spearheading new housing project in Halifax CBC Nova Scotia
- At many Passover Seders, Israel unrest will be on the table Religion News Service
- Religious leaders urge cessation of hostilities in Sudan conflict Sudan Tribune
- Secular organizers say interfaith spaces should include atheists, nonbelievers Religion News Service
- What does ‘secularism’ mean in the Iran protests? The Conversation
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, perceive, and undestand the influence of religion, spirituality, and non-religious belief in our lives and world. Past Thought Corners are here.
In this issue, Dr. John Valk discusses:
How do we engage the religious, spiritual, or non-religious other?
We live in a world of increasing diversity.
Our Canadian work and community spaces reveal ethnic and cultural diversity. We increasingly respect and even celebrate that diversity in the public square. But what about the diversity of religious, spiritual, or non-religious worldviews? What do we know about that kind of diversity, and the beliefs and values associated with it? Canadians may well have common values but a lack of awareness of the worldview groundings of those values can lead to misunderstandings, tensions, and even the silencing of certain worldview voices. Is it possible to enhance worldview literacy to add even more richness to the diversity in this country?
An Erasmus+ funded project has unfolded in the European context that may provide some guidance and direction here. Entitled “Sharing Worldviews: Learning in Encounters for Common Values in Diversity”, it seeks to engage diverse worldview voices through learning encounters. Its goal is to equip citizens with the ability to engage in dialogue in mutual respect of different worldviews. It seeks to overcome tensions that often flare up in the public square because of this diversity. Specifically, it aims to engage students early in the learning process in the classroom, encourage international collaborations, create an online platform to promote religious literacy, or worldview literacy as it is understood in many parts of Europe, and help students and teachers encounter the religious, spiritual, and non-religious other.
So, why might this be important?
Ninian Smart, a pioneer in the development of religious studies, stated:
“An educated person should know about and have a feel for many things, but perhaps the most important is to have an understanding of some of the chief worldviews which have shaped and are now shaping human culture and action” (Worldviews, 1983).
Smart recognized that much can be learned from the study of worldviews and how they shape thinking and behaviours. The German philologist Max Müller said that:
“he who knows one, knows none.”
Müller recognized that it is only in our encounters with others that we come to know ourselves – our worldviews – in greater depth.
Understanding culture beyond food and clothing
An episode of CBC’s The Nature of Things entitled “True Survivors”, noted that each culture has a view of the world – a worldview – that goes far beyond food and clothing. That worldview asks: What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be alive? What is our place in the world? These are existential concerns, and we are at the juncture where they become globally important.
We often celebrate our diversity in Canada in festive displays of distinctive ethnic food and clothing. This is an excellent way to bring diverse people together as a beginning initiative. But it is important for us to also get beyond the superficial, for issues facing us today warrant deeper engagement. What can a greater understanding of worldview diversity contribute to the richness of Canada, or any other country?
Moving beyond fear to engagement
Diversity is the essence of the world that we inhabit. We see it on vivid display in nature – and marvel at its beauty. Our appreciation of the diversity of nature is also enhanced when we better understand and experience it directly. And what of human diversity? When we become more aware of it, we also come to better understand and appreciate it, including the worldview diversity that accompanies it. But we all too often fear what we do not know. Therefore, enhancing knowledge and awareness of worldview diversity becomes an important step in overcoming that fear.
A deeper understanding of the religious, spiritual, or non-religious other, and their deepest existential concerns – how to live well, what it means to be human, and more – becomes necessary as we face the challenges of today and tomorrow. Might a “Sharing Worldviews” approach enhance public understanding, and in turn make us all the richer?
John Valk is a retired Professor of Worldview Studies at the University of New Brunswick and CCRL Board Member.
To read other ways to use religious literacy, check out other Thought Corner contributions here: https://ccrl-clrc.ca/religious-literacy-resources/thought-corner/
Cultural/Holy days (April & May 2023)
This list of dates is 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, celebration, and community support this April and May.
From the article above IN PHOTOS: Sikh holy day celebrations take place in Charlottetown
APR 4 – Mahavir Jayanti (Jains)
APR 5 – Passover begins at sunset (Jewish people, until Apr 13)
APR 6 – Maundy Thursday (various Christian groups), Theravada New Year (Theravada Buddhists), Hanuman Jayanti (Hindus)
APR 7 – Good Friday (Protestant and Catholic Christians)
APR 9 – Easter Sunday (Protestant and Catholic Christians)
APR 14 – Vaisakhi/Baisakhi (Sikhs, Hindus), Good Friday (Orthodox Christians)
APR 16 – Easter Sunday (Orthodox Christians)
APR 18 – Birthday of Guru Anga Dev (Sikhs), Laylat-al-Qadr (various Muslim groups)
APR 20 – First Day of Ridvan (until May 2, Baha’i)
APR 21 – Eid al-Fitr (until April 22, Muslims)
APR 22 – Earth Day (Humanists and various other groups), Akshaya Tritiya (Hindus and Jains)
APR 24 – St. George’s Day (Christians in Newfoundland and Labrador)
MAY 1 – Beltane (Wiccans)
MAY 5 – Vesak or Buddha Purnima (Mahayana, Theravadan, and Riwoche Tibet Buddhism)
MAY 8 – St. Mark’s Feast (Coptic Christians)
MAY 19 – Savitri Pooja (Hindus)
MAY 26 – Buddha’s Birthday (Buddhists)
MAY 24 – Declaration of the Bab (until May 25, Baha’i)
MAY 29 – Ascension of Bahá u’ lláh (until May 30, Baha’i)