“Religious, spiritual, and non-religious understanding in rural Canada: A pilot project to promote social and economic well-being through religious literacy.” 


This project is Phase 1 of a multi-year project that aims to improve the social and economic well-being of rural communities connected to the Islamic Families and Social Services Association in Edmonton and the Keepers of the Circle Indigenous Hub in Temiskaming Shores and Kirkland Lake, Ontario. This phase focuses on adult education training.


As newcomers settle in rural areas there have been shifts in socio-cultural dynamics, such as in local religious, spiritual, and non-religious demographics. Our community networks have expressed an explicit need to support refugees, migrant workers, Indigenous peoples, and marginalized groups in rural areas. Support for cultural integration and civic inclusion in these areas are severely lacking as teaching about civic identities and citizenship education is challenging in homogeneous rural classrooms (Pattison-Meek, 2012) and conceptions of power and hierarchy in many conservative rural communities often conflict with postsecondary education systems (Atkin, 2003). Thus, this project seeks to foster an understanding of religious, spiritual and non-religious identities in rural areas, where rural areas are places that have smaller populations, are distant from urban areas and have distinct identities and cultural ties (Gadsby & Samson, 2016).