Friday, November 15, 2013

The Canadian Interfaith Conversation: Charter Vision (January 2013)

The practice of religion and its impact on the identities of Canadians is an enduring feature of this country. The Charter Vision of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation is to advocate for religion in a pluralistic society and in Canadian public life. We want to promote harmony and spiritual insight among religions and religious communities in Canada, strengthen our society’s moral foundations, and work for greater realization of the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion for the sake of the common good and an engaged citizenship.

Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is founded on principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law, and that everyone has the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion. Issues of the Common Good and Harmony in Society Beginning from positions of deep respect and a deep acknowledgment of pluralism, we also want to address together issues of concern to the common good of all. We have already been working together on addressing poverty, caring for the Earth, and investing in peace1. We also recognize the particular moment we are in, one of working for greater truth and reconciliation between aboriginal peoples in Canada and later arrivals. This situation calls us to deeper understanding of past wrongs and shared future hopes for living in harmony together. Reconciliation is, fundamentally, a spiritual process that needs to be accomplished first in the hearts of Canadians.

Engaging issues involves both a speaking inward to one another and a speaking outward to society and the public. Time for Inspired Leadership and Action, 2010 Interfaith Partnership, 2010 Religious Leaders’ Summit, June 2010.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law... Article 2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) Freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media communication;
(c) Freedom of peaceful assembly
(d) Freedom of association

Local and Canadian

Our preference is for favouring and supporting local interfaith relationship building and collaboration. We also want to facilitate the engagement and bringing together of heads of religious communities in Canada on the issues of the day. Each of these dimensions, local and Canadian, would be incomplete on their own.


Overall, we see this as a process of organic development of relationships, not primarily a structural organizational development. Nevertheless, as part of civil society we have an obligation to participate in the issues of the day. When acting together we may also make common cause with like-minded groups.

Acting Together

The Canadian Interfaith Conversation will cooperate whenever possible with existing interfaith initiatives, and may also sponsor and facilitate participation and engagement in interfaith events and initiatives locally, regionally, and at the Federal level. Decisions are made on the consensus model. Unless explicitly given the authority by all who are on the contact list, the Canadian Interfaith Conversation will not speak or advocate in the name of the organizations or persons who are on its contact list. Likewise, the efforts of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation do not bind the organizations or persons who are on its contact list.

Leadership: Chair and Secretariat

The leadership of this Canadian Interfaith Conversation rotates from one faith community to another. The Canadian Council of Churches ( has played an initiating role through the provision of a Chair and Secretariat from the beginning of this initiative in 2009 until 2012. The Bahá'í Community of Canada ( is providing leadership in the next rotation from 2012 to 2015. Ordinarily the leadership will rotate every three years. The Chair prepares and leads regularly scheduled meetings. The Secretariat provides administrative and communications support to facilitate the function of this Canadian Interfaith Conversation.

A small Executive Committee may be formed composed of representatives from distinct religious traditions to facilitate cooperation. In 2012 the members of that Executive Committee include Aileen Van Ginkel from The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, Zul Kassamali from the The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada, Gerald Filson from the Bahá’í Community of Canada and Karen Hamilton from The Canadian Council of Churches. Ordinarily a member of the Executive Committee serves for a period of 3 years.


Regarding human and financial resources, we will continue to focus on a vision that may or may not attract those resources. We endorse and commend those organizations that step in to take up the rotating leadership role and support specific initiatives as they arise. Participation

Those who are drawn to this charter vision are invited to participate. This is an open, voluntary conversation. Each faith community is invited to work out and define, internally when appropriate, their own participation and accountability. At the same time, those gathered around the table must be representative of their home 'bodies' and in a relationship that is accountable both to the Canadian Interfaith Conversation and with the community or organization they are representing. All who participate are committed to being on the journey together.

This may result in the participation of multiple voices from a given faith community. The values behind this Charter Vision define the participation. An honest open dialogue and clarity of purpose is important so that the safety and security of the table is preserved.

Contact List

While there are currently no formal members of the Canadian Interfaith Conversation, the secretariat keeps a listing of organizations and representatives/participants who have requested to be on a contact list.

No comments:

Post a Comment