Headquarters: Faith in Canada 150

Updates from Cardus on the renewal of social architecture.
Appears in Winter 2015 Issue: Remembering Forward
December 1st, 2015

DECEMBER 2015 | Faith is a good in our society, although you might not know it from the headlines today. We have grown forgetful of the contribution faith has made to our country, its institutions, and our common life. For more than 450 years, faith has shaped the human landscape of Canada: it has shaped how we imagine our life together, and it has given shape to a country that stands apart in a world deeply scarred by conflict, prejudice, and brutality. This is the story that Cardus, through the Faith in Canada 150 initiative, will tell.

Faith finds itself in story. The great religions of the world express themselves in the full abundance of storytelling forms: long narrative poems, personal histories, parables, proverb collections, tales from the immediate long ago. The story is the house where the truth of faith lives and can be called upon.

In the beginning, 150 years ago, when Canada began its process of Confederation, we were almost exclusively a house of Christian faith, divided into separate dwellings for Catholicism and Protestantism. But the story isn't so neat and tidy. There were, of course, vibrant and abundant faiths among the many First Nations people across the landmass as well. Where they were not actively suppressed, they were cast out by those going about the business of founding a nineteenth-century nation-state.

Faith in Canada 150 seeks to reframe the narrative, not with reproach, but by reconnecting Canadians with the reality that faith is still alive today as an energetic, positive source of celebration. As the old spiritual has it, there is a balm in Gilead. Renewal, revitalization, and uplift can be found in refreshing the story of faith in Canada.

In order to galvanize such a broad public conversation, and as a way to live out our commitments to faith communities across Canada, Cardus is planning a set of compelling initiatives that will enable Canadians to reengage stories of faith. These events, both local and national in scope and designed for the general public as well as specific groups, will center on five program areas: events, publishing, research, media, and the web. They will feature public celebrations in Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver, and they will invest heavily in the intellectual and cultural foundations of Canadian society, with endeavours such as a photography exhibition, a new major Canadian poetry prize, and a national conference that gathers Canada's greatest minds to explore religion in our common life.

At the end of Canada's sesquicentennial year, Faith in Canada 150 will have acted as a vital source of robust, eloquent, engaging conversation about the importance of the sacred, the transcendent, the religious in the life of our country.

 

Greg Pennoyer is the Director of Faith in Canada 150. Greg has a passion for igniting public dialogue on the topic of spirituality and the human condition. As Executive Director of The Humanitas Group, Greg co-lead the development of an art exhibition that probed the question of what it means to be human. He has also produced two books of reflection and art that continue on that theme.

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