Celebrating 150 Years of Contributions from Canada’s Faith Communities

“The story of Confederation would not be complete without including the story of faith. Faith has formed a significant part of who we are as Canadians,” Greg Pennoyer, the director of Faith in Canada 150 (FC150), said. “If you pulled out all the faith-based organizations in East Vancouver for example, the numbers say it would be impossible to deal with all the social problems. Religious groups, of various kinds, are making an extraordinary contribution to the common good of this country. Faith has made a significant contribution to Canadians’ lives over the past one and a half centuries.”

Several initiatives have been planned by FC150 for this year, including public dialogues, conferences, photo exhibits, lunches, panels and meetings nationwide. Pennoyer is encouraging people to contribute to FC150’s “Golden Thread” initiative, named after Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s 1982 comment that “faith is the golden thread that binds all of us together”. FC150’s parent group, the Hamilton-based Cardus Foundation, is offering prizes for stories of faith in common life from those 30 or younger. For those 14 to 18, $1,000 will be awarded for the best written story and $1,000 for the best video. Four $100 gift cards will go to the runners up. For those 19 – 30, the winner will receive $5000 for the best text or video and there will be four $250 gift cards awarded to the runners up.

Cardus is also sponsoring a faith-based literary prize. The winning poets and short story writers of the Ross and David Mitchell Prize for Faith and Writing will each receive $10,000. Second prize winners will receive $2,500. The deadline is June 30th. The prize is expected to be awarded every second year ongoing.

Everyone is encouraged to contribute stories to the Thread of a Thousand Stories project. “Stories of faith are not always positive,” Pennoyer said. “People are also welcome to tell their stories of grief and loss.”

The Cabinet of Canadians, made up of 50 leaders of faith communities across Canada, is chaired by Dr. Andrew Bennett, Canada’s first Ambassador for Religious Freedom and Head of the Office of Religious Freedom from 2013 to 2016. He is currently a Cardus senior fellow and director of Cardus Law, and a Research Fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs in Washington, D.C. The Cabinet hopes to guide Canadians though faith based conversations and to model interfaith dialogue.

The Faith Alliance Network, made up of 276 organizations (Pennoyer would welcome more), is a body committed to celebrating and telling Canadian stories of faith. And the Millennial Summit, a gathering of 75, selected under the age of 35, leaders from faith-based communities across Canada, will meet in Winnipeg this summer, to discuss the theme of living together in spite of religious differences.

“There are many differences between faith communities,” Pennoyer said. “People often believe that religion is a source of division. But, in Canada, that’s not true. It’s often been a source of coming together. We’re not doing it perfectly, but we’re doing it better than a lot of other places.”

For more information go to www.faithincanada150.ca