This past January I joined one of the annual programs put on by the John Humphrey’s Centre called the Peace-builders Program. The Peace-builders Program is a youth group for people between the ages of 18-30 that explores the diverse religious and spirituality groups of Edmonton. This exploration is intended to bring into light the role that faith plays in public life as today’s world becomes increasingly more secularized and faith a more taboo topic meant only for the private sphere, creating mistrust and misunderstandings. Peace-builders intends to dispel these misconceptions by providing a space for youth to learn - either from each other, faith community leaders, or community members – question, reflect and engage with differing concepts of religion and faith. The Peace-builders goal is to create a shift from religious tolerance to true appreciation and understanding that aids in fostering democracy and human rights worldwide.
Over 12 weeks we visited six different faith centres; Hindu, Baha’i and Buddhist centres, a Jewish Synagogue, a Muslim Mosque and a Catholic Church. We additionally had a local Métis elder meet with us at the Stanley Milner Library to teach us Indigenous Traditions and beliefs. Interspersed between these faith centre visits were several discussion sessions where we focused more ...
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...ny of my fellow participants and I are seeking ways to encourage this respect for human rights and dignity through local projects that will hopefully have a wider impact. One major project is being deciding on now between the group which will be undertaken. Some interesting suggestions so far include “Spirituality Days” multi-religious festival which will focus on education through multiple stands and activities; or we would create maps of Edmonton’s religious and spirituality spaces both in paper pamphlet form as well as some permanent fixtures placed in strategic locations across the city such as at the university, airport and city hall. The challenge for us now is to undertake a project that will be impactful on promoting religious and spirituality appreciation immediately and continue to be impactful in the long run to create a community of acceptance and peace.
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