This Week in Canadian Religion 2018-06-17

by | June 17, 2018


By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

“MONTREAL – A Quebec mayor has found a novel way around a Supreme Court ruling forbidding prayers at municipal council meetings — reading the national anthem.

In its French version, O Canada is loaded with Christian imagery. Its first verse hails a Canada carrying the cross in its arms and invokes “valour steeped in faith.” A later, seldom-sung verse declares, “Christ is king.”

On Monday, Louiseville Mayor Yvon Deshaies opened the monthly council meeting by asking people to stand as he recited an abridged version of the anthem, which included the lines about the cross and faith as well as a French translation of “God keep our land glorious and free,” from the English O Canada.

Deshaies then hung a crucifix on the wall of the community centre where the meeting was held, drawing applause from most of the roughly 70 people in attendance

In an interview Wednesday, he said his actions were in response to news about religious minorities seeking to work as police officers in Quebec while wearing such symbols as the hijab and turban. “Where are we headed?” he asked.”


“Imagine the reaction of Vancouver residents if a U.S. airline or bank created a map showing Canada as an administrative region of the United Kingdom.

Let’s say that United Airlines or Bank of America Corp. did this to win the approval of British prime minister Theresa May, who is in a position to grant concessions to these corporations.

Canadians would be furious. They would declare that Canada ceased to be a colony in 1867 when it became independent.

No doubt, some would launch boycotts against United Airlines or the Bank of America. Canadians would also hold demonstrations outside the offending corporations’ offices”


“The top of the wikuom is just visible from the retirement residence of the Sisters of Charity. Its off-white canvas approximates the birch bark the Mi’kmaq people used to construct their homes when they ranged across what are now the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada. Pine poles hold the structure up and leave an opening to release smoke from ceremonial fires. Inside the wikuom (the Mi’kmaq word for what you may have known as “wigwam”), Catherine Martin, a filmmaker and Mi’kmaw activist, leads ritual prayers, burning sage and sweetgrass, cedar and tobacco, and teaching visitors about her people’s way.

The wikuom is not a relic of the past. It is an invocation of a future in which First Nationsare respected as equals in Canada.

Last spring, when the wikuom was erected at the University of Mount St. Vincent, Ms. Martin held a visiting chair in the women’s studies department at the school, founded by the Sisters of Charity in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1873. The prayers she offered were for the victims and survivors of Canada’s centuries-long drive to eradicate its native peoples—in particular, the Mi’kmaq children forcibly taken from their families on reserves and sent to the government-sponsored boarding school the Sisters of Charity staffed for close to four decades. Former students of the Shubenacadie Residential School tell of being beaten, physically scarred for speaking their native language, forbidden from communicating with siblings, humiliated for wetting the bed and whipped with leather cat tails if they attempted to escape.”


Andre Schutten with the Association for Reforms Political Action slammed the Supreme Court decision on Trinity Western’s law school, saying it sends a bad message about religious freedoms in Canada.”


“The Supreme Court has upheld the right of provincial law societies to reject the graduates of a proposed Christian law school over its requirement that students abstain from sex outside of heterosexual marriage.

In a highly anticipated contest between religious freedom and equality, most of the court said the limit on religious freedom was a minor one – well short of “forced apostasy,” as five of the judges put it. By comparison, the effects on equality, if the school had been accredited, would have been large enough to threaten the integrity of the legal system, the judges said.

The court had been asked whether the law societies of British Columbia and Ontario were within their rights when they voted not to give licences to graduates of Trinity Western University’s proposed law school at its campus in Langley, B.C. In a pair of 7-2 rulings, the court said they were.”


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott:

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