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Pratique religieuse minoritaire

Islam in Canada
A 2016 survey by the Environics Institute found that since 2006, there has been a rise in the number of Muslims in Canada attending mosques for prayer. Whereas broader affiliation trends in Canada show youth leaving religion, observance among Muslim youth is rising. According to the survey, second-generation Muslim Canadian youth are the most religiously observant among Canada’s Muslim population. Almost half (48%) report attending mosque once a week, an increase from 41% in 2006. Canadian documentary Muzeena in the Middle (Hoda Elatawi, 2014) documents one Canadian Muslim’s journey to reconcile her various identities as an outspoken lawyer, Muslim, women, and mother.
Over the last ten years, the wearing of head coverings has increased among the younger generation. About half (53%) of Muslim women in Canada report wearing the hijab, chador, or niqab in public in 2016. The Federal Court of Appeal determined in 2015 that head coverings, including the niqab, could be worn during the Canadian citizenship ceremony in the Zunera Ishaq v. The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration case.

Judaism in Canada
According to the 2018 Survey of Jews in Canada by the Environics Institute, 58% of Canadian Jews say that themselves, or someone in their home, is a member of a synagogue, temple or prayer group. Jews from Orthodox and Modern Orthodox denominations are more likely to be members of a synagogue (89%) while reform Jews are less likely (56%). Many Canadian Jews (47%) report being members of at least one Jewish organisation like a Jewish community centre. Most Canadian Jews do not attend synagogue weekly while around 40% attend a few times a year. About 80% report donating to Jewish charities. Approximately 34% report lighting Sabbath candles each week with young Canadian Jews being more likely to light Sabbath candles (41%) compared to adults (31%). Among Canadian Jews who have a non-Jewish partner, 51% report putting up a Christmas or New Year’s Tree.
The Jewish holiday Sukkot became the focus of a 2004 Supreme Court of Canada case called Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem. A condominium property in Montreal argued that the Orthodox Jewish practice of constructing sukkot (a sukkah is a temporary tent-like structure in which Jews are supposed to dwell during the week-long celebration of Sukkot) on balconies during the week-long holiday violated the condo’s code of conduct. The court found that because the practice of constructing the sukkah was a sincerely held belief that stemmed from Amselem’s religious convictions, restricting the practice violated their religious freedoms as guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Sikhism in Canada
Canadian Sikhs make up one of Canada’s largest non-Christian religious groups. Most major cities in Canada have gurdwaras that act as Punjabi language schools, spaces for community and religious classes, meeting places for elderly Sikhs, as well as women’s and youth groups. Some gurdwaras have gymnasiums for sports activities and March or summer break camps for children. The first gurdwara built in Canada was the Vancouver Sikh Temple in 1908.
In 1991, Baltej Singh Dhillon became a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. He fought and won the right for Sikhs to wear a turban instead of the Mounties’ cap or Stetson as part of the official RCMP uniform. In 2019, another change to the RCMP dress code granted officers the ability to grow and wear a full beard.
In 2001, after a Sikh boy’s kirpan (kirpan is a sword or a knife of any size and shape, carried by Sikhs) was dropped on a Quebec school ground, the school board sought to ban the religious object from school property. The case made its way to the Supreme Court of Canada. In Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguierite-Bourgeoys the court found that restricting the kirpan from school property violated the boy’s Charter right to freedom of religion.

See Jakobsh, Doris R. “The Sikh Diaspora.” In Sikhism, 84–104. Honolulu : University of Hawai’i Press, 2012.

Indigenous Spiritualities in Canada
In 1876, the Indian Act was instated as part of a coherent government effort to assimilate Indigenous populations to colonial Euro-Canadian society. Central to the Act was prohibiting the practices of Indigenous communities such as the Potlatch ceremony. Indigenous communities rejected the 1884 Potlach ban, which led to an amendment in 1886 that criminalised all Indigenous festivals, dance, and ceremonies. An amendment to the Indian Act removed the bans in 1951.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) (2015) calls on all levels of the Canadian government to adopt and implement the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as a central tool for reconciliation. Both the TRC and UNDRIP assert the rights of Indigenous peoples to use and maintain traditional medicines and health practices. Indigenous peoples also have the right to promote, develop and maintain their own institutions, customs, spirituality, traditions, procedures, practices and juridical systems or customs in line with standards set in international human rights legislation.
In 1991, Glacier Resorts filed a proposal to build a ski resort on Ktunaxa Territory (specifically in an area called Qat’muk located in the larger Ktunaxa territory of Jumbo Valley). The Ktunaxa raised concerns during provincial consultations that this project would harm their sacred land. Specifically, the Ktunaxa argued that development at Qat’muk would drive away the Grizzly Bear Spirit, their focal point of worship. In Ktunaxa Nation v. British Columbia (Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations) (2017), the court concluded that the Charter right to religious freedom protects freedom of religious belief and religious practice, but not the focal point of worship. The court ultimately ruled against the Ktunaxa Nation. In 2020, the Ktunaxa Nation received $21 million dollars to turn Jumbo Valley into a conservation zone.

See Sayers, Alana. “Canadian Indian Act Modernism.” Modernism/Modernity Print Plus 5, No. 4 (2021).

Hinduism in Canada
The 2011 National Household Survey reported that 497, 965 Canadians self-identify as Hindu, an increase from 297, 200 in the 2001 census. Hindu practices take many forms including individual daily puja rituals (flower or fruit offerings to a god or goddess) in the home or temple as well as shrine visits within the community.
Canadian cities with sizeable Hindu populations, such as Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, Edmonton, and St. John’s, have Hindu temples where services and festivals occur. The Vishnu Mandir, located in Richmond Hill, Ontario, hosts services in Sanskrit, Hindi, and English. Practitioners can attend the temple for pujas and samaskaras (rites of passage rituals that mark birth, marriage, and death). Some temples are devoted to individual deities, while others, like the Vishnu Mandir, host alters for several Hindu gods and goddesses. The role temples play in each city and the services and programs that they offer depends on the needs of that specific community.

See “Hinduism.” Canada and the World Backgrounder. Waterloo, Canada : Rupert J. Taylor, December 1999.

Buddhism in Canada
According to the 2011 National Household Survey, there are 366, 830 self-identified Buddhists in Canada. Celebrations and days of observance differ among Buddhist traditions. The Vancouver Buddhist Temple (Pure Land tradition) follows their days of celebration and observance with a meal served by temple volunteers. Some examples include : Nehan-e (Nirvana Day), Hanamatsuri (Buddha Day), and Jodo-e (Bodhi Day).
While some Canadian scholars claim that the Mahāyāna tradition places less emphasis on the temple, Vietnamese and Chinese communities in Canada consider the temple to be central for key rituals like memorials, Tết (Spring Festival, Lunar New Year, or Vietnamese Lunar New Year), and the celebration of Buddha’s birthday. The Toronto Mahavihara (Buddhist Centre) became the first Canadian Theravāda temple in 1978. Sermons are posted on their website, along with information regarding Sunday Dhamma school, the Aloka Pooja Calendar where individuals and families can reserve a time to commemorate a loved one or special occasion. Many of these temples offer guided meditation as well.
A number of Buddhist monasteries are located in Canada including the Arrow River Forest Hermitage (Theravāda), the Sati Saraniya Hermitage (Theravāda), the Tisarana Buddhist Monastery (Thai Forest Tradition), and the Birken Forest Buddhist Monastery (Thai Forest Tradition). Fo Guang Shan (Mahāyāna), a Humanistic Buddhist organisation, has centres throughout Canada, including temples in Toronto and Vancouver.

 Hori, Victor Sōgen, John S. Harding, and Alexander Duncan Soucy. Wild Geese : Buddhism in Canada. Montreal : McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2010.
 Matthews, Bruce. “Buddhism in Canada.” In Westward Dharma : Buddhism beyond Asia, edited by Charles S. Prebish and Martin Baumann, 120–38. ACLS Humanities E-Book. Berkeley : University of California Press, 2002.

D 1er septembre 2021    AHannah McKillop

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