Published in the Montreal Gazette last week, this article discusses the "dangers of portraying all members of any group as a homogeneous entity", as evidenced in the tragic January 29th attack on a mosque in Ste-Foy, Quebec, and the bomb threat against Muslim students at Concordia University on March 1st.
The authors argue that training in religious literacy could bring about "purposeful dialogue" rather than conflicts based on misinformation. Since 2008, Quebec schools (private and public, all grades) have implemented the Ethics and Religious Culture (ERC) program, which is designed to foster “understanding of the other” and the “pursuit of the common good.” Studies of this religious literacy program have concluded that "ERC] promotes a vital understanding of the diversity in Quebec and offers students an opportunity to discuss their own beliefs and understand those of others."
Singling out Quebec as a province that is in particular need of religious literacy training, the authors state that,
[Quebec residents] need to be proactive rather than reactive in schools, campuses, and other public spaces as hate crimes in Quebec have increased. According to academics Barbara Perry of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Ryan Scrivens of Simon Fraser University, Quebec has the largest number of extreme right-wing groups in Canada. There has been a spike in anti-Muslim attacks in Montreal since the Ste-Foy attack, according to police, and the police department’s hate crimes unit is investigating after swastika drawings were found on campus at McGill University last month.
As we continually read disturbing news about hate crimes against Muslims and Jews throughout the United States (and now in Canada), this article certainly provides one productive way of moving forward.
Read the full article here.