Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations holds reception; announces first project to be fundraiser for new national Holocaust Memorial in Ottawa
On November 21, 2013, I was invited to attend the inaugural reception of a new group called the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations (CPCMO). Since the special guests included the Honourable Jason Kenney, Minister of Employment & Social Development & the Minister of Multiculturalism, and the Honourable Tim Uppal, Minister of State for Multiculturalism, I decided to attend to see if there was another voice of the Canadian Muslim community that might not have been heard in the media and elsewhere in Canada over the last decade, as well as what current government thinking might be on the state of inter-faith relations in Canada. I was in for a number of surprises during the evening.
My first surprise was that on my arrival, I was directed to a corner of the buffet where special kosher treats were provided. There I met Frank Dimant of B’nai Brith Canada and Jack Silverstone, a former executive of Canadian Jewish Congress and a former member of the Ottawa Jewish Federation’s Communications and Community Relations Committee. We all reflected on the graciousness of the group’s hospitality, the diversity of those in attendance and the need for more opportunities for face-to-face contact between different faith groups.
Shortly after, Minister Kenney arrived and, seeing Frank and Jack, made a bee-line to the kosher corner and said, “Is this a meeting of the Kiddush Club?” I knew this was going to be a special evening!
The mission of the Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations is to bring together Progressive Muslim groups from across Canada who “uphold Canadian values emphasizing separation of religion and politics, gender equality, one law for all and education against radicalization.” Executive members from groups from Toronto, Mississauga, Hamilton, Burlington, and as far away as Vancouver were in attendance, as well as a number of Toronto-area members of Parliament.
Speaking without notes, Minister Kenney praised the group for coming together and for inviting so many other faiths to their first get-together. He emphasized the need to welcome more moderate views to our national discourse.
The CPCMO announced that as their first project, they would be conducting a fundraiser on behalf of the new national Holocaust Memorial in Ottawa.
As Minister Kenney noted, “Only in Canada would you have a group of Muslims coming together to raise money for the six million Jews who died in the Shoah.”
Another welcome surprise and a harbinger of good things to come.
Ian Sadinsky is a member of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa’s Communications and Community Relations Committee.