Redeemer was privileged to have Dr. Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, on campus earlier this month. Dr. Bennett was the guest speaker at the weekly chapel service, and he met with international studies students at a lunch with Dr. Robert Joustra, Assistant Professor of International Studies. Malorie Van Weelden is a fourth year Honours International Development student, a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the department, and part of the group of students that had lunch with the ambassador. “One of the highlights for me was hearing about the importance of being open about your faith and honest about your beliefs in the public sphere,” she said. “Ambassador Bennett asked each of us about our interests and future goals, and he invited us all to visit his office if we are ever in Ottawa!” Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom was established on February 19, 2013. It was created with the principle that advancing religious freedom is a key component of Canadian foreign policy. The Office, Bennett explained, works to defend religious communities, monitor religious freedom and speak out against significant violations of religious freedom. “Seventy-four per cent, nearly three-quarters, of the world’s population lives in states with high or very high restrictions on religious freedom and/or high or very high social hostilities by one religious group against another,” Bennett stated. Ambassador Bennett encouraged students to stand confidently in their faith, and to engage in the society-wide conversation about religious freedom and its importance to people of all faiths. He asked each student to think about the way they could contribute to this conversation, whether it be as public servants, as teachers, as pastors and through each of their vocations. “As Canadians, as an ambassador for religious freedom, but also as Christians, we must speak out for all those in the world that are persecuted for their faith,” Bennett said as he concluded the chapel service.