There’s no doubt that education prepares the leaders of tomorrow. But as secularization pushes faith and culture further apart, Canadians seem to forget the positive impact that faith-based education has had on public life. Are Christian education institutions making meaningful contributions to Canadian society today? And how can these institutions remain vibrant contributors for future generations of Canadians?
“The thriving of Christian education in so many different forms in our country is due to the religious freedom we enjoy here in Canada.”
Dr. Andrew Bennett, Canada’s first and only ambassador for religious freedom, expounded on these questions on May 6 during “Christian Education for the Common Good”. The evening event — an initiative of Faith in Canada 150 and sponsored by Redeemer University — was held at the Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa. Bennett’s address explored the need for faith-based educational institutions to shape Christian public voices.
“It is fitting that we should be reflecting on the importance of Christian educational institutions at all levels — primary, secondary and post-secondary — and their role in framing and forming Christian leaders in the 150th year of confederation in our country,” said Bennett to the crowd.
“Indeed, Christian education in Canada long predates the current dominion of Canada,” he continued, diving deeply into the profound influence and history of Christian educational institutions. Whether the Seminaire de Quebec, a Catholic seminary formed in 1663; Halifax’s the University of King’s College, an Anglican school founded in 1789; or Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, established by Baptists in 1838, examples abound. “All three of these institutions continue to thrive today, demonstrating the continued presence of Christian education through their divinity schools and continuing connection to their Christian traditions.”
“The thriving of Christian education in so many different forms in our country is due to the religious freedom we enjoy here in Canada,” said Bennett. “A freedom that has been championed, and must continue to be upheld and defended in these days, where it is quickly dismissed as a poor cousin to freedom of expression — or it’s forgotten altogether.”
In addition to Bennett’s address, a panel of two Christian education alumni — Dr. Robert Joustra and Erika DeShiffart — considered why Christian schools exist and why they continue to thrive in Canada. Joustra and DeShiffart are alumni of both Ottawa’s Redeemer Christian High School as well as Redeemer University.
A second evening is planned for Friday, June 2 in Hamilton, Ont. at the Royal Botanical Gardens’ Rock Garden. Partners for both events include The Christian School Foundation, Redeemer Christian High School, King’s Christian Collegiate and Hamilton District Christian High School.