Augustinian Centre on board for multifaith response to poverty

  • September 14, 2011

TORONTO - The Canadian Augustinian Centre for Social Justice is part of a multi-faith partnership that will sponsor an upcoming forum on housing and homelessness.

Taking place Sept. 20 at the Multifaith Centre at the University of Toronto, the centre is partnering with the North American Muslim Foundation and the MultiFaith Alliance to End Homelessness to activate and model peaceful and collaborative multi-faith approaches to social justice in Toronto, said Augustinian Centre director Brian Dwyer.

“We want to open up dialogue among diverse religious groups about shared experiences with homelessness and poverty,” said Dwyer.

“We believe that this partnership is unique in itself and could become a model of community development that everyone would derive a great deal of benefit.”

This is the first event the centre is hosting since its launch last January.

Guest speakers will include Senator Hugh Segal and Michael Shapcott, director of housing and innovation at the Wellesley Institute, a non-profit research company dedicated to advancing urban health.

Segal will be discussing “In from the Margins,” a 2009 report on homelessness and housing in Canada, that called for Canada to implement a national housing strategy.

The forum will also include a panel of religious leaders from the different faiths, including Fr. Emeka Obiezu, the Augustinian Order representative at the United Nations, and a panel of speakers from various organizations, such as Covenant House and Mainstay Housing.

“We don’t have the answers to housing and poverty but we know when people involved in this issue come together… something will emerge through dialogue and that’s our purpose — to have something emerge from the community,” said Dwyer.

Dwyer said partnering with the different faith groups has been a good learning experience.

“The Augustinian Centre promotes the idea that we bring people together around an issue and in the process of bringing those people together, we as a group learn about each other and co-operate with each other,” he said.

This partnership has also highlighted the similarities between the different faith groups, he said.

“What struck us is that we as Christian groups often don’t interact with people who are not Christian… It was very clear to us that we are all children of God and our goals are very similar so whatever the issue is for one person is an issue for any person,” he said.

There is no cost to attend the forum, but donations will be accepted.

For more information on the centre, e-mail or see

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