Inspired to Change! Canadian Heathens seek right to wed in faith tradition

LARISA HUNTER

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A few years ago our kindred made the decision to approach the government of Canada (specifically our Provincial Government) to see why Heathenry and Paganism was not seen as a ‘legal’ religion. This led to researching and mass letter writing on my part only to be sent some very nice but not very helpful responses. Mostly it was, well we don’t have the power to change that. At the time I had little support from anyone in the community to help, no one could see the value in changing the law.

They thought I was trying to create this MEGA church that would be for Pagans, Heathens and Druids and forcing everyone to ‘conform’ to some ‘set standard’ of belief. This was not the intention.

There are no ‘real’ laws in Canada that say we cannot create a legal church for Heathens, Pagans or Druids, but there are a number of requirements that do prevent us from not only marrying in our faith tradition, but also to get holidays that are ‘sacred’, care by a priest while we are ill, and burial rituals in our faith. There are other restrictions as well and it’s unclear really where these restrictions lie because there are no clear laws or statues that can specifically be appealed against.

It made it difficult to fight and I gave up. Mostly because the support was not there. I reflect on this now thinking why did I give up so quickly, but I don’t think I could have gotten as much support as I am getting now. I was not yet ‘established’ in the community and likely was seen as a passionate newbie who had great intentions…but maybe the trust was not there.

Fast forward to 2012. I found out a few heathens got married and had to have two ceremonies, just like many other Pagans, Heathens and Druids have done before. I was again inspired with passion to change this. Why should we have to have two ceremonies and why are there no official churches for ‘alternative religions’ established.

I decided to once again contact our local MPP. In Canada our MPP is the voice of the people in our Provincial Parliament. I was surprised when he responded and even more surprised when he offered to help. He forwarded the inquiry to the Minister responsible, in this case the Minister of Government Services. Of course the Minister told us they would do some ‘research’ however as quickly as the response went in, four weeks to the day the response came back. They were not going to change a thing.

Normally, I would likely have given up…but there was something about this that irked me. Perhaps it was because they did no research whatsoever nor did they look at the laws in our country which clearly allow for churches to be established IF they were established elsewhere. But for some reason even though these laws exist you still have to be a corporation, a registered charity and then apply for status to marry. But even after all this there is one person who will make this decision and no way to appeal. It seems very undemocratic and not true to what I believe Canada is.

So, I undertook the challenge as it were to change things. I formed a council of people to work together to make the change happen. We need people who are well versed in law, who can read through these documents and pick out where the conflicts are. We need people who can get signatures, who may have media or government contacts that can help move this in the right direction.

But mostly we need to use this opportunity to bring all of us together. I got told yesterday August, 14th that I would be given a meeting with our MPP. This is the first time that anyone of alternative faiths have been given this opportunity and I want to use it!!

We are asking people to get involved!! Contact me and let me know what you can do to help!! We need all of us to make a difference, it’s not just about marriage, it’s not just about Heathenry, it’s about all of us being included, being free to practice, being treated with respect and no longer in the shadows.

What I think this will do is something never done before. It will give alternative faiths a legitimate front. We will be ‘respected’ in communities because we will have the rights to be in the public. This could mean walking down the street and seeing Druid churches or finding a local Heathen Temple in your area. It could mean more freedoms for people! More rights and as many already joining the campaign have pointed out…it will separate church and state!!

To start helping, please consider signing this petition. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/269/742/637/to-change-the-marriage-act-of-ontario/.

For further help/support or details contact me at mist@kenaz.ca

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Let us Stand United for the Freedom of All!!

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