Stereotypes about religion can be found in a multitude of media in Canada and Québec, including television, movies and video games. While these stereotypes usually have a negative connotation, many religious minorities are not represented at all.

The Canadian and Quebecois media landscape are very restricted, and many religions face a lack or complete absence of representation in the media. There is virtually no reporting on Buddhists and Hindus even though these communities each have approximately the same number of followers as the Jewish community in Canada. During decade the scant coverage of the Sikh community focuses almost exclusively on issues of accommodation, wearing the kirpan or the violence (the Air India flight bombing, June 23 1985, investigation).

Pressenza Montreal met with the Bahà’i Faith members to talk about new religions and their project in various neighborhood in Montreal.

The Bahà’i Faith in Montreal

The Baháʼí Faith is a relatively new religion teaching the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people. Established by Baha’u’llah in the 19th century, it initially developed in Iran and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution. The religion is estimated to have 5–8 million adherents, known as Baháʼís, spread throughout most of the world’s countries.

The Baha’i are committed to the prosperity of all, recognizing that the welfare of individuals rests in the welfare of society at large. They are conscious of how the forces of materialism are at work around them, and are aware of the many injustices that persist in the world today. According to the Baha’i a true religion has the power to transform the hearts of human beings and transform the world. The Baha’i members work in the different cities in Canada.

We met with IIya Zrudlo and Maëlle Turbine during a Global conference in Montreal on June 19. Since January more than a thousand of Global conferences have been organized around the world. Ilydra and Maëlle are active members in the Bahà’i community. For the last few years they organized neighborhood projects in the city and the suburbs. Ilya works with a group of youth in the Côte des Neiges neighborhood, they meet every week and plan community action such as cleaning the street and helping each other in the community. They organize talks and prayer sessions. According to lIydra the grassroots gatherings and the Global conference help the communities to find purpose.

“We share a common direction, and we are creating a sense of community,“ said IIya.

Maëlle is living in the suburbs of Montreal and started projects with families and children. According to Maëlle the religious context in Montreal and in Québec is largely explained by the ambivalence of the population towards religion, particularly among the majority Francophone. On the one hand, the Francophone has deserted Catholicism to free itself from the grip of religion; but on the other hand, most people have no idea that other religious and spiritual groups exist.

It is unfortunate that the majority of Quebecers are not informed of the work of members of the Bahà’i community. But the new generation is more curious and seeks the sacred in new forms of spirituality and new religious groups such as the Bahà’i.

For more information on the Bahà’i Faith visit the website : https://news.bahai.org/story/1593/