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The Walrus Talks Spirituality

By Observer Staff

On April 4, 2016, The United Church Observer presented: The Walrus Talks Spirituality. It was hosted at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre for Faith, Justice and the Arts in Toronto and live-streamed across Canada. Seven leading thinkers examined faith, culture, community and the role of spirituality in our secular society (bios below).  

More than 500 people attended the event in Toronto, and audiences at more than 60 churches from coast-to-coast gathered to host simultaneous events for this nationwide conversation. Thank you for participating in this groundbreaking event!

What did you think of what you heard at The Walrus Talks Spirituality?  

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• Drop us a line at letters@ucobserver.org

Did you miss the event?  Or do you want to experience The Walrus Talks Spirituality all over again?  Watch our entire presentation of The Walrus Spirituality at the top of this page or the individual speakers down below. 

The Walrus Talks Spirituality Speakers:

Nicole Brooks, creator

“A Canada without religion means liberation/freedom for one’s spirit to soar. Religion by definition implies separation and thus boundaries.”

Occupation: Filmmaker, director, performer, singer, playwright, composer, curator, teacher and “art-ivist.” Lives in Toronto.

Accomplishments: Fifteen-year career producing innovative content for stage and screen with a focus on narratives illuminating the peoples of the African Diaspora; creator of the theatrical work Obeah Opera; nominated for Dora Award in 2012.

Natalie Bull, executive director, The National Trust for Canada

“A Canada without religion is going to create a tsunami of landmark ecclesiastical buildings in need of a new vocation, fast! The challenge is equal parts heritage conservation and social mission.”

Executive director of The National Trust for Canada. Lives in Ottawa.

Leads a national charity, part of a global network of organizations working to protect and celebrate places that matter; initiator of This Place Matters, a national crowdfunding platform for heritage and community organizations; fellow and former president of the Association for Preservation Technology International; member of Heritage Conservation Directorate’s project teams at Bar U Ranch, Parliament Hill and the Vimy Monument in France.

Lewis Cardinal, Cardinal Strategic Communications

“A Canada without spiritual connection . . . is a bird without a song, a relationship without commitment, a nation without love.”

Occupation: Owner of Cardinal Strategic Communications, a consulting company specializing in Indigenous Education, Governance and Communications. He lives in Edmonton.

Co-chair of the Aboriginal Commission for Human Rights and Justice in Alberta; trustee of the Council for a Parliament of World Religions; recipient of Diamond Jubilee Medal for Public Service, the IndSpire Award for Public Service, the Alberta Centennial Medal for his work in human rights and diversity, and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton.  

Timothy Caulfield, author

“A Canada without religion is not lost.”

Occupation: Canada Research Chair in health law and policy; professor at the Faculty of Law and School of Public Health, University of Alberta; research director at the Health Law Institute, University of Alberta. He lives in Edmonton

Author of over 300 academic articles; fellow of the Trudeau Foundation; principal investigator for several large interdisciplinary projects that explore ethical, legal and health policy issues; fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Author of two national bestsellers: The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash.

Joan Garson, president, Holy Blossom Temple

“A Canada without religion is a lonelier and more isolated place. A congregation and its individual members are strengthened by sharing joys and sorrows.”

Occupation: In-house counsel at Baskin Wealth Management. Lives in Toronto.

Accomplishments: President of Holy Blossom Temple, a Reform congregation and Toronto’s oldest synagogue; president of the New Israel Fund of Canada; the immediate past chair of ARZENU, the International Organization of Reform Zionists; served as a member of the Executives of the Jewish Agency and of the World Zionist Organization.

Michael Ingham, bishop and theologian

“A Canada without religion would be a void into which secular demons will rush.”

Occupation: Retired bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster, B.C., Anglican Church of Canada. He lives in Vancouver.

Accomplishments: Eighth bishop of New Westminster, 1994-2013; dean of New Westminster and rector of Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver; principal secretary to the primate of Canada (1989-1992); author of Rites for a New Age, Mansions of the Spirit and More Than I Can Say; named “third most important newsmaker to watch in the country” by Maclean’s magazine in 2003 and ranked among the 25 “most influential Anglicans in the world” by Britain’s Daily Telegraph in 2008 for being one of the first Anglican leaders in the world to bless same-sex relationships.

Gretta Vosper, minister, United Church of Canada

“A Canada without religion is a testament to the remarkable strength a nation can forge of diversity when its people are inspired to engage in and take responsibility for the work of creating a better world, for themselves, for others, and for future generations.”

Occupation: Minister at West Hill United in Toronto, where she lives.

Accomplishments: Author of With or Without God: Why the way we live is more important than what we believe and Amen: What Prayer Can Mean in a World Beyond Belief; founder of the Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity; weekly panellist on AM 640 radio’s Culture Wars; blogger at grettavosper.ca.


The Observer is pleased to have presented this event in collaboration with The Walrus Foundation.

Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!


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