Religious Social Action Coalition
P.O. Box 21094
St. John's, NL
Origins of the group: The Religious Social Action Coalition of Newfoundland and Labrador is an impartial group from a broad selection of religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and others) united in their religious commitment to call on society to abolish poverty at home and abroad.
As a result of the tragic events of 9/11 the three major Western religions came together once a year for a discussion on a social topic to promote calmness and understanding among the various religious groups. In 2006, the topic on the table for discussion happened to be poverty. The decision was then made to bring other faiths to the discussion group. Arnold Bennett spearheaded the group as he was passionate about the poverty issue and saw room for improvement. Nineteen people from different faiths met at the local mosque early in 2007.
Highlights of group's history: The group has had an eventful and active history that includes 2 CBC television programs, various media interviews and press conferences, the development of the website (listed above), which provides the group with a national profile. Before the last provincial election, the Coalition collected more than 7000 signatures on a petition to get the political leaders in the province to think outside the box. The Coalition works to help the poor by putting forth an effort to create employment opportunities, and has organized educational sessions to educate the community on poverty and how government policies help make the rich become richer and the poor become poorer.
Present Goals of your group: The group is trying to push the government to fulfill its promises to supply aid to impoverished countries. Another goal is to help aboriginal communities. However, the greatest current goal of the Religious Social Action Coalition would be the goal of getting a commissioner instated that would look at government policies from a poverty prism and see if policies really help the poor. Currently Quebec has such a commissioner and if the province of Newfoundland and Labrador instates one then this would be to the credit of the Religious Social Action Coalition.
The group has written letters to all Members of Parliament and Senators in order to make them aware of the actions of the group in hopes that they would participate.
The group also aims to open up dialogue and raise questions that would get people thinking about the larger picture. Changes happen when people communicate about issues affecting the people in the province and in the world.
Life in St. John's/in NL: St. John's currently has several groups that address the issues related to multiculturalism. For example, NFL Health and Pluralistic Society, Association for New Canadians, Multicultural Women's Association, The Coalition for Richer Diversity, and The Senior Citizens Center for NL (which aims to bridge the culture gaps for senior citizens by bringing various cultures together). This is a nice place for children to grow up and diversity is becoming much more commonplace in Newfoundland and Labrador than it was even 20 to 30 years ago.
Leaders and contacts: The Religious Social Action Coalition is comprised of 8 directors, 7 males and 1 female. There are 5 Christian representatives along with representatives from other faiths such as Hinduism, Judaism, and Islam. Contact information for any of the directors can be found on the website listed above.