We were happy to learn on December 30th that our Chair and board member for Indigenous Spirituality, John Borrows, has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada, “for his scholarly work on Indigenous rights and legal traditions, which have had a significant impact across Canada and abroad”. The announcement was made December 30th, 2020
The Order of Canada is one of our country’s highest awards, established in 1967 and bestowed annually by the governor general. The motto of the Order, “They desire a better country”, is a sentiment shared by all of us.
John joined the board of the Victoria Multifaith Society in June 2019 as our board member for Indigenous Spirituality. He is a law professor at the University of Victoria (profile here), where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law.
He has long had an interest in multifaith matters and an appreciation of intersectionality in contributing to open-mindedness and reinforcing common values. He is Anishinaabe and a member of the Chippewas of the Nawash First Nation. He is also a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
His work on the resurgence of Anishinaabe law has led him to consider its relationship to the common law. In that context he sees the need for respecting differences and finding common ground. His religious interests are also grounded in what he regards as the need for reconciliation with God, a living earth, and with one another. These commitments sparked John's interest in joining with people from other faiths to address racism, environmental degradation, homelessness, and the work towards global unity in our own region.
The work of the Victoria Multifaith Society in addressing those issues, among others, is ongoing. Its focus is values-based, seeking to draw on spirituality in all of its essentially unified but rich and diverse expressions. It’s mission “to learn from one another, to celebrate our unity in diversity, to work together for the well-being of the community and the world” is very much in line with the desire for a better country enshrined in the Order of Canada motto.
Our member for Indigenous Spirituality found kindred spirits in those of us around the VMS table (or on the screen this past year): Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Bahá’í, Jewish, Christian, Muslim and New Thought. All have a firm belief in reaching into the spiritual heritage and collective wisdom of our traditions in order to draw out the ideals and principles needed to guide us into a healthy future.
We have learned to prize not just open-mindedness and curiosity, but also genuine appreciation and respect between board members. At one point, when we were setting ground rules for dialogue at an interfaith harmony event, John said “It all comes down to relationships, the importance of relationship.” It was a telling comment, encapsulating not just the style of VMS, but the style of the man. And it was a large part of the reason that we are overjoyed to see this honour going to someone who exemplifies the generosity of spirit so needed in this world.
Check out our video on - Healing the Planet video by VMS
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE