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Wiccan Priestess Delivers First Non-Christian Blessing before Oshawa City Council
Historic Development for Multifaith Interests in Durham RegionFor Immediate Release Wednesday, September 6, 2000
Oshawa -- On Tuesday, September 5, Wiccan Priestess Kelly Laura Gillette became the first representative of a non-Christian faith group to deliver a benediction before a municipal meeting in the City of Oshawa, and perhaps the first Wiccan representative to do so in either province or nation. The event is being celebrated as an achievement for multifaith pluralist interests in the Durham region, following intense local debate on whether Canada is a "Christian country", and recent lobbying efforts by various fundamentalist Christian groups in Oshawa seeking to restrict non-Christian representation and expression.
Last year, the Ontario Court of Appeals ruled that recitation of the Lord's Prayer before municipal meetings must desist, citing that failure to do so discriminated against non-Christian faith groups in Ontario. In a subsequent motion proposed by Oshawa City Councilor Joe Kolodzie, the City of Oshawa ruled to continue regular recitation of the prayer, but with additional faith group benedictions to be delivered on a rotating basis. Oshawa Mayor Nancy Diamond announced the commencement of the new blessings program during the September 5 meeting, and welcomed Ms. Gillette to address City Council following a reading of the Lord's Prayer and prior to a hearing of the national anthem. Consistent with Wiccan practice, the benediction asked for blessings from the spirits of nature to support the deliberations of Council.
"Lady and Lord, we ask for Your blessings upon us. We ask for blessings from Air, that we may have clarity in communication with one another. We ask for blessings from Fire, that our actions and deeds be honorable and trustworthy. We ask for blessings from Water, that we may have empathy and compassion for each other. We ask for blessings from Earth, that all manifestations of our work here be a fitting offering for Goddess, for God, and for the community that we serve."
Ms. Gillette is a Wiccan representative on the Peterborough Regional Multifaith Committee, a subcommittee of the Ontario Multifaith Council on Spiritual and Religious Care. She also recently served as a Pagan community representative on the Durham District School Board's Inspirational Readings Committee.
The Wiccan Church of Canada (WCC) was established in 1979 by elders Tamarra and Richard James. Wicca, or witchcraft, also referred to as the "Old Religion", is a non-proselytizing nature religion whose adherents identify with female, as well as male, aspects of the Divine; seek to live in harmony with natural forces; and apply ancient European mythologies and traditions as a means toward spiritual growth in modern life. It is one among several contemporary Pagan earth religions. Among the WCC Articles of Faith is the belief that tolerance of the faiths of others is morally mandatory.