In the summer of 2014, the Red River College (RRC) in Winnipeg, Manitoba abruptly cancelled the volunteer chaplaincy program which had been serving RRC students and faculty since 1995. Further, while RRC permitted and promoted Aboriginal spiritual events on campus, RRC refused to permit other religious groups to hold meetings and events on campus.
These developments directly affected a group of RRC staff and faculty who, for the previous seven years, had met on campus each month for a time of fellowship and spiritual support. When the staff fellowship group requested permission to continue meeting under the guidance of their volunteer chaplain (who had been part of the chaplaincy program), RRC refused, and cancelled the group’s bookings for using a room. Banned from campus, RRC instructed this group to use an off-site “spiritual referral counselling service.”
The staff fellowship group reached out to JCCF for help. The JCCF sent a five-page letter to RRC’s Board of Governors, warning of RRC’s responsibility to respect students’ and faculties’ fundamental freedoms of religion, expression and association as protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The JCCF also warned RRC that it was violating Manitoba’s human rights legislation, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion.
In response to this letter, RRC has now given the staff fellowship group permission to once again meet on campus each month, under the guidance of their volunteer chaplain.