I encountered the Awakening Project while completing the Interfaith Leadership Program at the Multifaith Centre at University of Toronto. As a teacher of over ten years and a childcare worker for over twenty, I have experience in education as well as in social justice work and advocacy. Having a diverse background with faith and spirituality has been a benefit for me in leading discussions with many perspectives when discussing interfaith issues and social justice. I have led discussions on Zoom which deal with issues of mining extraction and indigenous women’s resistance in Latin America, climate chaos and indigenous spiritual philosophy and knowledge in Canada, and Palestine as a site of global concern. As these conversations build and draw on the diverse range of previous and current research that I have undertaken in my program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, it has been of great benefit to share this knowledge with others. Many have stated their lack of knowledge or awareness of such topics and have expressed their gratitude to understand and build on their current knowledge base. This sharing, I believe, works as a promotion of greater understanding and as a sharing platform for individuals, much like the ecosystems of nature, to engage and disperse beneficial information and awareness.
We are all connected in the web of life on the planet earth and it benefits us all to work towards greater good by understanding what is happening on a greater scale in our world. As students spend a great deal of time incorporating information and learning about the world, the on-line discussion meetings of the Awakening Project serve not only as an information hub, but as a space to safely discover new issues, people and places. We live in a world with a wonderful diversity and this is an exercise in tolerance, patience and expansion. In the Montessori method of my teacher training, the cosmic web of life is a primary focus for peace education and living in wonder with our universe. Our students and individuals interested in the Awakening Project are those who are open to building bridges between communities and faith groups – in a dialogue promoting peace, awareness and love for our planet and each other. And this, in essence, is a true act of advocacy and tolerance.
— by Michelle Ally, educator