Canadian values are the same values that underpin all religions, Islamic Studies professor Ingrid Mattson said in a speech at the Mayor's Interfaith Breakfast on Friday.
Mattson, who is chair of Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Huron University College in London, Ontario, said she was invited to speak about the role religious communities play in building unity. About 80 people attended the annual event, held at Teresa Sargent Hall.
Mattson said all religions share a core set of values, and these are the same values that define Canada.
"Many of Canada's most cherished programs and values and how we think of ourselves as Canadians – kindness, generosity, welcoming the stranger, sharing – these are core fundamental principles of every religious tradition."
Tommy Douglas, credited with being the architect of universal health care in Canada, was a Baptist minister, Mattson noted.
"(He) took his Christian values, his commitment to love of the stranger, care for the neighbour, care for those who are suffering, and made it into a government program that Canadians from coast to coast are so proud of."
The same values are at the bottom of Canada's welcoming stance towards Syrian refugees, she said, adding that Canada's openness has garnered praise from politicians in Europe and elsewhere.
However, Mattson also warned of "the rise in uncivil discourse" coming from the US, as well as growing identity movements in Western countries.
The event was created by Mayor Bill Given four years ago. Given previously said that the event "gives an opportunity to recognize that faith communities and people of faith are an important part of our community - just as important as our business community or service clubs - they really help make Grande Prairie a great place to live."