GSS Halton Peel holds Annual Awards Night and Networking Event

A celebration of greening achievements by faith-based organizations in Halton-Peel region

By Sima Carri, Halton Environmental Network

 The Halton-Peel Region chapter of Greening Sacred Spaces (GSS) (link) celebrated its achievements at the annual IMG_20170504_205115GSS Awards Night and Networking Event on Thursday, May 4, 2017 in Oakville. Two organizations received awards for their greening initiatives in 2016. The venue was the Joshua Creek Heritage Art Centre (link) – a scenic location with tranquil flower gardens, and a special outdoor labyrinth.

GSS is the most popular program run by Faith and the Common Good (link), a national, interfaith network committed to protecting the ecosystem combined with a passion for community service. Its resources include workshops, case studies, posters, guides, environmental services, certification and award ceremonies. Every year, they work with about 600 faith communities from denominations. It also hosts almost 1,000 green events and activities that reach over 10,000 Canadians. GSS Halton-Peel is a program of the Halton Environmental Network (HEN) (link) and work specifically throughout Halton & Peel to provide these services.

The well-attended event recognized the achievement of faith communities and their accomplishments over the past year, and provided an opportunity for faith representatives to network with each other. The attendees included some from communities interested in learning about GSS programs, and how to become eligible for the awards next year. Environmentally aware faith organizations in the Halton-Peel region that have green initiatives to celebrate and would like to be considered for these awards should contact GSS Halton-Peel Program Coordinator, Chantelle Misheal, at haltonpeel@faithcommongood.org.

Lucy Cummings, Executive Director of Faith and the Common Good, gave a warm welcome to the gathering highlighting that this event was the best part of the organization’s work because it recognized the hard work of the faith communities.

IMG_20170504_192826_067Guest speaker Tristan Mohamed, who is also a board member of Halton Environmental Network, gave a thought-provoking presentation on Ecospirituality and Mindfulness. Those interested in this form of meditation and self-improvement may contact Chantelle Misheal (see email above) for more information.

The six contenders for this year’s awards were Erin Mills Church Campus and Solel Congregation (both from Mississauga), and the Church of the Incarnation, St. Luke’s Anglican Church, St. Simon’s Anglican Church, and The Meeting House (all from Oakville). Ramsha Ahmed, former Program Coordinator of GSS at HEN, thanked the Ontario Trillium Foundation for its Seed Grant that had enabled the GSS to work at its mission of assisting faith communities with environmental initiatives through a variety of greening programs in 2016-17.

The two awards went to Solel Congregation, Mississauga, and St Simon’s Anglican Church, Oakville.  Details about the green initiatives undertaken by these two faith-based organisations will be available on the GSS website (link).

A new funding for GSS from the Ontario 150 Partnership Program will enable two schools in the Halton-Peel region to create a habitat with emphasis on indigenous gardens, incorporating native species of herbs and plants (link). Get your faith community involved in sustainable initiatives today and find out more about the awards application process by signing up for their monthly newsletter (link).

Attendees enjoyed a light and delicious vegetarian meal, served buffet-style. The highly environmentally conscious fare was vegan, fair trade certified, palm oil neutral, and locally produced. Local companies B. Good (“We Make Real Food”) (link), Goodness Me! Natural Food Markets (“Grow Green, Garden Clean”) (link), Pat’s Party Rentals (link) and Ten Thousand Villages (a fair trade retailer) (link) supplied the food, tea, coffee, and dinnerware.

To learn more about our next awards night, please contact Chantelle at haltonpeel@faithcommongood.org and receive the support you need to start a Green Team in your faith community!