The Religious Freedom Fund

The funding envelope has been fully committed for the current fiscal year. We are not able to consider new applications at this time.

The Religious Freedom Fund supports projects outside Canada to help religious communities that are facing intolerance or persecution in their country.

More specifically, the Fund can be utilized to support projects that will accomplish the following objectives:

  • Raise awareness about issues related to freedom of religion or belief including through interreligious dialogue and education, tolerance and pluralism;
  • Conduct research on freedom of religion or belief that provides governments and decision-makers around the world with relevant information and analysis;
  • Support dialogue among different religious groups leading to clearly identified outcomes in countries where religious issues are principal factors of tension between communities;
  • Provide legal and legislative or related forms of support on issues of freedom of religion or belief in order to build local capacity and help protect communities that are targeted because of their faith.

Please note: The Fund only funds projects that take place abroad. Canada-based activities are not eligible.

Supported activities

Awareness activities that provide education on freedom of religion or belief

The Fund supports organizations that work directly or indirectly on freedom of religion or belief and/or on promoting peaceful pluralism and tolerance through dialogue among different religious groups.

Examples of projects and activities supported by the Religious Freedom Fund:

  • Development and distribution of children’s books that promote pluralism among school-aged children in Bangladesh. Educational stakeholders, civil society organizations and government were engaged in order to strengthen capacity to develop and utilize the books as a platform for building their understanding of pluralism concepts ($290,000 – Aga Khan Foundation Canada)
  • Holocaust awareness-raising events, capacity-building seminars on Holocaust remembrance and integration of genocide prevention into educational curricula. Funds have also contributed to conservation of camp buildings, grounds, archival holdings of the former World War II concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau for millions of visitors and future generations. ($400,000 – Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation and $100,000 – UNESCO)
  • Engagement with youth, religious leaders, relevant authorities and community members in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria to increase inter-religious dialogue for the promotion of religious freedom and tolerance, improve social cohesion, and increase access to tools and resources that promote religious co-operation at the institutional level. ($500,000 – Mennonite Central Committee)
  • Development of educational resources and materials, based on participative research and consultations with civil society groups, and building the capacity of community intermediaries to counter religious intolerance in their respective districts in Sri Lanka. ($597,000 – Equitas International Centre for Human Rights Education)

Research on freedom of religion to support foreign governments’ engagement in the area of respect for religious diversity and pluralism

The Fund supports academics or research institutions that study freedom of religion or belief and develop tools to help foreign governments understand freedom of religion or belief and discrimination against religious communities.

Examples of projects and activities supported by the Religious Freedom Fund:

  • Documentation of injustices faced by non-Muslim Pakistanis and examination of the status of religious freedom in Pakistan. The project includes the development of policy recommendations to provide religious minorities with relief from persecution, as well as sensitize Pakistani parliamentarians to the situation of minorities. ($200,000)
  • Collection and sharing of international best practices to increase local civil society and political parties’ understanding of the role of tolerance in fostering peaceful multi-faith societies in Burma. The project also supports civil society organizations’ ability to conduct initiatives aimed at raising citizens’ awareness of the need for tolerance. ($330,000 – The International Republican Institute)

Conferences and seminars on promoting interreligious dialogue

The Fund supports the development of networks and the creation of meeting opportunities at conferences or seminars to bring together stakeholders directly involved in studying freedom of religion or belief.

Examples of projects and activities supported by the Religious Freedom Fund:

  • Facilitation of leadership courses and exchange programs that bring together Ukrainian youth from various ethnic and religious backgrounds to promote tolerance and deepen inter-cultural awareness. ($250,000 – Catholic Near East Welfare Association)
  • Promotion of intercommunity dialogue and conflict mediation in Nigeria’s Plateau State, and provision of support to community and religious leaders as well as federal government officials to better manage inter-communal and interfaith dialogue in order to diffuse tensions and help prevent inter-religious conflict. ($730,000 – Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue)
  • Delivery of journalist sensitivity training to combat the use of hate speech and other expressions of religious intolerance in the media, as well as holding seminars and capacity building workshops for civil society groups and activists on hate speech monitoring and community mobilization. ($255,000 – Equality Myanmar)

Legal support or specialized services to support freedom of religion or belief and respect for pluralism on behalf of persecuted groups or individuals

The Fund supports activities associated with providing training on freedom of religion or belief and assistance to individuals or communities through legal, legislative and regulatory frameworks.

Examples of projects and activities supported by the Religious Freedom Fund:

  • Sensitization of Pakistani media towards religious minorities, as well as helping improve the ability of religious minorities to advocate before the government for the protection of their constitutional rights. ($1 million – The Asia Foundation)
  • Promotion of international standards on the recognition of religious or belief communities throughout civil society and government, as well as training law enforcement and civil society on how to better monitor and react to hate crimes involving religion. ($1.4 million – Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights)
  • Capacity-building of Iraqi civil society organizations to monitor and report human rights abuses and religious persecution, as well as improve their ability to advocate for religious minorities within international human rights fora. ($260,000 – Minority Rights Group International)
  • Supporting the sustainable monitoring and reporting on freedom of religion or belief in Indonesia, increasing understanding by religious minorities of their constitutional rights and building their capacity to advocate for tolerance and pluralism. ($260,000 – Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace)

Eligible recipients

Grants and contributions are available for projects administered by the following types of organizations:

  • Non-governmental, community, religious, academic and not-for-profit organizations based outside Canada;
  • International, intergovernmental, multilateral and regional organizations; and
  • Canadian non-governmental, community, religious, academic and not-for-profit organizations operating abroad.

How to apply for support from the Religious Freedom Fund

The funding envelope has been fully committed for the current fiscal year. We are not able to consider new applications at this time.

If you are contemplating submitting a proposal to obtain funding from the Religious Freedom Fund, you can:

  • Consult current Calls for Proposals for projects.

    Calls for Proposals are posted on the Religious Freedom Fund webpage and always include a specific Application Form posted for submissions. Please use the appropriate Application Form when responding to a call, following the included guidelines.

  • Submit an Unsolicited Proposal.

    To be considered, proposals must meet eligibility and other funding criteria as defined in the Application Form.

In all circumstances, the Office of Religious Freedom (ORF) will review your application using its published Assessment Criteria. Make sure your application responds fully to all of the criteria and includes all of the elements.