Rethinking Canadian Discourses of “Reasonable Accommodation”

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access

Rethinking Canadian Discourses of “Reasonable Accommodation”


  • Amélie Barras Department of Social Science, York University, Canada
  • Jennifer A. Selby Department of Religious Studies, Memorial University, Canada
  • Lori G. Beaman Department of Classics and Religious Studies, University of Ottawa, Canada


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Abstract:  This article maps the repercussions of the use of reasonable accommodation, a recent framework referenced inside and outside Canadian courtrooms to respond to religiously framed differences. Drawing on three cases from Ontario and Quebec, we trace how the notion of reasonable accommodation—now invoked by the media and in public discourse—has moved beyond its initial legal moorings. After outlining the cases, we critique the framework with attention to its tendency to create theological arbitrators who assess reasonableness, and for how it rigidifies ‘our values’ in hierarchical ways. We propose an alternative model that focuses on navigation and negotiation and that emphasizes belonging, inclusion and lived religion.

Keywords:  Canada; lived religion; media; navigation; negotiation; reasonable accommodation

Published:   22 June 2018


DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v6i2.1443


© Amélie Barras, Jennifer A. Selby, Lori G. Beaman. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.