ARCHIVED - First Muslim Chaplain for Canadian Forces

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News Release / December 10, 2003 / Project number: NR-03.137

CFB BORDEN, Ont. – Captain Suleyman Demiray, an Imam from the Ottawa area, is the first Muslim chaplain in the Canadian Forces (CF). He graduated today from the Canadian Forces Chaplain School and Centre (CFChSC), CFB Borden, after completing the Chaplain Basic Officer Training Course. He will be posted to Edmonton.

Other course graduates include the first Regular Force Salvation Army chaplain since the Second World War, Capt Patrick Lublink, and the first Evangelical Free Church of Canada chaplain in the CF, Capt Greg Costen. In total, 11 CF chaplains and five chaplains from other nations graduated from the course.

“The Interfaith Committee on Canadian Military Chaplaincy made a historic decision that was based on a vision of where they believe chaplain services need to go by endorsing a Muslim chaplain,” said the Canadian Forces Chaplain General, Brigadier-General Ron Bourque. “We want the Canadian public to know that the Canadian Forces Chaplain Branch will do everything possible to meet the spiritual needs of CF members and their families. I applaud the leadership of the Interfaith Committee and hope and pray that in the years ahead we will welcome religious leaders from all faith groups into our Branch.”

Each of the major Christian denominations that contributes chaplains to the CF has a civilian representative on the Interfaith Committee on Canadian Military Chaplaincy. Currently, Captain Demiray is the only non-Christian chaplain in the CF. However, t here is precedent for chaplains of other faiths to serve in the Forces; a rabbi served as a chaplain during the Second World War.

Chaplain Basic Officer Training is a challenging 13-week course that combines the Basic Military Officer Training course with CF Chaplaincy training. The CFChSC's mission is not that of a seminary; candidates must already be engaged in ministry within their faith community. It supports the operational capability of the CF by developing the professional competence of all those ministering to CF personnel and their families.

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For more information about the Chaplain Branch, see the backgrounder entitled “The Canadian Forces Chaplaincy”, dated Sept. 26, 2003 in the Newsroom at www.forces.gc.ca or the Chaplain General's website at www.forces.gc.ca/hr/chapgen .

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