All Canadians share fundamental liberties, similarly to those provided to American citizens through the United States Constitution. Canadian liberties are provided through the Canada Constitution Act of 1982 and referred to as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Amongst other freedoms, Canadians are granted the “freedom of conscience and religion; b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and d) freedom of association”.
U.S. and Canada based businesses might salivate over the fact that Paganism is legal in Canada. This is because Canada offers a market in excess of 35 million people with an online connectivity rate exceeding 88%. From the perspectives of population and internet usage, Canada rivals California. Although the Canadian market is spread throughout a very large geographical region, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) claims that 90% of the Canadian population lives within 100 miles of the international border between the USA and Canada. For online businesses, this means that most of the Canadian population can easily receive goods that are shipped by mail, courier or common carrier. The CBC article is available here:
To me, the legal but somewhat cloaked nature of Paganism in Canada results in a market identification problem for all businesses. How do you connect with a largely hidden market? Further, how can you connect with a market that doesn’t necessarily want to be found? The notion of wanting to remain hidden makes reference to Pagans who are not necessarily open and public with respect to their religious beliefs. Wiccans often refer to socially shielding their beliefs as ‘being in the broom closet’.
I believe that the decision to ‘out one’s self’ regarding religious beliefs is solely personal. Those that want to stimulate awareness for Paganism have a number of avenues which may include and are not limited to:
- Supporting groups like The PBN (http://pbnnewsnetwork.com/)
- Joining organizations like Pagan Federation International (http://ca.paganfederation.org/)
- Encouraging your local storefront businesses to share Pagan event information
- Inviting MPs and MPPs to Pagan events (http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/members/members_current.do?locale=en&ord=riding&dir=asc&list_type=all_mpps), (http://www.parl.gc.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members)
- Communicating positively and in a responsible manner when using social networks
Identifying the Pagan marketplace in Canada is in my opinion, most efficiently approached electronically via the internet, and through the use of Pagan religious terms. I’d suggest using a number of different search terms to enhance your search results. Many people will search for one word or phrase such as ‘Pagan Canada’ and move forward with results from the single search. However, adding additional words or phrases such as ‘Canada Pagan Festival’ or ‘Pagan Shopping Canada’ will likely broaden and deepen your results.
In addition to providing a space for market research, the internet provides a space for community interaction. PBN is a great example of Pagan community and a space where like-minded individuals can share information.
Pagan stores represent a resource that can easily be overlooked. The owners of Pagan Craft businesses might initially contact retail stores to carry some of their merchandise. Regardless of how the first contact works out, I would recommend that all parties work to deepen these relationships. During a recent conversation with the owner of a storefront business located in Mississauga, Ontario, the owner suggested that I visit a competing store, commenting that “it’s all about supporting the cause” of promoting Paganism.
There is a great deal that the Pagan community can do to support the growth of Paganism and Pagan focussed businesses in Canada. Our future can be as bright as we want to make it through individual effort and collaboration.
image credit: Canada-Flag-545 [Digital image]. (n.d.). Retrieved August 16, 2016, from http://www.freelargeimages.com/canada-flag-545/