May 1 to 4, 2014 Edmonton Clinic Health Academy Lister Conference Centre University of Alberta North Campus
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Edmonton Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
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With support from
Faiths Coming Together Through Awareness, Compassion and Justice
The Edmonton Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (ECPWR) welcomes you to Faiths Coming Together through Awareness, Compassion and Justice. This conference honours Edmonton’s status as a Partner City of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (CPWR); celebrates the work of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre, now in its twentieth year; facilitates networking among interfaith organizations and colleagues across Canada; and advances the City of Edmonton and the ECPWR’s efforts to explore possibilities for hosting the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2017. I wish to thank all who planned, produced and are presenting at this Partner City Event. On behalf of the ECPWR, it is my pleasure and privilege to welcome you to Faiths Coming Together through Awareness, Compassion and Justice. May this time be of benefit and blessing to all.
The tradition of governance of the Edmonton pehonan was called in Cree wicihitowin, which literally means helping each other. However, the deeper meaning is relations or relationship. It is in that ancient spirit of this place that we welcome you. A spirit of sharing, learning, and building relationships that will benefit us all. Welcome to the gathering. And welcome to Edmonton.
Rob Hankinson, ECPWR Executive Director.
To the Participants in the “Faiths Coming Together” Conference:
On behalf of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre, welcome to Edmonton and our conference “Faiths Coming Together Through Awareness, Compassion & Justice“. Our city’s embrace of diversity is a model for all citizens. We know that to be Canadians we need not think or act alike in order to respect and honour those of a wide variety of faiths and those who practice them. We are dedicated to our shared vision, to give every faith the opportunity to show who we are and how we worship, thereby accomplishing the goals of our Centre, the promotion of peace, friendship, harmony and understanding. We realize and affirm that through religion we can celebrate both our commonalities and our differences, and through the very ideals and teachings that lie at the heart of each of the world’s great traditions, find a way to work together for the common good.
Warm greetings to each of you from the community of St Stephen’s College! It is a great pleasure to welcome you to Edmonton and to the main campus of The University of Alberta, our post-secondary friend and colleague since our mutual founding in 1908. Many of those who have been involved in planning this Conference–and who are offering keynotes or workshops– are members of the St Stephen’s College community; but the entire Faculty and Staff, Senate and Board of the College join them in offering you the hospitality of our College home during your time in Western Canada. We are glad to have assisted in your registration for this event; and we are very glad that you are here! The theme of this gathering, Faiths Coming Together through Awareness, Compassion and Justice is an apt reflection of the deep commitment of the College to be a community that embraces the whole of what it means to be human. At St Stephen’s, it has long been our passion to offer education that both informs and transforms; to create a sacred space for persons of many faith traditions to learn from each other and to arise from their studies better equipped to transform our world in just and compassionate ways together. May you enjoy a meeting in which deep inquiry is pursued within the context of the friendship of valued colleagues. Every good wish and blessing to you!
This great city is built upon the foundation of an ancient gathering placed called pehonan (the waiting place). It was known then and remembered now that this gathering place is where the divine essence of the creator, known in Cree as monto, permeated the very land in the centre of the city and river valley. It attracted peoples from all over northwest North America for thousands of years to gather for trading, ceremonies, and celebrations. The divine essence is still here; it still lives.
Prof Dr Earle Sharam, JChLJ, MA, DPhil Principal and Dean Vice-Chancellor
Nasim Kherani, President of the Board of Directors of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action
Faiths Coming Together Through Awareness, Compassion and Justice
Thursday, May 1 St. Stephen’s College 2 pm to 5 pm Registration
10:30 workshops and panels Room L1 190 When Dialogue Dissolves: The United Church’s 2012 Boycott, and Jewish Response – A Case Study Belle Jarniewski and James Christie Room L1 140 The Role of Faith in Social Action and Service Yoon Ok Shin and Christina Bellsmith
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy 5 pm • lobby of Room L1 – 490 Registration 7 pm • Room L1 – 490 Opening ceremonies and reception
Room L1 150 Improving Dialogue Between Atheists and the Religious Jonn Kmech with panelists and speakers Room L1 220 Protecting Creation: Caring for what God Loves Part I: Experiencing God in Creation Dr. Mishka Lysack
Friday, May 2
Room L1 230 Kanata
Edmonton Clinic Health Academy
8:00 am • Room L1 190 Coffee, Tea and Muffins 8:30 • Room L1 190
1:30 workshops and panels
Greetings and Announcements 9:00 • Room L1 190
Room L1 190 Leap in Faith—Coexistence of World Religions in a Secular State
Keynote Address • Christine Boyle
Manju Lodha and Lynda Trono with Ray Dirks, Isam Aboud and Tony Tavares
Faith in our Shared Future We live in a complex, globally connected time. And many of the challenges we face are indeed enormous in scope. How does our faith call us to respond? How does our faith fuel and sustain us as we strive to create a more just and sustainable world? And how does our faithful action echo the very best of our traditions to the young folks who will inherit this complex world? Christine Boyle is a community organizer, activist, and communicator. She was raised in the United Church, and completed an MA in Religious Leadership for Social Change at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. Currently, Christine leads strategic communications at the Columbia Institute and their Centre for Civic Governance, and organizes with GreenJobs BC. a provincial labour and environmental alliance. She also directs Spirited Social Change, an initiative aimed at engaging people across generations to explore the intersections between spirituality and our work for a better world. In her free time she rides her bicycle, and enjoys the company of courageous people.
Noon • Room L1 190 • Lunch
Room L1 140 The Lil Faider Interfaith Scholar-in-Residence Project: Promoting Interfaith Religious Literacy Rabbi Shaul Osadchey Room L1 150 Faiths Coming Together to End Homelessness Rick Chapman and Brian Kiely Room L1 220 Protecting Creation: Advocating for what God Loves Part 2: Spirituality and the Prophetic Practice of Creation Advocacy Dr Mishka Lysack Room L1 230 Importance of Music in Different Faith Traditions Zohra Husaini with Dr. Karim Gillani, Dr.Gita Das, Cantor Mannes
3:30 workshops and panels Room L1 190 Film The Imam and the Pastor: How Religious Enemies Reconciled to Become Peace-Makers Jack Freebury, Janyce Konkin, Ibrahim Cin Room L1 140 Voices of Indigenous Women Dr. Maggie Hodgson, O.C, Dr. Leona Makokis, Muriel Stanley-Venne, Doreen Wabasca Room L1 150 The Role of Faith Communities in Counteracting Abuse and Bullying John Dowds, Rabbi Kliel Rose, Nasim Kherani, Morag McLean and Travis Enright Room L1 220 Who are You? Digital Dialogue with “The Other” Dr. Brenda Anderson Room L1 230 From Fundamentalism To Religious Violence Dr. Stephen A. Kent Room L1 370 Beyond the “Evolution” vs. “Creation” Debate Dr. Denis O. Lamoureux 5:30 • Lister Conference Centre Dining Room • Dinner 6:00 • Lister Conference Centre Dining Room
Saturday May 3 Lister Conference Centre 8:00 am • Lobby Coffee, Tea and Muffins 8:30 • Maple Leaf Room Greetings and Announcements 9:00 am • Maple Leaf Room
Keynote Address • Amir Hussain Faith Neighbours Do we know the stories that are important to us and the stories that are important to our neighbours? What is the importance of interfaith dialogue and understanding as a way to deal with religious divisions and social conflicts? How can people learn from each other and work together to address problems in their communities? Amir Hussain is a scholar of religion who specializes in the study of Islam. He is the editor of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, which is the flagship journal for the study of religion. He is a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. 10:30 workshops and panels Maple Leaf Room Film: Gently Whispering the Circle Back Beth Wishart MacKenzie
Film: DUMP Edmonton’s unique recycling plant Room
Aurora Room Healing—a natural & expected outcome of religious faith, understanding and practice
Anthony Goertz and Dave Hubert
Kate Gibson Oswald and Beth Gibson Glacier Room Peace Moving Forward for Refugees and Immigrants Lawrence Muganga, Sharif Hiji, Joseph Luri, Olga Garcia Prairie Room Creating a Bigger Table for Justice: Collaboration with Civil Society on Social Issues Clint Mooney and others Foyer of Lister Conference Centre Art Expression Note Art Expression starts at 10:30 and continues throughout the day. Volunteers from Windsound Learning Society, World Arts Organization and St. Stephen’s College Art Therapy program.
Sunday May 4 Lister Conference Centre 1:30 workshops and panels
9:00 am • Maple Leaf Room
Maple Leaf Room The Sweetgrass Journey
Coffee, Tea and Muffins
Elsie Paul, Suzanna Isadore, Mary Paul
9:30 • Maple Leaf Room Greetings and Announcements
Aurora Room Stories of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Wilson MacLennan, Junaid Jahangir, Roxanne Tootoosis Glacier Room Healing the Spirit Shirley Serviss
10:00 Looking Back and Looking Forward to 2017 and Beyond—an interfaith opportunity and challenge. Discussion led by Rob Hankinson 11:30 to noon • Maple Leaf Room
Prairie Room Faith and Creativity
Mini concert with Anna Beaumont
Jonn Kmech with panelists and speakers Maple Leaf Room The Importance of Art in Religion Avau Fast 3:30 workshops and panels Maple Leaf Room Social Justice—Local and Global Relationships: Canadian Mining Companies outside Canada Eric Flanagan Aurora Room Deconstructing the arguments of conservative Muslim leaders on same-sex relationships in a legal contract Dr. Junaid Jahangir Glacier Room Writing As Prayer Shirley Serviss Prairie Room The John Humphrey Centre Peacebuilders: Creating Youth Interfaith Dialogue Jonn Kmech with panelists and speakers 5:30 • Maple Leaf Room * Dinner
Workshops and Panels Descriptions Friday May 2 10:30 to noon
Belle Jarniewski and James Christie At a meeting of the General Assembly of the United Church of Canada (UCC) in 2012, the General Council endorsed and decided to promote, at the request of Palestinian Christian partners, a boycott of three commercial companies located in the settlements contested as Palestinian territories. The Canadian Jewish response through CIJA (The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs) was immediate and strong, leading to a stalled national dialogue in the Canadian Christian-Jewish consultation. What was the debate about? Was the report fair to both the Israeli and Palestinian sides? Is it ever appropriate for the UCC or any religious institution to try to interfere in the geo-political reality of country? Is it realistic to think that this sort of boycott would have any kind of positive result; or rather, would it likely have the opposite effectâ€”of tearing communities apart? What effect did that have on interfaith dialogue? What has the effect been on both communities? Can we learn from our history? How do we encourage dialogue, channel debate and build consensus? Does anybody care?
The Role of Faith in Social Action and Service Yoon Ok Shin and Christina Bellsmith This workshop will provide an opportunity for workshop leaders and participants to identify their understanding of why and how they are committed to the work of social justice and service. We will begin by identifying our faith or spiritual expectations in relation to social action and service and then together explore what this means for each of us in our daily lives as we explore together the implication of how our beliefs and understandings of social action and service affect how we live our lives.
Improving Dialogue Between Atheists and the Religious Jonn Kmech with panelists and speakers There has been a significant growth globally in atheism and secular humanism in the last few decades, particularly among young people who are moving away from faith and religious traditions rapidly. Even though many atheists and believers share similar values and both want to work toward a more peaceful and just world, discussions between them often devolve in hostility and frustration. What common ground can be found between atheists and people of religious faith? What barriers exist that prevent better communication and working together? How can we overcome ideological differences to confront the real problems of our world? This youth panel, made up of both atheists and people from different religious faiths, will discuss these challenging but important questions.
Protecting Creation: Caring for what God Loves Part I: Experiencing God in Creation Dr. Mishka Lysack In this workshop, participants will explore their own experiences of the Divine in nature both as children and as adults, and how these experiences may deepen their own spiritual lives. Through journaling, conversation, listening, and group discussion, participants will learn how to weave these experiences into their own spiritual narratives so that the world of nature is experienced as a sacred place where they can enrich their own spirituality, and learn how to support others in their own spiritual journeys.
Kanata Lewis Cardinal
When Dialogue Dissolves: The United Churchâ€™s 2012 Boycott, and Jewish Response - A Case Study workshop
Edmonton is built on an ancient Aboriginal gathering place. Called the pehonan, it was a spiritual and cultural location where the people honoured and respected each other while in gathering. Kanata means to make sacred: to make pure; to make clean.
1:30 to 3:00 pm
Leap in Faith—Coexistence of World Religions in a Secular State Manju Lodha (Hindu Jain), and Lynda Trono (Multifaith) with Ray Dirks (Mennonite), Isam Aboud (Muslim), Tony Tavares (Catholic) In this workshop we will explore perceptions of a secular state and the coexistence of diverse faiths, through discussion, art, poetry and conversation. Participants will have the opportunity to see clips from Leap in Faith, a Manitoba produced video portraying the variety of faiths in that province.
The Lil Faider Interfaith Scholar-inResidence Project: Promoting Interfaith Religious Literacy Rabbi Shaul Osadchey This workshop will explain the program and how it can be replicated by other congregations and faith communities. Religious illiteracy is one of the major contributing factors to intolerance, prejudice, and conflict between people and among nations. Beth Tzedec Congregation in Calgary has created a unique program to explore the fundamental values, teachings, and observances of one major religious tradition each year over a five year period. A scholar from the selected religion presents a program of learning and experiences that will foster a deeper appreciation of that faith along with activities of mutual interest to bridge that religious community with Beth Tzedec and the Jewish community.
Faiths Coming Together to End Homelessness
Rick Chapman and Brian Kiely
Since 2010, Edmonton’s interfaith community has been actively engaged in supporting the City’s 10-year plan to end homelessness. There has been great progress in the first four years. Our group, The Capital Region Interfaith Initiative on Homelessness and Affordable Housing program has brought together a range of agencies and faith groups in plenary meeting and action projects. We have worked to provide grassroots education in religious communities, recruit volunteers for various housing related projects, and worked to develop broad-based support for housing projects and initiatives. The Welcome Home program has provided friendship support for the newly housed. The Initiative has even helped organize large hands-on ‘interfaith builds’ with Habitat for Humanity. This Panel Conversation will bring together several representatives to discuss our successes and the challenges which lie ahead.
Protecting Creation: Advocating for what God Loves Part 2: Spirituality and the Prophetic Practice of Creation Advocacy Dr Mishka Lysack In this time of a growing environmental crisis, how can we protect creation through faith-centered advocacy and action? What are the building blocks of a spirituality that is the ground of faithful acts of creation care, and a prophetic practice of creation advocacy? In this workshop, participants will explore the key elements of effective faithcentered advocacy, including partnering with allies, and will examine examples of this ministry. Finally, participants will explore their own faith-based calling to advocacy and how it can enrich their own spiritual journeys and communities.
Importance of Music in Different Faith Traditions Zohra Husaini with Dr. Karim Gillani, Dr.Gita Das, Cantor Mannes This will be an interactive workshop. The speakers will make short presentations from different faiths. Audience members will have opportunities to ask questions and make comments after each presenter. There will be a discussion and summation after the speakers. 3:30 to 5:00 pm
Film: The Imam and the Pastor— How Religious Enemies Reconciled to Become Peace-Makers Jack Freebury, Janyce Konkin, Ibrahim Cin ‘The Imam and the Pastor’ depicts the astonishing reconciliation between Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, and the peace-making initiatives which have flowed from it in their community in Nigeria. The film, narrated by Rageh Omaar, shows that it is possible for the perpetrators of inter-religious violence to become instigators of peace. It is both a story of forgiveness and a case study of grass-root initiatives to rebuild communities torn apart by conflict.
Dr. Maggie Hodgson, O.C, Dr. Leona Makokis, Muriel Stanley-Venne, Doreen Wabasca Two Cree, one Metis, and one Carrier woman will speak about their journeys as Indigenous women in the northwest of Turtle Island. Three attended Indian residential schools operated by Roman Catholic entities in conjunction with the Government of Canada and all have faced the enduring effects in their families. They have worked hard to address the impacts of colonialism, assimilation, and racism in their own lives, in their communities and in their country. Their work in the fields of healing from addictions and abuse, of secondary education, and defense of human rights has been recognized, as has their commitment to truth telling, research, reconciliation and finding ways to gently whisper the circle back again.
The Role of Faith Communities in Counteracting Abuse and Bullying John Dowds, Rabbi Kliel Rose, Nasim Kherani, Morag McLean and Travis Enright We explore the role that Faith Communities can play in counteracting abuse and bullying. Included in our discussion will be the hurdles that Faith Communities face and the reality that some faith perspectives and understandings have contributed to, enabled, and perpetuated abusive behavior. In addition, we will explore the theological, ethical and moral responsibilities of faith communities in addressing bullying and abuse and the common ground on which we can all stand as we respond to this social issue. We will also examine how and to what degree Faith Communities use Social Media to address bullying and abuse, best practices already established, and how Social Media might be used more by Faith Communities to communicate their position and to link people in their communities to resources/supports that are available to those being harmed and exploited.
Who are You? Digital Dialogue with “The Other” Dr. Brenda Anderson What role does digital technology play in shaping Canadian Islam(s)? At a time when going online and connecting with new regional, national and global Muslim networks is so easy, how are Canadian Muslims using the Internet and what are they accessing? Just a few easy clicks away, we now have the opportunity to encounter differing religious views between Muslims and between different faith traditions. This raises the question of whether or how digital dialogue impacts individual Muslim beliefs and practices. Is the terminology “online” and “offline” a relevant construct for the younger generation, and how might this blending of the virtual and the “real” impact notions of religiosity?
This paper begins the theorizing process that will drive the interviewing, data collection and analysis of a four-year study to be funded by Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), specifically in the area of digital inter and intra-religious dialogue as practiced by Canadian Muslims.
From Fundamentalism To Religious Violence Dr. Stephen A. Kent Contemporary events indicate that people in a wide variety of religious groups can and do engage in violence (defined here as harm or its threat, especially against others, but even against oneself). Although fundamentalists in various groups may claim special status as self-identified true believers, the intensity of belief in a religion is not a necessary indicator of adherents’ use of violence.
Beyond the “Evolution” vs. “Creation” Debate Dr. Denis O. Lamoureux Are there only two positions on origins: evolution or creation? This presentation is an introduction to terminology, science-religion dialogue, and various views on origins—young earth creation, progressive creation (old earth creation), evolutionary creation (theistic evolution), deistic evolution, and atheistic evolution. The presenter will also share his personal voyage struggling with origins. 6:00
Film: DUMP Edmonton’s unique recycling plant Anthony Goertz and Dave Hubert Dump is a film about Edmonton’s world-renowned waste sorting facility and its management method that is grounded in a policy of care. The facility employs people with barriers to employment such as mental or physical disabilities, criminal records, or addictions. Not only is it a world leader in waste management, it is becoming an example of a successful alternative to workplace management—one that has the power to positively transform the lives of those it employs.
Voices of Indigenous Women
Workshops and Panels Descriptions Saturday May 3 10:30 to noon
Film: Gently Whispering the Circle Back Beth Wishart MacKenzie This film was commissioned by Blue Quills First Nations college to be a ‘Community Resource for Healing and Reconciliation’. This powerful documentary explores the journey of healing in a people wounded by the Canadian Indian Residential School system. With dignity and deep sincerity, survivors and the children of survivors share their personal stories with us inviting us to become part of a circle of healing. As participants confront the reality of the Residential Schools, they come to understand the trauma, release their pain, and speak of transcending the trauma through the recovery of tradition, language, ceremony, and personal dignity. It is a profoundly moving story of human resiliency and generosity.
Healing—a natural & expected outcome of religious faith, understanding and practice
Kate Gibson Oswald and Beth Gibson
What does it mean for us today that the writings of the world’s religions tell us that each religious founder conducted acts of healing and miracle? This workshop will explore how religious practice brings a rich spectrum of what healing means to individuals and communities. We will present highlights from former Newsweek Editor Kenneth Woodward’s, The Book of Miracles—The meaning of the miracle stories in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, and Jeffery Moses’ Oneness: Great Principles shared by all Religions. What do these shared principles tell us about the nature of Ultimate Reality? Can a sense of divine Principle itself be the connecter between Science and Religion —between the ever unknowable and the knowable? Song, harp, and personal story will also be used to explore the idea that anyone can be a healer—if you are practicing your faith you are by definition a healer.
Peace Moving forward for Refugees and Immigrants Lawrence Muganga, Sharif Hiji, Joseph Luri and Olga Garcia This panel will provide an opportunity to hear stories of men and women who have recently come to Canada as a refugee, an immigrant and/or a temporary worker. They will share their experiences of what it was like to leave their home country and to make the journey to Canada and how Canada welcomed them or failed to welcome them. There will be time for questions and reflections from those present.
Creating a Bigger Table for Justice: Collaboration with Civil Society on Social Issues Clint Mooney and others The Calgary Interchurch and Interfaith communities have involved themselves in several issues of civic significance. The workshop will focus on three: Calgary’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, Calgary’s 10-year plan to reduce poverty, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission work. The workshop will explore how such collaborations have developed, the synergies and challenges of such broad collaboration, the unique role of faith communities in civic sector coalitions, and how such collaborations can expand the impact that interfaith work can have on our society.
Art Expression Note Art Expression starts at 10:30 and continues throughout the day. Volunteers from Windsound Learning Society, World Arts Organization and St. Stephen’s College Art Therapy program. We invite you to choose a colour. Make a mark, a line, a shape…join others in creating a mural as you express your experiences of Faiths Coming Together.
The Sweetgrass Journey Elsie Paul, Suzanna Isadore, Mary Paul Faiths Coming Together has created this wonderful opportunity to share about faith and compassion from the Aboriginal Perspective. Our workshop presenters will provide brief and interactive overviews of the meaning and symbolism of several traditional teachings including: • Circle—its meaning and participation • Sweetgrass Ceremony—meaning • Opening Prayer drum song—meaning • Mossbag—teaching • Story telling legend—participation
Stories of Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Wilson MacLennan, Junaid Jahangir, Roxanne Tootoosis This workshop will include panelist’s stories of where they have come from, where they are going now and where they see themselves in the future as persons, as family, as community and as professionals.
Healing the Spirit Shirley Serviss Musicians, visual artists and poets use the arts to lift the spirits of acute-care adult patients at the University of Alberta Hospital and Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute. In this presentation, one of the staff artists will describe the Artists on the Wards program of the Friends of University Hospitals and share stories from the artists’ experiences. She will also read poetry inspired by her interaction with patients.
Faith and Creativity Jonn Kmech with panelists and speakers There are numerous young artists around Edmonton with different faith backgrounds, particularly in the areas of hiphop and spoken word poetry. This panel will bring together several local artists with different religious backgrounds to discuss how their faith has influenced their growth and development as an artist, their music, and their lyrics.
The Importance of Art in Religion Avau Fast Our objective is to showcase our religious places in Edmonton. How to paint one’s own picture showing one’s own love for the divine? To me Edmonton is a beautiful place to live and paint from. We will display churches and faith centres with their faith symbols and their history. And, there will be a short presentation on past religious art. You do not need to be an artist or great painter to do this. This is because in the creative world, I like to do things from the heart.
St. Stephen’s College Beginning at noon and lasting through the afternoon
Visions Of Transformation Through Art Workshop Ara Parker Join in an arts-based inter-faith retreat in the Art Studio at St. Stephen’s College. You are invited, through the gentle facilitation of Art Therapist Ara Parker, to come into a small group community in order to centre, restore and ground Self. You will be guided in an exploration of creativity as a means of envisioning Faiths Coming Together. No previous art experience required. Art materials provided.
1:30 to 3:00 pm
3:30 to 5:00 pm
Social Justice—Local and Global Relationships: Canadian Mining Companies outside Canada Eric Flanagan A discussion on the status of initiatives seeking to impose Canadian environmental regulations and management practices, occupational health and safety requirements and internationally accepted human rights standards on Canadian mining companies engaged in activities outside Canada and barriers to pursuing these propositions and their meaningful implementation.
Deconstructing the arguments of conservative Muslim leaders on samesex relationships in a legal contract Dr. Junaid Jahangir
Many gay Muslim youth and adults are torn between their faith and sexuality. Their problems are compounded by the rigid views espoused by conservative Muslim leaders who provide no middle space between celibacy and the closet. This presentation seeks to deconstruct some of the common arguments that are used to shun dialogue on the nexus between Islam and same-sex relationships. The work of Universalist and affirming Muslims in creating safe spaces for LGBTIQ Muslims will also be highlighted.
Writing As Prayer Shirley Serviss The experience of writing can be like communicating with the Creator. It can be a way to work through difficult situations, gain insight and perspective, celebrate our blessings, or articulate our beliefs. In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to write in response to prompts provided by the facilitator. Time will also be allowed for optional sharing. Please bring writing materials.
The John Humphrey Centre Peacebuilders: Creating Youth Interfaith Dialogue Jonn Kmech with panelists and speakers The John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights Youth Peacebuilders group is a program that allows 18–30 year olds to learn about different faith traditions directly from those who practice them. Started in 2013, the first group traveled to eight different faith organizations around Edmonton to learn about their beliefs, customs, and traditions. We then planned a peace camp for children that focused on moving from tolerance to appreciation of different beliefs. We’ve now just completed our second year of the program with a much larger, even more diverse group of young people. This panel will be comprised of people who’ve completed the Peacebuilders program discussing what they’ve learned, how to improve youth interfaith dialogue, and how to move from tolerating other beliefs to appreciating the diversity of traditions.
Bios Dr. A. Brenda Anderson is Assistant Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies and Religious Studies at Luther College at the University of Regina. She completed her dissertation in Religious Studies on Feminist Inter Religious Dialogical Activism: A Hybrid Space for New Identities, with focus on Muslim and Christian feminists. She co-chairs a committee of the Regina Multi-Faith Forum hosting the international conference of the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) in 2015 in Regina.
Christina Bellsmith B. Th., M. Div., D. Min candidate, is the minister of McDougall United Church in downtown Edmonton. She moved to Alberta after spending several years of ministry in Ontario. Christina originally served in the Pentecostal church, successfully starting a multicultural church in the city of Mississauga. She brings with her some of the fervor and spirit of that ministry. In the years since however, she has added to that experience a wider theology of grace that focuses on God’s unconditional love for each of us. She believes in the importance of being authentic and of being connected to the Creator in a way that leads to fulfillment of our true potential and an inner state of well-being. Her special interest is church renewal. She also loves to explore God ‘outside the box’ and is particularly fascinated with the latest discoveries in quantum energy and how they affect our traditional views on theology. She has served in United Churches in Acton, Toronto, Milton, and Shelburne. She is currently working on a doctoral thesis that explores some of the differences between religion and spirituality. Lewis Cardinal is a communicator and educator who has
Ibrahim Cin Executive Director of Intercultural Dialogue Institute in Edmonton whose mission is to promote cross-cultural awareness in order to attain peace and diversity with our neighbours and help establish a better society where individuals love, respect and accept each other as they are. Dr.Gita Das Vice President Indo-Canadian Women’s Association and counsellor to immigrant women, she has written and edited many publications including International Arranged Marriage and New Horizons, Human Rights Education for Families, Our Culture, Our Rights, and Reconciling Human Rights and Cultural Practices. Avau Fast was born in Baluchistan, a country that now hardly exists. Her early life was spent travelling from one town to another in Northern India with her parents. Since her father worked for the Northern Railway during the British Rule she got to experience living with people from various parts of the British Empire and the local people of India with their rich cultural Inheritance. Having grown up with Hindu Temples, Buddhist stupors, Jewish Synagogues, Muslim mosques and Christian churches around her, the beauty of these buildings and their rich decorative icons stimulated her to study World Religions. While respecting all faiths her love for her own faith has never wavered. Her Zoroastrian Faith has taught her to respect all faiths. Eric Flanagan did his formal studies at Waterloo University in Ontario in the areas of civil engineering and environmental studies. He moved to Alberta in 1980 where he was employed by Edmonton Power in the area of environmental concerns as well as other companies interested in environmental issues. He is currently working for the Alberta Government in this same area.
dedicated himself to creating and maintaining connections and relationships that cross cultural divides. His work has mirrored his personal vision of a socially just and responsive society. His long track record of public service includes founding board member of Racism Free Edmonton, Executive Board member of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, Founder and Co‑Chair of the Indigenous Peoples’ Art and Culture Coalition, Board member of Little Warriors, former Chair of Edmonton Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee, Bissell Centre Board of Governors, Chair and Founder of Global Indigenous Dialogue, Trustee and Executive member of the Council for a Parliament of World’s Religions (Chicago), Executive Vice‑President of the Aboriginal Voices Radio Network, and was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for the Alberta Council of Women’s Shelters.
Olga Garcia is a native of Colombia who immigrated to Canada as a refugee claimant with her husband and three sons, on November 2003. Back home she was a Spanish teacher for 18 years in both catholic and public schools. Currently she is engaged with the community as a settlement counsellor at Catholic Social Services since 2008 and as a volunteer in different community programs.
Rick Chapman offers a ministry of presence within the inner city community of Edmonton. Ministering among individuals experiencing homelessness and poverty, Pastor Rick offers a ministry of presence and worship in an interdenominational context. Ecumenical support including the ministry team, volunteers and supporting churches and the synagogues has enabled the continuation of this ministry for more than 35 years.
Kate Gibson Oswald BFA, B. Ed., is a professional vocalist and harpist and part-time Christian healer spending her time composing, teaching, recording and performing solo as well as with a number of world musicians including guitarist Myles Morrison (National Steel guitar) in Harp and Steel.
Dr. James Christie BA, MDiv, MA, DMin, is Professor of
Dialogue Theology in the United Centre for Theological Studies and Director of the Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy in the Global College of University of Winnipeg. He was Theologian to the Justice Department of Canada Forum on Genetic Futures, participated in the first Canadian Church Leaders’ Study Mission on HIV/AIDS to East Africa, and is a visiting Fellow of the International Islamic University in Malaysia.
Beth Gibson BA in Religious Studies and Anthropology, is a multi-faith event planner and Community Events Coordinator at First Church of Christian Science in Victoria.
Dr. Karim Gillani BBA and MBA (Hamdard University, Pakistan), Graduate of Islamic Studies and Humanities (The Institute of Ismaili Studies, UK), M.A. and Ph.D. (Music and Religious Studies, University of Alberta) teaches world music courses at the University of Alberta, including Indian Music Ensemble and Popular Music of Bollywood (Hindi Cinema). His areas of interest include music and Islam, Sufism of South Asia, popular music and literature of Pakistan and India, and Muslim migration, diaspora and transmission. 13
Anthony Goertz is a filmmaker, poet, and graphic designer from Edmonton. His films reflect his passion for social justice, especially on an interpersonal level. Dr. Maggie Hodgson, O.C has been an advisor on Indian
Residential Schools to the community and the federal government on civic engagement for 16 years. She is a Founder of National Day of Healing and Reconciliation in 2002 and member of Nadleth Whut’en First Nation.
Zohra Husaini has researched and published on women’s
issues extensively. After her research on immigrant women she started Changing Together, A Centre for Immigrant Women, serving women of Edmonton for the last 25 years. She has also researched on forced marriage in ethno cultural communities in Canada and made presentations at the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) symposium in Toronto.
Jack Freebury BA and MBA (University of Alberta), has since 1997 been a policy analyst at Alberta Labour which included preparation of Alberta Government reports on UN human rights conventions and ILO conventions. He has volunteered with Initiatives of Change which works to inspire, equip and connect people to address world needs, starting with themselves in the areas of trustbuilding, ethical leadership and sustainable living. A focus in this has been engaging with indigenous people which led to working four years as business administrator for the Indian Association of Alberta. Dr. Junaid Jahangir is Lecturer in Economics at MacEwan University in Alberta and staunch supporter of both Muslims for Progressive Values and Salaam Canada. Dr. Jahangir is inspired by his friends at the Southminster-Steinhauer United Church in Edmonton and aims to explore an expansive theology. He also works with Alabama-based Dr. Hussein Abdul Latif on developing a renewed perspective on Muslim same-sex unions. Belle Jarniewski MA Candidate in Dialogue Theology,
University of Winnipeg, is Chairperson of the Freeman Family Foundation Holocaust Education Centre (Winnipeg), Member of the Community Partners Council, Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy (University of Winnipeg), Vice-President of Canadian Associates of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She has recently been asked to join the Canadian delegation of the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance). Her book, Voices of Winnipeg Holocaust Survivors, found in every Manitoba high school, has sold over 1,000 copies.
Dr. Stephen Kent is a sociologist at the University of Alberta and an Adjunct Professor in the Religious Studies Program. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the sociology of religion specializing in the study of new and often controversial religions and ideological groups.
Brian Kiely Meadville/Lombard Theological School, and The University of Chicago, is a Steering Committee Member of Capitol Region Interfaith Initiative on Housing and Homelessness (Edmonton) and former President of International Council of Unitarians and Universalists. He is the Minister of the Unitarian Church of Edmonton.
Jon Kmech is a volunteer with the Edmonton Interfaith Centre’s Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, which he got involved with through his work with the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights Youth Peacebuilders program. He is a Zen practitioner and works as a Research Assistant in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta. Janyce Konkin is Project Manager for Initiatives of Change,
an international peace organization. As Project Manager she is responsible for overseeing numerous initiatives such as: the IofC@UofC Club; the local Creators of Peace Circles; Bridges to a Common Future Interfaith Dialogue; as well as partnering, outreach and honest conversations with the business community, local organizations, and others in need. She is an alumni of the University of Calgary, 2006, where she did her undergraduate degree with a Major in Development Studies and Minor in Law & Society. In 2007/08 she went on to get her Masters Degree in Peace & Conflict Studies at the European University Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies (EPU) in Austria. Her thesis is titled “First Do No Harm: A Comparative Analysis of African and Western Methods of Conflict Transformation.”
Dr. Denis O. Lamoureux Associate Professor of Science and Religion at St. Joseph’s College in the University of Alberta, holds three earned doctoral degrees: dentistry, evangelical theology, and evolutionary biology. He is the author of Evolutionary Creation: A Christian Approach to Evolution (2008) and was a contributor in Four Views on the Historical Adam (Zondervan, 2013). Manju Lodha is a Hindu/Jain artist from Manitoba who
has worked with many students, in public and private schools encouraging them to express themselves, their culture and their faith through art.
Joseph Luri is a youth worker at the Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers. He left Sudan because of the conflict in the country in 1990. He was a refugee in Uganda until the Canadian government sponsored him to come to Canada in 1998. Dr. Mishka Lysack associate professor (Social Work) & adjunct assistant professor (Medicine) University of Calgary is an Anglican priest and co-editor of book Living Ecological Justice. Dr. Leona Makokis is a former residential school student
and long associated with Blue Quills First Nations University in St. Paul, AB as Past President and currently as an instructor. She is a member of Kehewin Cree Nation but is originally from Saddle Lake Cree Nation.
Cantor David Mannes Hebrew Union College, is Ritual
Assistant (Cantor-educator) at Beth Shalom Synagogue in Edmonton. Previously he was at Northshore Jewish Congregation (Vancouver), Sinai Reform Temple (New York) and Beth Yehuda Synagogue (Toronto).
Beth Wishart MacKenzie is an educator and filmmaker
Shirley Serviss is Literary Artist on the Wards with
Wilson MacLennan following a career with the Royal
Yoon Ok Shin Bachelor of Religious Education (Hanshin University, Korea) has worked as a social worker, educator and activist for women’s dignity at Women’s Hot line in Korea before coming to Canada in 1992. She initially came through a return program hosted by students at St. Stephen’s College. She returned a year later and shortly thereafter studied at the Centre for Christian Studies, graduating in 2000 with a Diploma. In 2009 she completed a Master of Theological Studies in Diaconal Ministry at St. Stephen’s College. Yoon Ok has served 4 different pastoral charges since coming to Canada sharing her passion and joy for social justice.
who seeks to capture and communicate the richness and complexity of cultural and religious life in Canada and to examine the challenges multicultural co-existence presents to Canadians. She has a master’s degree in comparative religion and literature from the University of Alberta and first came to filmmaking in 2007 when she worked with filmmaker and friend Carlo Ghioni to make the documentary, Unforgotten, which tells the story of an old Canadian cowboy. From there, she recognized that filmmaking was a wonderful tool for comparative religious studies.
Canadian Mounted Police, he has been employed by the United Church of Canada in human resources and administrative positions. He conducts investigations and reviews into complaints against ministry personnel and other church employees on behalf of the United Church and other denominations. He lectures at training sessions and workshops for clergy, other church employees, and volunteers regarding the Sexual Abuse Prevention and Response Policy of the United Church and Professional Ethics. He is a trained Conflict Resolution Facilitator and currently holds the position of Resource Administrator with Edmonton Presbytery of the United Church.
Clinton M. Mooney BA Hons., Carleton University; M.Math. U. of Waterloo; M.Div. Emmanual College, Toronto; M.Th. Princeton U., was ordained in The United Church of Canada, Toronto Conference in 1974 and served Pastoral Charges in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Alberta, retiring in 2012. Over the years he has served on National UCC Working Unit on Social Issues and Justice, Division of Mission in Canada, and Interchurch Interfaith Committee. He has worked throughout his ministry on ecumenical coalitions many that are now part of KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. Currently he serves as Chair of the Calgary KAIROS committee. Lawrence Muganga was born in Somalia and is now
Acting Executive Director at Edmonton Multicultural Coalition—a not-for-profit society of culturally and linguistically diverse communities that works with community leaders, the voluntary sector and public institutions to ensure that individuals and ethno-cultural community organizations have equitable access to resources and opportunities to facilitate integration into their new homeland and improve their quality of life.
Rabbi Shaul Osadchey is a native of Los Angeles and,
prior to coming to Calgary’s Beth Tzedec Congregation, served the Jewish community of Houston for 30 years as Director of the Houston B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation and Rabbi of Congregations Brith Shalom and Congregation Or Ami. He holds a B.A. in Religious Studies and Political Science from the University of California at Berkeley, a Master’s Degree in Hebrew Language at Hebrew Union College, Rabbinic Ordination from Hebrew Union College, and a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causis, from Hebrew Union College and the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Edmonton-based Friends of University Hospitals. She has a Christian background (United Church and Moravian) with a Masters in Theological Studies from St. Stephen’s College, University of Alberta.
Muriel Stanley Venne B.A. (Hon.), is a Métis Activist, born in Alberta. She is President and Founder of the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women and currently Chair, Aboriginal Commission on Human Rights and Justice for Alberta as well as Vice President of the Remembering the Children Society. She is a confirmed Anglican and has attended Roman Catholic and Unitarian congregations. Roxanne Tootoosis Plains Cree/Saulteaux originally from
the Poundmaker Cree Nation near Cut Knife, Saskatchewan who resides in Edmonton. She is a proud mother of two beautiful and talented daughters who inspire her to live fearlessly and with passion. She is a strong LGTBQ advocate and transgendered rights ally for “two-spirited.” She worked as an Aboriginal Cultural Helper at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for seven years providing cultural and spiritual support to Aboriginal patients and their families. She is an NIHB (Non-Insured Health Benefits) Navigator for Treaty 8 First Nations of Alberta and a student in the Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality Program at St. Stephen’s College.
Lynda Trono chairs the Education committee of the Manitoba Multifaith Council. She is a diaconal minister in the United Church and works in inner city ministry in Winnipeg. Doreen Wabasca is a historian, truck driver and retired labourer/foreman who searched for the history of her own family and overcame the prejudice she experienced in obtaining employment in Edmonton, finally becoming a respected member of her community.
Ara Parker is Associate Chair, Art Therapy Program St. Stephen’s College. She leads an innovative Art Therapy Program that is developing and growing within Master of Psychotherapy and Spirituality (MPS) Program at St. Stephen’s College.
Thank you to all the presenters and speakers. Thank you to Councillors Bev Esslinger and Amarjeet Sohi and their colleagues on Edmonton City Council.
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Edmonton Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions
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Thank you to Dr. Earle Sharam, Principal and Dean of St. Stephen’s College.
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f o r a P a rli a m e n t
www.edmontoncpwr.ca Executive Len Gierach • Chair Virginia Sharek • Vice-Chair Don Mayne • Secretary- Treasurer George Rodgers Members Paul Bergen • Publicity Committee Chair Guy Blood Al Buttnor Lewis Cardinal • Trustee, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions Rick Chapman John Dowds • City of Edmonton Chaplain Prem Kalia Jonn Kmech Betty Marlin • Program Committee Chair Bodhi Sakyadhita Lori Stewart Shelley Trepanier John Wright Larry Wright Rob Hankinson • Executive Director John Mahon • Conference Organizer Netta Phillet • Coordinator, Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action Joe Kennedy • Conference Graphics Gomez Design • Website Design
On September 21st, 2012, the United Nations International Day of Peace, the City of Edmonton was proclaimed An Inaugural City in The Partner City Network of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions joining the legacy Partner Cities of Chicago, Capetown, Barcelona, Melbourne and the City of San Jose and the County of Santa Clara, California in the Partner Cities Network of the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Helen Spector, a Council for Parliament of the World’s Religions (Chicago) Trustee Emerita, presented Stephen Mandel, then Mayor of Edmonton, a plaque commemorating the occasion and setting forth the principles and expectations of such a declaration. The Faiths Coming Together conference is a testimony to that partnership. The Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action (EICEA) has enjoyed two distinguished decades of interfaith endeavours with and relationships between people of various faiths and ideologies. In the spring of 1995 Dr. Mary Hall, then Director of the Birmingham (U.K.) Interfaith Centre, provided the inspiration and the encouragement to create a Centre for Edmonton which would work to promote interfaith respect, friendship, harmony and understanding. In 1998 the fledgling EICEA hosted the 10th anniversary gathering of the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN). The EICEA’s support for this Partner City Event is consistent with that history and the Centre’s ongoing vision. Edmonton does not pursue this vision alone. Interfaith and multifaith councils and societies in western Canada attend with diligence and vigour to projects and activities unique to their own context. In recent years a sharing of best practices and a developing collegiality has characterized this growing network. In 2015 the Regina Multifaith Council together with Multifaith Saskatchewan will host the North American Interfaith Network (NAIN) “Connect” and annual meeting, and western Canadian interfaith organizations look forward to collaborating in this effort. Since May 2010 the City of Edmonton and the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action have shown interest in hosting the Parliament of the World’s Religions during Canada’s 150th birthday. In November 2013, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and City administrators, together with Edmonton and district faith leaders met with the Chair and the Executive Secretary of the Council for Parliament of the World’s Religions when they visited Edmonton to further this exploration. Faiths Coming Together, our Partner City Event this weekend is another step along the way to 2017.