VMS AGM: The Global 911 Call

In accordance with Covid-related guidelines from BC Societies, VMS will hold its 2020 AGM online at 7pm, Wednesday, 24 February 2021, beginning with an inspiring event on the Healing the Planet theme.

Dr Mary-Wynne Ashford will speak on the hopeful, game-changing efforts underway to reshape international institutions to reflect our common spiritual values.

Dr Ashford, MD, PhD. is Past President of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War which won the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. She has been a leader in the international peace and disarmament movement for over twenty years, and has a special interest in the need for global collaboration at this critical point in our history.

The presentation and Q&A session will be followed by a brief report by the Victoria Multifaith Society and introduction of the board. 

This event is free and open to the public. It is co-sponsored by the UVic Multifaith Centre, International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Canada) and the Community Partnership Network, a program of the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria.

The zoom link and reminders are given with free Eventbrite registration.

Youth Panel “Talking About Race”

VMS Event, World Interfaith Harmony Week 2021

In honour of World Interfaith Harmony Week, a panel of four diverse young Canadians will speak about the changing concept of race from the perspective of their lives and beliefs.

“Talking about Race” will be held online,Thursday, 4 February, at 7 p.m. This VMS-initiated event is co-sponsored by the UVic Multifaith Centre and the Community Partnership Network, a program of the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA).

Steve Baileys of ICA will MC the event, which will also feature Q&A, and a visual multi-faith presentation.

Free reservations and Zoom link are available at this Eventbrite link. Eventbrite will automatically send reminders to you closer to the date. 

Presentation on Homelessness

Monday January 18 @ 2pm – The Interfaith Liaisons Network of VMS (ILN) presents Homelessness from a Spiritual Perspective with guest speaker Janine Theobald. Janine, who holds the Buddhist seat on the board of the Victoria Multifaith Society, also brings her experience from her years of work in the homelessness serving
sector. The presentation will be followed by Q&A.

This is the first of four online guest presentations, all open to the public, to be hosted by ILN between January and May. Speakers will present spiritual/ethical perspectives on Homelessness, Economics, Racism, and the Environment.

Please register (free) at Eventbrite to receive the Zoom link and reminders, and to be notified of upcoming presentations.

VMS Chair receives Order of Canada

John Borrows has been named an Officer of the Order of Canada, “for his scholarly work on Indigenous rights and legal traditions, which have had a significant impact across Canada and abroad”. The Order of Canada is one of our country’s highest awards, established in 1967 and bestowed annually by the governor general. The announcement was made December 30th, 2020.

John joined the board of the Victoria Multifaith Society in June 2019 as our board member for Indigenous Spirituality. He is a law professor at the University of Victoria (profile here), where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law.

New Video: Healing the Planet

Aligning our Institutions with Humanity’s Deepest Values & Aspirations

The Healing the Planet Open Letter from VMS has now been released as a short video. Describing the challenges and opportunities as we approach the end of this eventful year, the video provides a glimpse of where we are and the where we need to go, combining spirituality, pragmatism, and a visionary view of the future.

The theme will be featured at our upcoming AGM, 24 February 2021, with keynote speaker Dr Mary-Wynne Ashford presenting The Global 911 Call: Who Will Answer? on reshaping our international institutions to reflect our common spiritual values.

World Partnership Walk

The World Partnership Walk is virtual this year, from 27 October to 6 December. Every dollar raised will be quadrupled through matching funds, going to the poorest of the poor around the world. You can register to contribute as an individual or team. Each week a video checkpoint from a different country will be featured, so you can track your progress. The World Partnership Walk is organized by the Aga Khan Foundation. Start a team or register as an individual today!

Register for the World Partnership Bingo Fundraiser 29 Nov 2020: https://tinyurl.com/wpwvictoria

WPW in Afghanistan: an amazing story

BC Food Drive has begun!

VMS encourages all to donate to the BC Thanksgiving Food (Fund) Drive to help local food banks meet the increased demand in these difficult times. Due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the drive is requesting online donations of funds rather than bags of food. This has the added benefit of providing $3 worth of food for every $1 donated.

Some may have received (or help deliver) the colourful door hangers publicizing the food drive. Please note that the website for donations is case sensitive if entered manually, or you can simply click on the link here: bit.ly/BCFoodDrive Choose the food bank you’d like to receive your donation, either one time or recurring, and enter “BCTFD” in the message section of your donation. An enormous THANK YOU to all who have made this possible, and to the food banks for their valuable work in our community.

Bells for Peace

8:15 a.m. on August 6th 

& 11:50 a.m. on August 9th

To commemorate the 75th anniversaries of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and say “Never Again”

Event Poster

Communities are invited to ring bells or “make a righteous noise” at the time of dropping of the bombs.

Individuals are invited to set a reminder and take a moment to reflect…

Set a chime for these times…”

  • On ​​Thursday, August 6th and Sunday, August 9th church bells, hand bells and other appropriate devices are to be rung across Vancouver Island at the time of the bombs:  8:15 a.m. on August 6th and 11:50 a.m. on August 9th.

All are invited to take part in the online educational event:

  • On Thursday, August 6thth at noon, a live Zoom presentation on the current nuclear weapons threat, nuclear weapons and religious faith, and the public health and the environmental consequences of nuclear weapons.​  

Register here to receive the Zoom link.

Printable Event Details and Press Release

The distinguished presenters for this event are two physicians and a brilliant young student activist: 

Dr. Mary-Wynne Ashford is past President of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, winner of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. She has twice been awarded the Governor General of Canada Award and has participated in humanitarian missions to North Korea.
Magritte Gordaneer from Victoria is a student at McGill University. She founded McGill Students for Peace and Disarmament, the university’s only student peace group. Magritte travelled to Hiroshima to participate in the Academy on Nuclear Weapons and Global Security presented by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Jonathan Down is President of Physicians for Global Survival. He is a pediatrician at the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health in Victoria and an adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia and University of Victoria.
Moderator for the program is Bill Geimer, US army veteran and Professor of Law Emeritus, Washington and Lee University.

Send any questions to Bill Geimer at peacevetcanada@gmail.com

 The week of 2-9 August, 2020 is to be designated as Hibakusha Remembrance Week honouring the survivors of the bombings. 

Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and peace groups are invited to arrange related education events.

Healing the Planet: An Open Letter

It’s again time for bold ideas and courageous initiatives.

This year may be remembered as the moment when humanity drew together as the pandemic and then the Black Lives Matter movement swept across the globe, both demanding profound change and growth. Together with the brewing storm of the climate crisis these have led to a growing realization that we can’t go back to business as usual; we need to seek effective solutions.

As the board of a multifaith society from nine spiritual traditions and several cultures, it seems evident that these changes need to be inclusive and unifying. Healing and recovery in Canada and elsewhere can’t be short-sighted or fragmented; it has to take place within a coherent whole. Systemic problems require systemic solutions. For our greatest challenges, those systems are now global.

It’s significant that 26 June 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter, created to establish peace and security in the world, goals more important now than ever. There are now multiple existential threats facing us, some of which didn’t exist in mid-20th Century. Courageous changes such as those that impelled us forward then are again needed, reforming and updating international institutions to allow them to achieve their original promise. To that end, we would like to offer these thoughts.

  • Interconnection and interdependence, the defining characteristics of our times, have created enormous pressures for effective global governance. The level of organization needed in such fields as health, collective security, environmental stewardship and basic human rights can’t be achieved without redesigning international institutions to be “fit for purpose”.
  • The UN Charter, a revolutionary document which begins “We the Peoples…”, must be given the capacity to carry out the will and safeguard the interests of the world’s peoples. Big power politics, partisanship and narrow interests need to give way to a higher loyalty to humanity itself.
  • Listening to those with knowledge and experience is the first step in moving towards a healthy planet with a just and effective system of global governance. There are already many informed proposals designed to increase the democratic character of our global institutions, offering protection against disproportionate power and bringing the rule of law to the international sphere. Key proposals and other useful tools are on the Resources page of our website.

It’s time to put our house in order so that the world begins to respond to the values and aspirations of the majority of its inhabitants. Our efforts to heal the planet will succeed to the extent that they’re aligned with the principles that are the common ground of our spiritual traditions, such as justice, the worth and dignity of every person, and respect and compassion for all life. Those core values are based on a recognition of our essential oneness: what affects the least fortunate of us affects us all.

As members of a planetary civilization that must learn to nurture all its children, we have work to do. This includes educating ourselves and joining with others for the impact needed to create enduring, beneficial change. The question, “How can we help?”, is one we all need to ask.

“The enormous difficulties of this undertaking and the challenging times ahead should be acknowledged, but every global citizen needs to be inspired by positive visions of the better future that is possible.” [1]

With deep respect for all who are working to bring about that future,

The Victoria Multifath Society

[1] Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century, Augusto Lopez-Claros, Arthur Dahl, Maja Groff, Cambridge University Press, Jan. 2020.