The Victoria Multifaith Society was shocked and saddened at the horrific revelation of the mass graves of Indigenous children in Kamloops. We have now been again deeply dismayed at the news of the hate-motivated act of violence against an innocent Muslim family in London, Ontario.
No words are adequate in times of such pain. As members of the Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, New Thought, Bahá’í, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Indigenous communities, we would like our Indigenous and Muslim neighbours to know that we stand with them in solidarity and shared humanity.
We wish to call these acts of racism, past and present, what they are. They have underlined the need to work all the harder in our anti-racism work and increase our efforts to create a healthier society that celebrates both our essential unity and our immense diversity.
We all need to look at our hearts, our speech, our actions, to be constantly vigilant against hatred or prejudice towards any group or individual, instead seeking in whatever large or small ways we can to heal these social ills.
In many of our sacred teachings, the Creator is the source of all love. The sentiment is not uncommon that “…love is light, no matter in what abode it dwelleth; and hate is darkness, no matter where it may make its nest”. No matter what our personal beliefs, may we all draw strength from our common spiritual values and seek to reflect that love.
VMS was pleased to learn recently that we’ve been awarded a BC Multiculturalism grant for our provincial Anti-Racism project. MLA Murray Rankin called to announce the news personally, speaking online with several board members. The goal of the year-long project is to work with a group of about 10 diverse community leaders to adapt or co-create an anti-racism tool that can be used by a wide variety of communities and age groups.
This follows up on our Victoria-based project, Discussing Racism in Multifaith Spaces, begun in January and funded by the Vancouver Foundation. Both projects are being done in collaboration with the Montreal-based national non-profit Centre for Civic Religious Literacy (CCRL). VMS is very appreciative of both the Vancouver Foundation and BC Multiculturalism for their support, and happy to be given the opportunity to address this important issue.
In a recent incident at the Jewish Chabad near Topaz Park vandals left hateful anti-Semitic graffiti on the synagogue sign, on Holocaust Memorial Day. Our Jewish board member, Ora Stefanic, sent news of the graffiti, soon followed by the heartwarming photo below of the notes of support spontaneously left following the incident by concerned citizens. As Rabbi Meir Kaplan said, “The best response to darkness is to increase the light and so we plan to do.” VMS would like to express solidarity and support for our Jewish neighbours as they continue to live the spiritual values that contribute so much to our community.
Special thanks go to this year’s guest speaker at our AGM, Dr Mary-Wynne Ashford, for her presentation, “The Global 911 Call”. Below are links to the book mentioned and two websites recommended. Mary-Wynne will also be offering a weekly course on the same subject, A Just Global Order, on Monday evenings 26 April to 31 May, with Eventbrite registration.
In accordance with Covid-related guidelines from BC Societies, VMS will hold its 2020 AGM online at 7pm, Wednesday, 24 February2021, 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.
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.
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.
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.