2024 Multifaith Calendar

The beautiful new 2024 Multifaith Calendar is available here from the Multifaith Action Society in print and electronic versions. Featuring 23 pieces of stunning original art from visual artists across North America and Internationally, the 10″x13″ calendar can be used as a gift or to become more aware of the various commemorations and special days of each spiritual tradition.

• An inclusive and comprehensive source of information for those wanting to learn more about world religions.

• A unique and comprehensive resource for organizations wishing to demonstrate inclusivity and a welcoming environment for customers and co-workers. 

AGM Report 2023

VMS held its Annual General Meeting on Sunday Oct. 29, 2023 at the Multifaith Centre at the University of Victoria. Thanks go out to our Chair John Borrows as MC, Rev. Lesia Kohut for her inspiring keynote presentation on Cultivating Harmony in a Polarized World, and to all those who reported and participated.

Warm appreciation was expressed to outgoing board members Janine Theobald (Buddhist Seat), Jagir Virk (Sikh Seat), Ora Stefanic (Jewish Seat) and David Batterham (Bahá’í Seat) for their dedicated service on the VMS Board.

Welcome and unanimous affirmation were given to Fletcher Bennett (Bahá’í Seat), Rabbi Harry Brechner (Jewish Seat), and Bhavin-Singh Nihang (Sikh Seat). It was noted that the Buddhist seat remains vacant and the board is seeking candidates.

VMS Board 2023 – 2024:
Sheila Flood, Executive Director
John Borrows – Chair, Indigenous Spirituality
Henri Lock – Secretary, Christian seat
Fletcher Bennett – Treasurer, Bahá’í seat
Rabbi Harry Brechner – Jewish seat
Shrikant Shenwai – Hindu seat
Rev. Lesia Kohut – New Thought
May Shihadeh – Muslim seat
Bhavin-Singh Nihang – Sikh seat
Vacant – Buddhist seat

Cultivating Harmony in a Polarized World VMS AGM 29 October 2023

Our AGM is scheduled from 3 to 5 pm, Sunday, October 29, 2023 at the UVic Multifaith Centre at the entrance to Finnerty Gardens. (Map here.)

VMS board member, New Thought Minister, author and speaker Rev. Lesia Kohut will present “Cultivating Harmony in a Polarized World“. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on this important topic and on our plans for the upcoming year.

Our MC will be VMS Chair Dr John Borrows, Loveland Chair in Indigenous Law.

All are welcome to attend. Those wishing to support VMS by becoming a member can do so in person at the AGM or at Donate/Join on the upper navigation bar. Membership is by a donation of any amount.

A true community event!

10 minute video collage by Jim Flood

The One Spirit event in the Hindu Parishad & Cultural Centre in Saanichton was a great success! The video above gives the highlights of the evening, which had everyone humming, singing or dancing at different points in the program.

A huge thank you to the Hindu community for welcoming us and serving a wonderful meal, to our MCs Shrikant Shenwai and Lesia Kohut, and to the many volunteers and participants!

Special thanks to our wonderful presenters: Scott Sam and Our Culture Matters drummers (right); Rabbi Matthew Ponak (above); Bita Kamalian of the Baha’i community; Sharron MacLeod of New Thought in Nanaimo; Bob Gilbert and Amy Nold of the United Church; Prashant Pednekar and Vinod & Robina Bhardwaj, Hindu community; Carol Ann Sokoloff of the Sufi community; John Borrows, VMS Chair.

Roughly 70 people attended the event, organized by VMS in collaboration with the Hindu community. Several others viewed the live stream from the FB event page, where the entire program can be seen, including the ending dance with multifaith lyrics (at 1:25).

One Spirit, 1 October 2023

The Hindu Parishad and Cultural Centre and VMS will again host one of our favourite events, the arts devotional One Spirit, at 4:00 pm, Sunday 1 October at 1934 Cultra Ave. in Saanichton. One Spirit celebrates all faiths through song, poetry, chanting, drumming and other joyful forms of expression. The program includes presentations from many different traditions, followed by a Southeast Asian vegetarian meal in the adjoining hall. Payment is by donation. Please register in advance using this Google Form. (A gmail address isn’t needed to register.) Hall capacity is 100. Live Streaming will be available at this Event page.


Our Shared Future, our 17 September event with Clare Attwell and Trevor Hancock was attended by 37 people who were inspired by the vision expressed. Colleague Joe Brewer from the Design School for Regenerating Earth will be visiting Victoria October 21-24. There will be a public forum Tuesday Oct 24, 7.30 PM in the C103 Lecture Theatre, David Strong Building, UVic. More details to follow or check the website One Planet Conversations. To receive updates please register at the Our Shared Future google form.

Our Shared Future

Dr Trevor Hancock and Clare Attwell will be presenting “Our Shared Future as a Bioregion: Re-forging the Connections” at 2:30 on Sunday, September 17th at the Multifaith Centre, at the gateway to Finnerty Gardens, University of Victoria. (Map here) The organizations they’re involved in are at the cutting edge of progress in this area, and an inspiration to do all we can to further the cause of living in harmony with nature and each other.  

What would it take to live within the limits of the places we call home – while also living responsibly as citizens of this planet?

All life on Earth shares only one planet.  Yet, as the dominant species, we have weakened our connections to the rest of life and each other.  We now face cascading global and local challenges that will require levels of cooperation unlike anything humans have done before. What will it take to rekindle those connections? How do we weave the knowledge from the work already happening on the ground throughout our bioregion?  How do we honour ‘story of place’ along with the indigenous and spiritual dimensions of this work? Shouldn’t we be talking about this?
Please indicate your interest by signing up on this Google form.

Those who express an interest will be invited to a follow up meeting in October with Joe Brewer and colleagues from the Design School for Regenerating Earth. For related information on social and ecological sustainability in Victoria and the Cascadia bioregion, you might also like to see One Planet Conversations and Regenerating Cascadia.

Dr. Trevor Hancock is public health physician, retired Professor and Senior Scholar at the School of Public Health and Social Policy, University of Victoria. In the 1980s he helped to create the global healthy cities movement and has been an internationally recognised leader in this area. In recent years he has focused on the concept of a ‘One Planet’ community/region as a way to integrate the concepts of healthy and sustainable communities, and has started a new NGO, Conversations for a One Planet Region. 

Clare Attwell has worked in community cultural development from the local to provincial level, and as a textile and multi-media artist. She currently works with several local and global communities engaged in Earth Regeneration. These include the Design School For Regenerating Earth, Regenerate Cascadia, and Conversations for a One Planet Region Society, a local, Victoria based non-profit helping to catalyze a Bioregional conversation across the region. 

Hiroshima-Nagasaki Day 2023

Around 250 people attended this year’s event on a beautiful August evening, seated on folding chairs, lawn chairs and blankets for this great grassroots community event. Thanks go out to the many organizations, volunteers, staff and public who made it a great success! Working together to commemorate the unspeakable tragedy of the atomic bombings of 1945 produced a celebration of our collective determination to create a more peaceful world.

Although the event has taken place in Victoria for about 25 years, this is just the 2nd year at the new Japanese-style Pavilion in Esquimalt Gorge Park. This year’s event was organized under the auspices of the Greater Victoria Peace School with the support of the Victoria Multifaith Society, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society, and the Raging Grannies (the original organizers).

Lantern-making on the porch of the Pavilion was followed by a program with MC Lyle Mackenzie, with Elder Bear Sam,  the Furusato dancers, Taiko Drummers, Gettin’ Higher Choir and Raging Grannies interspersed with speakers. The evening ended with the floating of the lanterns on the reflecting pools just after sunset at 9 pm. A 2-minute video clip of the evening’s highlights and a few photographs set to Taiko drumming are at the links. Mark your calendars for future years! The Pavilion has already been reserved by the organizers for August 6 in 2024 and 2025!

Honouring Peace

Join us on August 6th, 2023, to celebrate peace, launch lanterns, and enjoy Japanese culture! Reserve a spot and get the map link here on Eventbrite.

Honouring Peace: Hiroshima-Nagasaki Day is a free, family-friendly event that will be held outdoors at the beautiful Japanese-style Gorge Park Pavilion, on the 78th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Each year, peace is celebrated and its importance remembered through music, poetry, dance and drumming that moves and inspires us.

Lantern-making will begin at 7:00 pm on the outdoor porch of the Pavilion (all materials provided), and an educational display will be available indoors. The program will begin at 7:30 pm and end with the launching of the lanterns in the Pavilion reflecting pools at 9 pm. A container for donations will be passed for those who wish to contribute to costs. Information on the program and seating is at the Eventbrite link.

Honouring Peace is supported by the Greater Victoria Peace School (GVPS), with support from the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society (VNCS), the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War Canada (IPPNWC) and the Victoria Multifaith Society (VMS).

Buddhist and Sikh Board Seats

VMS has 2 board seats presently open, and welcomes those who would like to suggest a candidate to put forward the recommendation by emailing VictoriaMultifaith@gmail.com, attention Sheila Flood. The board carries out an interview process and looks for those who are active and knowledgeable members of their communities.

Presentations have begun!

VMS has begun the rollout of Promoting Cultural Awareness through the Anti-Racism Toolkit, a year-long project to promote 8 workshops covering a variety of types of racism and prejudice. If you’d like a presentation for your group or organization, please get in touch.

We’re happy to announce that in May we were invited to present to the team of roughly 12 officers belonging to Saanich Police Community Liaison section, and have done two workshops there to date. As the graph shows, police-reported hate crimes are most often to do with race/ethnic group (in blue) and religion (in red), and have been rising in number. The sessions were informative on both sides, as we learned about the Community Liaison officers and the valuable work they perform in schools and around town. The officers were thoughtful, open, sensitive to the issues, and a pleasure to work with.