Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of B.C. Multiculturalism Act

“This milestone is an excellent opportunity to recognize and celebrate the benefits that come with living in one of the most culturally diverse places in the world,” said Lisa Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “Today, our government reaffirms our commitment to the principles of equality and respect for all British Columbians.”

“It’s important to reach out to each other, learn each other’s stories and histories, and stand together against racism and hate,” said Ravi Kahlon, Parliamentary Secretary for Sport and Multiculturalism. “Tolerance is not good enough. In our beautifully diverse society, we need to strive for equity, acceptance and inclusion for all British Columbians.”

VMS Board members Parminder Virk and Sri Devi Ganti attended the event, held at the Legislature in November.

Change of Officers, VMS Board

The VMS board has appointed new officers at its November meeting, following the 2018 AGM held late October. The new roles are:

Sheila Flood                Chair

Henri Lock                  Recording Secretary

Janine Theobald          Treasurer

Yavhel Valasquez       Corresponding Secretary

Activities for the upcoming year are being planned. If you wish to contact the board for any reason, please email victoriamultifaith@gmail.com

VMS Welcomes Spiritually Speaking and Faith Forum

Those who receive the print edition of the Times Colonist may have noticed the Faith Forum column in the Saturday edition. If you read it online, you may have come across the blog, Spiritually Speaking, found in the right-hand column on the front page of the online paper. Every article that appears in print also appears on the blog, along with extra articles that are published online each week.

We are pleased to announce that, at the request of their moderator, Anna Bowness-Park, these two impressive, well-managed media platforms have now been brought under the wing of the VMS as an activity of this society.

The story of it’s evolution from an idea and a small group of writers can be found here.

Today Spiritually Speaking has 24 writers from different faiths in Victoria and a strong readership base, thanks to Anna’s dedicated work. It is also the only model of its kind in North America, offering readers a fresh way to consider the issues of the day in a spiritual context.



New VMS Board Members

Moussa Magassa, a member of the Sunni Muslim faith community of Victoria, and Yavhel Valazquez of Unity Victoria, are the Victoria Multifaith Society’s newest board members, following our AGM, 28 October, 2018, which was attended by roughly 30 people.

Yavhel is the first to occupy the Non-Affiliated board seat, a seat provided for in the VMS by-laws for a faith not affiliated with any other religion represented on the board.

Ali Hemani, who served as VMS Muslim board member and Chair, stepped down following completion of the 4-year term permitted by VMS by-laws. Christine Johnston, VMS Unitarian member and Treasurer, also stepped down at the AGM; the Unitarian seat remains open at this time. Both Ali and Christine were warmly thanked for their dedication and invaluable hard work as members and board officers over the past several years.

AGM 2018 Photos here, with thanks to Steve Baileys, Jim Flood and Anna Harvey.

Members of the VMS Board currently are:

  1. Henri Locke (Christian seat)
  2. Janine Theobald (Buddhist seat)
  3. Moussa Magassa (Muslim seat)
  4. Parminder Virk (Sikh seat)
  5. Sheila Flood (Bahá’í seat)
  6. Shoshana Litman (Jewish seat)
  7. Sridevi Ganti (Hindu seat)
  8. Yavhel Valazquez (Non-Affiliated seat)

AGM 28 October 2018

“Human Rights from a Faith Perspective”

All are invited to come and enjoy this year’s annual gathering, from 2 to 4:30 pm on Sunday Oct 28th, which will include a keynote address (see below), election and introduction of 2 new board members, a review of the main events and partnerships of the past year, questions, refreshments and socializing.

Our keynote speaker for this year’s AGM is Moussa Magassa, who has been nominated for the Muslim seat of the Victoria Multifaith Society.

Moussa Magassa is the Human Rights Education Advisor for the Dept. of Equity and Human Rights at UVic. His areas of interest include human rights education, global and transformational leadership, ethics and social justice activism, social transformation and peacebuilding, and immigration and refugee studies. Magassa is a PhD candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at UVic. He holds an M.A in Human Security and Peacebuilding from Royal Roads University in Victoria, and a BA (Hons) in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies from the Kwazulu-Natal University, South Africa.

The AGM will be held from 2:00 to 4:30 p.m., Sunday, 28 October, at the Ismaili Jamatkhana, 1250 Esquimalt Rd., Victoria. There is no charge. VMS membership can be renewed at the AGM or at any other event, at $10 per year for an individual member, or $50 per year for an organization or faith group.

Colour and music reigned!

 Thanks to everyone who contributed to the annual multi-faith arts devotional, held on 29 September, it was again a great success. One Spirit: Celebrating our Faiths Together, a collaborative event with the Hindu temple, was full of colour and music, with about 100 people of all ages and backgrounds attending.

Special thanks to the musicians, singers and the volunteers from the temple who prepared the delicious meal!

Responding to the Refugee Crisis

VMS was happy to support the Refugee information meeting put on by the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria on 21 July 2018 at Cadboro Bay United Church, to encourage sponsorship of BVOR refugees. Aviva Basman of the UN Refugee Agency gave an excellent overview, followed by former refugee and TED-x speaker Mohammed Alsaleh, as well as two members of local sponsorship groups.

The meeting attracted almost 90 people, with several people immediately offering to form a sponsorship group for a family of five with only days left on the BVOR list. It’s hoped that further groups will also form as a result of the meeting.

If you weren’t able to attend or didn’t fill out the survey when there, please contact Sabine Lehr of ICA at slehr@icavictoria.org for more information or to join a sponsorship group. If you attended and filled out the survey, Sabine will be in contact with you.

All BVOR refugees are at least partially funded and travel ready, i.e. they should arrive 6 to 12 weeks after the arrangements are completed. To meet Canada’s goals and take advantage of the funding offered by the federal government, many more sponsorship groups are needed. These groups welcome refugees, find accommodations and oversee various aspects of integration into the community during their first year of residence in Victoria.

A big round of thanks to all the volunteers who helped make the meeting happen! You’ll find links here to a short video of the talk given by Mohammed Alsaleh on 21 July, and to the CHEK news report of the event.

World Partnership Walk and Asian Heritage Festival

The Victoria Multifaith Society is once again supporting this effort to build a more peaceful, prosperous and equal world for all. The money raised will support AKFC programs in Africa and Asia, enabling families and communities to lift themselves out of poverty through access to quality education, life-saving health services, food security and improved livelihoods.

VMS is encouraging members of all faith communities in Victoria to:

Join the VMS Teammeeting at McPherson Library front entrance at 10:30 a.m. 

Help raise funds & awareness for this great cause! Contributions can be made online.


Registration starts at 9:30am; Opening ceremonies at 10:30am;

Asian Heritage Celebrations & Food Bazaar at 12:00pm

Courtyard, McPherson Library, University of Victoria (free parking Sundays – map here)


The World Partnership Walk is an initiative of Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) and Canada’s largest movement dedicated to raising funds and increasing awareness to fight global poverty.

We would greatly appreciate your support. Every contribution matters and every dollar raised will help make a difference!

Click here to view the Team page for Victoria Multifaith Society

WIHW 2018 Report & Photos

Event video**

The collaborative VMS/MFS event in honour of UN World Interfaith Harmony Week, Creating Our Future: Visioning a Sustainable Compassionate World , was held 4 February, with over 150 attending. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps opened the afternoon with enthusiasm for genuine civic discourse and warm encouragement for interfaith harmony.  MC Paul Bramadat, Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, echoed these sentiments in remarks regarding the need for positive dialogue about the kind of future we all want. Dr. Bramadat also expressed a valuable historical perspective, noting the way interfaith dialogue has moved beyond educating each other to actually increasing our interconnectedness.

Professional storyteller Shoshana Litman included the audience in her beautifully enacted story about a “Balagan” – a big mess – an apt analogy for our present times! First Nations speaker Tiffany Joseph, young and passionate about her heritage, won hearts with her story of surpassing boundaries.  Several of the speakers wove their personal stories into their moving responses regarding the needs of the future.

VMS and co-sponsor UVic Multifaith Services are very grateful for the time and effort all made for this event – Tiffany of the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) cultures, Rabbi Louis Sutker of Congregation Emanu-El,  Imam Ismail Nur of the Sunni Muslim community, Gita Badiyan of the Bahá’í community, Wayne Codling of the Soto Zen lineage, Unitarian minister and MFS chaplain Rev. Shana Lynngood, Lutheran Aneeta Saroop who graciously agreed on short notice to replace a panelist forced to cancel, and VMS board member Parminder Virk. In Shoshana’s words, Kol hakavod (all the honour) to everyone involved!

Special thanks as well to Sabine Lehr of the Inter-Cultural Association (ICA) who spoke of present refugee needs in Victoria, the SingYourJoy Young Adult Chorus whose voices raised everyone’s spirits, and all our wonderful volunteers in IT, displays, greeting, set up/take down and those who made and served the much appreciated refreshments. It was a huge team effort! Many, many thanks to all!

Thanks too, to Steve Baileys of ICA for this WIHW 2018 photo album! Great work!

** Thanks to Paulo Travassos for his work in recording and editing the event video.

Apologies to viewers that the video is missing the story told by Shoshana Litman. Permission was given by the story’s author for narration but wasn’t extended to video rights.