Message of Solidarity

Following the horrific attack on those in the Muslim community gathered for prayer on Friday at the Christchurch NZ mosque, a vigil was organized by a young Victorian for that same afternoon. It was a poignant reminder of our essential unity, as diverse people gathered together to light candles, speak out, and comfort each other. Its beauty was in strong contrast to the ugliness of the event that inspired it.

A letter from VMS was sent to the Masjid Al-Iman on Quadra St. and the Ismaili Jamatkhana in Esquimalt, on behalf of all our faith communities, expressing sympathy and solidarity.

The Victoria Multifaith Society would also like to extend warm greetings to the Ismaili Muslim community and the Bahá’í community, who are soon celebrating Navroz / Naw-Ruz, on 21 March, the first day of Spring. This marks the beginning of the new year 1398 and 176 in those respective calendars.

May we all reach out to one another and work together to make it a peaceful and inclusive new year.

World Interfaith Harmony 2019

The Interfaith Chapel at University of Victoria hosted a full house (and then some!) on 6 February, 2019, for our “Let’s Talk Through Diversity” event, honouring World Interfaith Harmony Week. The program was much different from those of previous years, with many diverse and participatory activities, all set in the smaller and more intimate venue of the UVic Interfaith Chapel.

Discussion groups, “Let’s Talk Through Diversity”, UVic Interfaith Chapel

The versatility of the setting was used to encourage meaningful dialogue between participants through activities such as small discussion groups, a sit-down meal, the ice-breaker Diversity Bingo game, and henna hand-painting.

Students played a key part in the event, both in the planning and in the student panel and facilitation of discussion groups, as well as the hands-on work of set up, serving the meal, and a hundred other tasks that were swiftly and competently executed.

Steve Baileys of ICA is thanked for the many beautiful photos of the event

And Jim Flood for the video of the keynote speech by Dr. John Borrows.

Thanks also to our co-collaborators in this event: University of Victoria’s Multifaith Services, its Department of Equity and Human Rights, and the Community Partnership Network of the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria, who all contributed funds and human resources.

Let’s Talk! Through Diversity

On Wednesday, 6 February, 2019, VMS will be honouring World Interfaith Harmony Week, by hosting the “Let’s Talk Through Diversity” event in collaboration with UVic Multifaith Services, the Community Partnership Network of ICA, and UVic Equity and Human Rights.

The week is observed annually by the UN from February 1 – 7.  VMS has been celebrating it for several years with a large weekend event featuring a multifaith panel, refreshments and displays. This year we’ve changed to mid-week, gearing the event towards young people and students through a more intimate and interactive program, to include:

  • Keynote speaker Dr. John Borrows, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria and a global leader in Indigenous law. Dr. Borrows will speak on “What has the process of Reconciliation taught us about talking to one another & creating harmony?”
  • East Indian meal with small group discussions: “What’s been learned?”
  • Student Panel from five different faith traditions speaking on “What from my spiritual tradition helps us talk through diversity?”
  • Facilitated global café style discussion groups
  • Interactive activities: Turban How-To’s, Headscarf Helpers, and Henna Hand-painting!

The event will be held at the UVic Interfaith Chapel, located at the entrance to Finnerty Gardens, from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Wed. 6 Feb. 2019. Paid parking is available at Parking Lot 6 (SW corner of campus, near Phoenix Theatre & Fine Arts building). Map and transportation information.

Free tickets are available through our Eventbrite link, with a limit of 60 due to space limitations.

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

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!