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.

Anti-Racism Rollout Grant

The Victoria Multifaith Society is pleased to announce that we have recently received approval for a British Columbia Multiculturalism and Anti-Racism Grant for 2023, to assist with the rollout of our Learning Anti-Racism Toolkit in communities across the province.

If you’d like to be involved in the facilitation of these workshops, please let us know at Victoriamultifaith@gmail.com

The Toolkit, which includes workshops, glossary, videos and a facilitator’s guide, can be viewed or downloaded from this website, under the Resources/Anti-Racism tab.

We’ll have more information to share as the project unfolds. The project coordinators for the rollout are Jo Beattie, David Batterham and Sheila Flood.

The VMS board is very grateful to BC Multiculturalism for their support of this project.

World Interfaith Harmony Week

World Religions Conference, 5 Feb. 2023

The 345 participants who attended the World Religions Conference on Sunday, February 5th, comfortably filled the Garry Oak Room of Saanich Commonwealth Centre when the event began at 4 p.m. Displays and food lined the perimeter of the room. Banners, screen and a temporary stage with podium lined the front.

Salaylexw Joan Morris of the Songhees Nation opened with a beautiful prayer and greeting, followed by Mayor Dean Murdoch of Saanich, who gave welcoming remarks. Short welcomes were also offered by several people including May Shihadeh of VMS and Rizwan Peerzada of the Ahmadiyya community, the principal organizers of the event.

The 9 panelists on the stage, along with Moderator Karen Harper of Saanich City Council, were: Wayne Codling (Buddhism); Leslie Flynn (Anglican); Shrikant Shenwai (Hindu); Umran Bhatti (Ahmadiyya Muslim); Lesia Kohut (New Thought); Gian Singh Kotli (Sikh); Dale Ruttan (Latter Day Saints); Shoshana Litman (Jewish); and Gita Badiyan (Bahá’í).

Each of the panelists spoke for 10 minutes on the theme of the timeless question of suffering. Gita spoke about its potential relationship with personal spiritual growth. Leslie gave a “lightning history” of how humanity has looked at suffering over the ages. Umran talked about the path of hope, compassion and mercy, and Gian of happiness, wisdom and honest labour. Dale described the process of atonement, and the connection between suffering, joy and agency. Shoshana told a beautiful story linking “choosing heaven” to choosing to serve others. Shrikant asked, “What is joy?” as the corollary question to the cause of suffering, saying that good begets good. Lesia reiterated the concept of choice, explaining that what we think becomes our life experience as expressions of infinite potentiality. Wayne spoke of the cessation of suffering through the Noble Eightfold Path of right understanding, right intention, right speech, and so on. Moderator Karen Harper remarked on the complementary nature and common threads between all these perspectives.

The East Indian meal, with vegetarian and non-vegetarian choices, lined an entire wall of the room, giving everyone time to mingle at the end and browse the displays. VMS would like to thank Mayor Dean Murdoch, Moderator Karen Harper, the speakers and participants, and especially the Ahmadiyya Muslim community for providing the meal, venue and much of the organization. This was our first year honouring World Interfaith Harmony Week by collaborating together on this event. More photos of the event are here.

World Religions Conference

Coming up on Sunday 5 Feb. 2023, this year’s event in honour of World Interfaith Harmony Week will be a World Religions Conference, to be held at the Saanich Commonwealth Centre in the Garry Oak Room, from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm. The event is our first collaboration with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, which hosts similar conferences across the country each year.

Councillor Karen Harper will moderate a panel of speakers from various religious traditions followed by an East Indian dinner. There is no charge. Register at http://worldreligionsconference.ca/

Speakers will give 10-minute presentations on the theme of the Timeless Question of Suffering, from the perspectives of the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Latter Day Saints, Muslim, New Thought and Sikh traditions. Please see the registration link for more details, including photos and short bios for each speaker.

Our Annual Report in Photos

Henri Lock, David Batterham, Ora Stefanic, Sheila Flood, Bear Sam, John Borrows

Bear Xekinexen Sam, from the Tsartlip First Nation, opened our Annual General Meeting on 13 November with a healing prayer and blessing. VMS Chair Dr John Borrows gave a presentation on Indigenous & Canadian Stories: New Understandings (video here).

Our Annual Report 2022 summarized the year in photos, presented by various members of the board. Current VMS board members as we enter 2023 are:

  • John Borrows – Chair, Indigenous Spirituality
  • Henri Lock – Secretary, Christian seat
  • Ora Stefanic – Treasurer, Jewish seat
  • Lesia Kohut – Unity seat
  • May Shihadeh – Muslim seat
  • Janine Theobald – Buddhist seat
  • Jagir Virk – Sikh seat
  • David Batterham – Bahá’í seat
  • Shrikant Shenwai – Hindu seat
  • Sheila Flood – Executive Director

VMS AGM: Nov. 13, 2022

University of Victoria Multifaith Centre
Dr John Borrows

Our AGM this year will begin with a keynote and short workshop by VMS Chair, Dr. John Borrows, on new understandings and relationships with Indigenous culture and history. To be held at the UVic Multifaith Centre (see link for map) on Sunday 13 November from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. 

A report on VMS activities will also be given, and the confirmation of board members who have been named since our last AGM. Registration at this link is requested. For those who wish to make this a richer experience, please consider doing some research in advance using the resources found below or at this link.

Dr. John Borrowsis the Loveland Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Toronto and is a global leader in Indigenous law. His ideas helped shape the recommendations of both the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. He has led engagement with Indigenous legal traditions in Canada and internationally, bringing to light some of the injustices, inequalities and conditions of Indigenous people. He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and from the Chippewas of the Nawash First Nation.   

Thanks to Hindu community!

One Spirit: Celebrating our Faiths Together

The jointly organized event at the Hindu temple on Saturday, 17 Sept. 2022, One Spirit: Celebrating our Faiths Together, was a wonderful experience – interesting, uplifting and full of happy faces! Around 55 attended (some missing from this photo). See photos here.

As VMS Hindu board member Shrikant Shenwai said in his introduction, it was like the gathering of a beautiful bouquet, there was such beauty and diversity. Elder May Sam offered a blessing, saying it was especially good to see the children, since in Indigenous culture the children are like flowers, and this was a precious addition to the bouquet.

There were artistic, devotional offerings of prayer, song, music, chant, and dance, presented by people from 6 different traditions in turn. A wonderful communal meal followed in the main hall, provided by the Hindu community assisted by multifaith volunteers.

Warm thanks to the Hindu community, MC Lesia Kohut, Shrikant Shenwai, the generous volunteers and all the enthusiastic participants!