One Spirit – 2019

The annual multifaith arts devotional, 21 September 2019, hosted by the Hindu Parishad and Cultural Centre and co-sponsored by VMS, was again a fantastic success: full to the brim and then some! The colour, warmth and hospitality of the Hindu community shone through the space. Spirits were high as presenters from a multitude of traditions all sang praises in many forms, languages and voices to the one God, as MC Sri Ganti noted.

Nicole Mandryk

Led by Sudhakar Ganti, the sacred sound of Om filled the room to open the evening. First Nations presenter Nicole Mandryk told a magnificent story of northern resident killer whales, with song, drum and dancers. Fiona Stuart of the Jewish community involved the whole audience with the song Hallelu.Tahirih Nasseri, a young Bahá’í, presented the song “Find Me”, based on the writings of Bahá’u’lláh. Rev. Karen Verveda, Diego Barrientos and Kathryn Lacerte of the United Church led the audience in two selections, one in the Taize tradition. People continued to pour in, sitting on the floor, or on seats that instantly showed up when needed.

Fiona Stuart

Tâm (Phil Rossner), presented The Boddisattva of Compassion, with audience assistance. VMS board member Yavhel Valasquez sang a moving song compilation called The River. Vinod Bhardwaj and Anil Kapoor, accompanied by Suresh Basrur, sang and drummed Sikh, Hindu and Muslim songs. Several participants spontaneously offered songs and prayers, one a small Jain girl who recited the names of the 24 tirthankaras without hesitation.

The delicious southeast Asian meal was prepared by several families, also a multifaith effort from preparation to clean up, with many men and women in the kitchen. Over 100 people were served, all through the generosity of volunteers who worked hard, with enthusiasm and joy, to provide this great community-building event.

A huge thank you to all who contributed to the evening in every capacity, particularly the presenters. This link to the photos tells the story in full colour!

Starfields! 9 October 2019 Fundraiser Concert for VMS

Come and bring friends to the upcoming Starfields Concert featuring The Small Glories on the evening of Wednesday 9 October! Starfields is a powerful grassroots festival reflecting diversity and inclusiveness in its music and events. It is committed to bringing people of all faiths and no faith together, building community through music.

Tickets are $20 available online at Eventbrite, as well as Munro’s, Ivy’s, and at the door. Further information at Eventbrite and on Facebook.

This year, the concert will serve as a fundraiser for the Victoria Multifaith Society. Almost all VMS events are offered free of charge and we would like to maintain this ability to provide services to the community. Special thanks go to Starfield’s artistic director, Jo Beattie, and to Holy Cross Parish, which is providing the venue for the concert and assisting with refreshments.

One Spirit: Celebrating all our faiths through the arts

This annual event at the Hindu Temple is a favourite! Join us for a multi-faith arts-based devotional from a variety of traditions, featuring many beautiful forms and styles of singing, chanting, and instrumentals, followed by a Southeast Asian meal.

It will take place 6:30 p.m., Saturday, 21 September, 2019, at 1934 Cultra Avenue, Saanichton.

The evening is a collaborative effort of the Hindu Prashad and Cultural Centre and the Victoria Multifaith Society, presented free of charge as a service to the greater community.

Please wear comfortable clothing since the majority of people will be seated on the floor; footwear is removed just inside the door.

VMS Board member for Indigenous Spirituality

The board of the Victoria Multifaith Society very happy to welcome Dr. John Borrows as its newest member, in the seat of Indigenous Spirituality. Dr. Borrows is the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law in the Faculty of Law at the University of Victoria 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. His scholarship has been cited by the Supreme Court of Canada.

Starfields Festival

It’s been a year this month since the Starfields Festival! VMS is delighted to support this multifaith musical endeavor that speaks to hope, spirituality and unity in diversity. Very much looking forward to an upcoming Festival, now in the planning stages. Please contact us if you’d like to volunteer.

An evening concert
Minutes before the opening of the 2018 Festival…
Artistic Director Jo Beattie, far right.

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 victoriamultifaith@gmail.com