This fall, Edmontonians of all backgrounds will come together to reflect on and celebrate peace during the city’s first ever YEG Peace Fest. With the aim of fostering a city-wide promotion of peace, unity and human rights, this festival hosted by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights and the Mahatma Gandhi Canadian Foundation for World Peace will run from September 21 to October 2, commemorating the International Day of Peace, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday and the International Day of Non-Violence. The Edmonton Interfaith Centre will hold our annual peace flag – raising at noon outside city hall on Monday September 21st, with speakers and music.
From the Letter of support for the City of Edmonton, written in Oct. 2013, and re-sent in July 2014 as the City of Edmonton faces discrimination charges.
The Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action would like to applaud the City of Edmonton for removing the ETS bus ads which target the Muslim community (see Edmonton Journal October 29). Tragically, gender-based violence exists, world-wide, in all communities, regardless of ethnicity, religion, culture or socio-economic status. We are proud to work with many local cultural and faith-based organizations which have faced up to this reality and are working very hard to combat it. But to target any one religion is destructive and unhelpful. The ads were placed by SIOA (Stop Islamization of America), a well-known and controversial group who are considered to be extremely Islamophobic. Sadly they, and some others, are misconstruing the removal of the ads as a capitulation to either political correctness or pressure from Muslims, rather than because their discriminatory nature makes them unacceptable.
From the board of the Edmonton Interfaith Centre
“Faiths Coming Together through Compassion, Awareness & Justice” is a three-day multifaith event being hosted by the Edmonton Interfaith Centre and the Edmonton Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions May 1 – 4 on the U of A campus. The brochure highlights our two keynote speakers and hints at the exciting line-up of workshops planned for the event.
Thanks! Netta for the and the Edmonton Committee for a Parliament of the World’s Religions (ECPWR)
On Sunday, February 9 at 3 p.m. in the Royal Alberta Museum, 12845 – 102 Avenue, the Edmonton Interfaith Centre presents “Building Bridges Among Faith Traditions” an afternoon of inspirational music, prayers and chants from our diverse communities. Artists include Anna Beaumont, Andrew Glover, Karim Gillani Sufi Ensemble, Soka Gakkai Buddhist chant and Debbi Spence. We will be honouring this year’s winners of the Edmonton Interfaith Advocate Awards, Avau Fast and Amarjeet Sohi, and there will be a silent auction, door prizes and refreshments.
Tickets are $25, $20 for members, seniors and students, call 780-413-6159 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for tickets.
with Carol Rose
Sunday, December 8
2:00 – 4:00 p.m. here in the Assembly Hall of Garneau United Church
11148 – 84 Avenue
In this workshop, Carol will facilitate a psycho-spiritual technique using biblical, liturgical and kabalistic images for healing, creativity and spiritual growth.
No previous knowledge or experience required.
Carol Rose is a writer, poet, educator and counselor.
She holds an MA in Theology and degrees in Religious Studies and Education. Carol teaches imagery classes and
uses imagery in her counseling.
Cost of the workshop: $20,
members & seniors $15
RSVP at email@example.com or call Netta at 780-413-6159
On Saturday evening, August 31 a rabbi, a Catholic priest and an imam walked into Beth Shalom Synagogue in Edmonton. With them were an Aboriginal elder, a Jain, and 65 guests there to hear about “Repentance and Forgiveness from Religious Perspectives”. On that evening Jews around the world began their preparations for New Year (Rosh Hashana) which begins Wednesday evening, September 4, and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), with penitential prayers known as Selichot. The new rabbi at Beth Shalom, Kliel Rose, working with the Edmonton Interfaith Centre and Elexis Schloss, invited representatives from four other faith traditions to discuss this important issue.
The service began with the late afternoon Sabbath prayers, followed by the speakers. First was Dr. Usama Al Atar, a professor of chemistry from the University of Alberta. He stressed five stages of repentance celebrated during the month of Ramadan: regret for your misdeeds, personal commitment to reform, repair of the damage done, reaching out to other people affected by your action, restoring your relationship to God to regain a life of restored peace and justice. He reminded us that the Prophet Mohammad, when he conquered Mecca, forgave the citizens for their bitter warfare against the followers of the new faith of Islam.
Elder Betty Lafferty is an Aboriginal consultant with Edmonton Catholic Schools. She said that the Cree language doesn’t have a word for “forgiveness” but practices personal fasting to restore inner peace and renewed relationship with everyone. As a child she was afraid of the Christian God, but her aboriginal faith restored her inner spirituality and communion with God and with all those around her. For her, working with children is a spiritual experience.
Jitendra Shah, one of the founders of the first Jain temple in Edmonton, reminded us that Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Their leaders, or Gurus, have long led the movement for non-violence, brought to a climax by Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent fight for independence from Britain. He told the story of the blind men describing an elephant by feeling different parts of the body, and of course coming to widely different conclusions. Differences are essential to life, but they can also reveal common themes or issues that bind us together. He urged time for daily meditation that restores our inner selves and brings us to the peace of nirvana.
The fourth speaker was Father James Holland from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Edmonton which has a large congregation of Aboriginal people. He emphasized that although there are many religions, they all share an inner spirituality. He believes that holding grudges is self destructive, and that forgiveness frees oneself to live fully. He felt he had learned a great deal from his association with his Aboriginal congregants.
The last speaker was Rabbi Rose. He sees elements of the Judaism in all religions that experience one God within us. For him, sinning is missing the mark of a good life, and forgiveness is essential to restoring it. A Jewish member of the audience remarked on three essentials for forgiveness: recognition of what you did that was wrong, true repentance for it, and forthright reparation to all who were affected by it.
The differing practices of all speakers actually highlighted the common recognition of the essential need to forgive in order to restore your own life, and that holding grudges of any kind was self-destructive. It seems that for many of us it is very difficult to forget anyone or anything that hurts us, but how often we forget the many good things that we daily experience from those around us.
The evening ended with Rabbi Rose celebrating Havdalah, the service which formally ends the Sabbath, and immediately after he recited the Selichot.
John G. Wright & Netta Phillet
On Monday October 6 at noon our speaker for Lunch & Learn will be Lee Thompson, talking about Diverse Pagan Pathways in the Edmonton Area”.
The meetings are here at 11148 – 84 Avenue, entrance is through the back door in the lane across from Tim Horton’s. There is some parking along our building.
Bring your lunch if you like, drinks provided, $2.00 donation gratefully accepted.
Offerings: Edmonton interfaith group condemns violence done in the name of religion
A Buddhist monk meditates during a moment of silence near the finish line of the Boston Marathon bombings on the one-week anniversary of the bombings on April 22.
Photograph by: Kevork Djansezian , Getty Images, files
EDMONTON – Violence in the name of religion — where does it come from? Not from the teachings of the religions themselves.
In the wake of the tragic events in Boston, the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action wants to affirm the inherent value of all human beings, and to condemn the perpetration of violence in the name of religion. As directors and staff of the centre, we state emphatically that no religion promotes violence of any kind. The terrorist acts and threats of the past weeks are not condoned by any religions.
Those who indulge in terrorism are acting according to their own misguided personal ideologies and misinterpretations, and for their own agendas.
Edmonton Interfaith Centre membership includes more than a dozen different faith traditions, and many denominations within those faiths, including Baha’is, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Zoroastrians, Jains, Unitarians, Buddhists, Swedenborgians and followers of Eckankar.
The centre, established in 1995, is dedicated to building understanding and respect for the diverse religious traditions that make up the fabric of life in Edmonton.
Religious or cultural profiling is not helpful. No one would think of blaming the designers and manufacturers of a particular type of car when the actions of a distracted or drunk driver of that vehicle caused the deaths of innocent people.
Nor should any religious tradition be judged because of those who misuse religion as an excuse to act in violence.
Religions teach us that violence is not the answer — to anything. We share words like salaam, shalom, shanti, pax — all of which mean peace. This unites us all as diverse parts of a single humanity, each of us created in the image, or containing an aspect of the divine.
Traditions like the Golden Rule — “Love your neighbour as yourself” — express our reciprocal responsibility for each other, as taught in all of our traditions. It is a perversion of our traditions and all that they contain when they are used as excuses for violence.
Reflecting on the Boston tragedy, and the threats indicated by the arrests of suspected terrorists in Toronto and Montreal, what can we, as a diverse and caring community, do?
How can we overcome stereotypes and suspicion? How can we counteract the fear that is raised by these events and accentuated in media coverage?
We suggest the following:
1. Learn more: explore your own faith tradition more thoroughly to see what is (and is not) an authentic expression of that spiritual path.
2. Get to know our neighbours, participate with them in the projects (such as the Interfaith Habitat for Humanity Build) that celebrate the human spirit and our compassion and caring for others.
3. Work with our young people to ensure that their natural spiritual hunger is met with authentic and meaningful moral purpose and sense of values.
4. Pray: In community and at a personal level. Pray for wholeness and peace, for the victims of intentional violence wherever it occurs, and for the courage to live as our best selves in whichever tradition we are found.
Meanwhile, those of us at the Interfaith Centre will continue to plan future events to build interfaith understandings, to explore topics such as the radicalization of alienated youth and responses to terrorism, and to acknowledge the rich diversity of faith, caring and compassion that is to be found in Edmonton and area.
As an organization, we remain committed to understanding and celebrating our unique faith perspectives, and to share our best practices with communities around the world. We will continue to plant seeds of hope and positive pro-activity through education and events of a multi-faith nature.
For more information, go to edminterfaith.ca or call 780-413-6159.
Interfaith Centre board and staff: Jagjeet Bhardwaj, Rev. Audrey Brooks, Avau Fast, Rev. David Fekete, Karen Gall, Len Gierach, Dr. Julien Hammond, Rev. Dr. Rob Hankinson, Rabbi Carmit Harari, Shervin Hemmati, Pat Holt, Dr. David Hubert, Dr. Zohra Husaini, Shiraz Kanji, Nasim Kherani, Rabbi David Kunin, Rev. Dr. Don Mayne, Jas Panesar, Netta Phillet, Kathie Reith, Guruma Bodhi Sakyadhita and Rev. Rick Van Manen
On Monday June 10 at noon, our speakers will be Rev. Dr. Bruce Miller and John Wright, recently returned from the Jesus Seminar. The Seminar is a gathering of theological scholars who share their perceptions of religion apart from any particular denomination, but do not interpret their findings for any one. Their title is, “From Jesus to Constantine,” or perhaps “Christianity: from Jewish Groups to Roman Religion”. Their focus will be on the period when Christianity emerged as a separate religion from Judaism. Scholars seem to be pushing the date of the separation later and later, and John, the author of the Book of Revelation, writing near the end of the first century does not see himself as a Christian, but a zealous Jew convinced that Jesus is the anointed one.
Entrance is through the back door in the lane across from Tim Horton’s, bring your lunch if you like, drinks provided, $2.00 donation gratefully accepted.
On Sunday February 10 we held our third annual multifaith concert featuring music, dance and chants from different traditions around the world. Our 2013 volunteer awards, nicknamed IFFY’s by Mayor Mandel, were given to Sofia Yaqub and Rabbi David Kunin. Popular young singer/songwriter Sean Sonego was the Master of Ceremonies, other entertainment was provided by the Balada Romanian Dance Ensemble, the Prince Charles Guitar & Fiddle Group, Nepalese Folk Dancers and the Willan Chorale. The stirring sound of the conch shell being blown opened the proceedings, Buddhist Compassion Chants raised us to an awakened consciousness,and prayers from the Eckankar and Baha’i traditions were included. Prizes were given to three young winners in our art contest.
The silent auction was also very lively, and we thank everyone whose attendance, advertisements, donations of items and sponsorships in honour of our award recipients, all added up to make this our most successful fund raiser yet.