Toronto to host 7th World Parliament of Religions, Nov 1-7, 2018

Toronto to host 7th World Parliament of Religions,  Nov 1-7, 2018

Photo : Paras Ramoutar

Port-of-Spain: “The Promise of Inclusion. The Power of Love… Pursuing Global Understanding, Reconciliation and Change” is the theme for the 2018 World Parliament of Religions.  Special guest is His Holiness the 19th Gyalwang Karmaga , Spiritual Head of the Karma Kogyn School of Tibetan Buddhism, among several other notable spiritual leaders and thinkers and philosophers,especially from India including Satguru Jaggi Vasudev, Swami Chidananda Saraswati,and  Swami Ramdev

And some 10,000 participants from across the globe will assemble at Toronto’s Convention Centre, Nov. 1-7, 2018 for the 7th World Parliament of Religions, according to Trinidad-born Suraj Persad, one of the co-ordinators.

Pandit Persad, Hindu Chaplin and Minister, Hindu Campus Ministry Multi-Faith Centre for Spiritual Study and Practice is highly involved in planning the Task Force on, “Sacred Space” with specific mandate to create Religious Spaces for Rituals. He said that emphasis will be placed on the creation of two specific rooms, one for Puja and the other for Aboriginal (First Nations) worship.

The vast array of participants will feature more than 500 programs , workshops, conferences, internationally-recognized speakers in several fields of human endeavor, dialogues, in addition to music, dance, art, photography exhibitions all presentations by the world’s religious communities, cultural, religious and social institutions, and distinguished  individuals.

According to Professor Mark Toulouse, co-chair of the Host Committee, the selection of Toronto was, “a perfect match for the Parliament”. He continues: As one of the most international, multicultural and religiously pluralistic cities in the world, Toronto provides a perfect venue or the Parliament of the World’s Religions as more than 140 languages are spoken every day, and at least 47 per cent of Toronto’s population speak a native language other than French or English. Over half were born outside Canada, representing more than 200 ethnic origins.”

Toronto’s Mayor John Tory fully supports the assembly.  “Nowhere is our diversity more evident than in the variety of places you can find in communities in Toronto. These institutions are an integral part of the social fabric of our city…our faith communities help build bridges of mutual understanding and make Toronto a welcoming place for people of all beliefs.

He added, “more than a symbol, the Parliament is an instrument of peace. This is why the Parliament of the World’s Religions will be converging on Toronto in 2018.”

Since the historic 1893 World’s Parliament in Chicago, modern Parliaments have attracted participants from more than 200 diverse religious, indigenous and secular beliefs and more than 80 nations to its international gatherings in Chicago  in 1993, Cape Town 1999, Barcelona 2004, Melbourne 2009, and Salt Lake City 2015.

These Parliament events are the world’s oldest, largest and most inclusive gatherings of the global interfaith movement, according to Prof. Toulhouse, and he believes that the selection of Toronto was a perfect match for the Parliament.

Prof. Toulhouse concurs: “In our times, few things are more important than developing global literacy concerning religion and initiatives seeking social justice, partnerships and dialogue among religions, and understanding between the religious and non-religious. The content and global relationships associated with the Parliament advances all these ends in significant ways. For me it is especially exciting to welcome the Parliament to Toronto as it celebrates its 125th anniversary.”

At an earlier press conference, the World’s Religion Executive Director, Dr Larry Greenfield said that 2018 event is an “extraordinary opportunity for people of the globe to engage the crucial issues of our world in climate change, poverty and violence.”

Dr. Greenfield noted that they are especially encouraged by the indigenous, women and young people who will be featured among the international leaders coming from around the world.

Among the international speakers are: Ms. Christiana Figueres, Convenor of Mission 2020, and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; Payam Akhavan, a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at  the Hague, and he is a McGill Professor of International Law. Subhi Nahas, is a survivor refugee of the Syrian Civil War,  Habiba Dahir is a Nairobi-based Program Officer for Women In International Security, Horn of Africa, and she is driven by her passion to promote the increased participation of women in the peace process.; and Armene Modi, a Gender Champion noted for her Intervention Programs serving adolescent girls in rural villages in Pune, India.