Speaker Profiles (34th WRC)

Following is a line up distinguished speakers and scholars chosen to represent different faiths & philosophies at the upcoming 34th World Religions Conference on Sunday, September 28, 2014 at the River Run Centre. The event will be moderated by Abigail Bimman and theme for this year's event is "Pathway to Peace"

Presided and Moderated by

Presided and Moderated by
Abigail Bimman
TV Anchor & Journalist

As a videographer with CTV Kitchener, Abigail shoots and reports a wide range of stories for viewers across Southwestern Ontario. On weekends, she produces and anchors local newscasts. Her journalism has been recognized with awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists and RTDNA. Before joining CTV Kitchener, Abigail worked at Studio 12 News (Oshawa), Rogers TV, CTV Ottawa and CTV News Channel.


Representing Islam
Muhammad Afzal Mirza - Toronto

Prolific speaker and a learned scholar of world religions. Takes keen interest in youth welfare. Regularly hosts a live phone-in radio program explaining contemporary Islamic issues. Graduated from the Ahmadiyya Islamic University in 1976. Worked as an Islamic Missionary in various cities in Pakistan, USA and now in Canada. Former Vice President of the Institute of Islamic Studies in Toronto. Presented at numerous interfaith forums throughout Canada.


Representing Humanism (Atheists and Agnostics)
Karis Burkowski - Waterloo

Sacred Secular Sanctuary president, and World Pantheist Movement board member, Karis is an atheist, embracing Secular Humanism and Scientific Pantheism (reverence for the Universe and Nature). Karis has celebrated with devotees in synagogues, cathedrals, temples, mosques and gurdwaras around the world. A member of Interfaith Grand River since 2001, she understands the only acceptable spiritual path to be evidence-based, rational, empowering, and - essential in our multifaith world – tolerant.


Representing Hinduism
Swami Chaitanya Jyoti- Kitchener

Disciple of H.H. Brahmrishi Shri Vishvatma Bawra Ji Maharaj, Chaitanya Jyoti is graduated in M.A. and M.Ed. and has been a lecturer at the Punjab Agriculture University, India. Now vice president of International Brahmrishi Mission and head preacher at Brahmarishi Mission of Canada. Received the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal Award, 14 November 1012, for outstanding and selfless dedicated service to the community and to Canada for over 30 years.


Representing Christianity
Rev. John Lawson - Guelph

John is a minister in the United Church of Canada currently serving in Guelph. Before theological studies in Princeton, New Jersey he studied International History at Western and London School of Economics. John is passionate about the spiritual connection with the environment, was a candidate for the Green Party in Guelph during the last federal election and is involved in multi-faith dialogue in the Guelph community.


Representing Buddhism
Dr. Christopher Ross - Waterloo

Psychologist, Dr. Ross provides psychotherapy spiritually-informed by world wisdom traditions. An Associate Professor at Wilfrid Laurier. Recent publications: "Buddhism, Healing and Pastoral Care" in Psychotherapy: Cure of the Soul, and "Typewise: Using Jung's Theory of Psychological Types in Teaching Religious Studies". Current teaching: "Therapeutic and religious responses to grief loss and death", "Spirituality in the human life cycle", "Religious experience", and "Buddhism, psychotherapy and western psychology".


Representing Judaism
Rabbi Michael Dolgin - Toronto

Senior Rabbi of Temple Sinai Congregation of Toronto and Past President of both the Toronto Board of Rabbis and the Reform Rabbis of Greater Toronto. Ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1992 and is proud to have served Temple Sinai during the last 22 years. His congregational rabbinate has focused on the creation of new liturgy and meeting the challenges of Jewish life through study, prayer, and learning.


Representing Aboriginals
Rick Rogers - Toronto

A member of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation, Bear Clan, with tribal affiliations of the Chippewa/ Pottawatomi Nations. For several years in Ontario, Rick has been involved with Aboriginal organizations as well as non-aboriginal educators and organizations including Concerns Canada, Univ of Toronto, Toronto Board of Education, Correctional Services and various social service groups. Rick's strongly feels a need to make people aware of Aboriginal lifestyles.


Representing Sikhism
Jagmeet Singh - Toronto

MPP Singh was re-elected in Bramalea-Gore-Malton during the 2014 provincial election. Jagmeet presented a bill in the Legislature, calling for the month of April to be recognized as Sikh Heritage Month which received royal assent. Mr. Singh was listed as one of Toronto Star’s Top 12 people, named as Ontario’s 75 most powerful people and featured as Toronto’s 50 Most Influential People as one of the 5 youngest rising stars.


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