Speaker Profiles (35th WRC)

Following is a line up distinguished speakers and scholars chosen to represent different faiths & philosophies at the upcoming 35th World Religions Conference on Sunday, November 1, 2015 at the River Run Centre. The theme for this year's event is "Tackling Radicalization in Faiths"

Presided and Moderated by

Craig Norris (Radio Host)

Craig Norris currently hosts the highly-rated CBC Radio 1 shows, The Morning Edition and In The Key of C. His 15-year broadcasting career began at CTV where he co-hosted The Chatroom, and was a music reporter for etalk! At CBC, he's also hosted The Craig Norris Hour, The R330, Laugh Out Loud!, CBC Radio 2 Drive, As It Happens and critically-acclaimed current affairs show, Know Your Rights.

Representing Humanism (Atheists and Agnostics)

Doug Thomas - Elmira

An extensive writer, Doug is a life-long agnostic and an active Secular Humanist since 2002. As Past President of The Society of Ontario Freethinkers, and President of Secular Connexion Séculière, he advocates consistently for humanist rights and separation of church and state. He also works advocates for the inclusion and equitable treatment of atheist students in local schools. In 2013, he was nominated, for the J.S. Woodsworth Award for Human Rights and Equity.

Representing Sikhism
Simerneet Singh - Chicago (USA)

Brilliant Orator. Born and raised in Chicago, Simer studied and learned the practical and spiritual applications of Sat Sri Guru Granth Sahib under Sikh elders through the practice of meditation, known as Simran. Travels extensively throughout North America teaching English-speaking audiences (both Sikh and non-Sikhs), about Simran through the teachings in Sat Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Works full-time as President of Jojo Modern Pets, an ecommerce and manufacturing company.

Representing Islam
Imam Farhan Iqbal - Toronto

Articulate and powerful. Farhan is the Imam of Bai'tul Islam, one of the largest Mosques in Canada. Graduated in Islamic Theology and Comparative Religions (2010) from the Ahmadiyya Institute of Islamic studies. Served as Missionary of Islam in USA and Ghana. Represented Islam in various interfaith events in Canada. Routinely hosts a live phone-in Islamic radio program, as well as hosted programs on Muslim Television Ahmadiyya International.

Representing Christianity
Rev. John Buttars – Guelph

Cultured Raconteur. Minister (retired) of Harcourt United Church in Guelph with an academic background in history and theology as well as hospital chaplaincy. John served for over 30 years as a Minister where he sought to deepen spiritual and communal life within Harcourt and social justice in the wider community. After semiretirement since 2006, he continues along the same focus. His immediate family traces ancestry to Europe and India.

Representing Aboriginals
Walter Cooke - Hamilton

Inspiring Speaker. Walter, an Elder/Counsellor, Ojibway-Cree of the Bear Clan. He works for De dwa da dehs nyes Aboriginal Health Centre in Hamilton, Ontario. Has been doing traditional healing work for over 25 years. His teachings come from listening to elders and in large, from his own way of life and that of his parents. Facilitates a Healing Journey Program at the Aboriginal Health Centre. Addressed numerous interfaith events.

Representing Judaism
Dr. Daniel Maoz – Cambridge

Engaging speaker and Jewish scholar. Daniel is member of both Orthodox and Reform Jewish communities in Kitchener-Waterloo. Scholar-in- Residence at Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, Wilfrid Laurier University and a Research Associate for Concordia University, Montreal. Holds a Ph.D. from France and M.A. in History. Widely published and internationally presents his research in Jewish Studies.

Representing Hinduism
Dr. Praveen Saxena – Guelph

Brilliant Presenter. Professor at the University of Guelph and the director of the Gosling Research Institute for Plant Preservation, which specializes in saving endangered plant species from extinction. Praveen also researches interconnections among nature, science and spirituality. As the Hindu representative of the Multi-Faith Resource Team of the University of Guelph and the Hindu Society of Guelph, he organizes interactive discussions on the philosophy and science of Hinduism.


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