Speaker Profiles (40th WRC)

Following is a line up of distinguished speakers and scholars chosen to represent different faiths & philosophies at the 40th World Religions Conference on Sunday, October 17, 2021.

The event will be held in-Person for speakers and essential staff at the WRC-Studio location at Bai'tul Kareem Mosque Cambridge. The entire conference will be streamed live at this website's homepage with live virtual participation of audience in the QA session.

The theme for this year's event is "Combating Racism". 



Dr. Scott Hamilton - Cambridge


A frequent public event moderator, Dr. Hamilton is a councillor at the City of Cambridge. Holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Oxford (UK) and a PhD from the London School of Economics (LSE) (UK). Recipient of Canada’s country’s top postdoctoral award,  'The Banting Fellowship', he is also working as a Research Coordinator in political science at the Balsillie School of International Affairs. 


Subject Expert on Racism

Dr. Edwin W. D. Laryea - Waterloo


Wonderful speaker and an accomplished educator. Dr. Laryea is an anti-racist researcher, with a passion for equal representation and the creation of safe and welcoming places for all. Holds a PhD in education and a Diploma in Diversity Management. As Lead Investigator and National Director of the African Canadian Legal Clinic’s Initiative for Capacity Building, Edwin worked with Black communities across Canada, to promote good policy responses for marginalized groups.


Representing Humanist

Kathleen Johnson – Calgary


Proud of her Caribbean heritage and Humanist values, Kathleen advocates for justice, equality, and elimination of discrimination of all kinds to help people and organizations become authentically inclusive. Board Director with Humanist Canada and Secular Humanists of Calgary, and founder of Black Nonbelievers of Canada and the Critical Black Thought Society. Kathleen holds a BA in Sociology & Cultural Anthropology and is pursuing her MA in Women's Leadership.


Representing Buddhism

Rev Horana Anuruddha Thero - Cambridge


A higher ordained Buddhist monk and the Abbot and President of Waterloo Wellington Buddhist Monastery and Meditation Center. Prior to his monkhood, he was a mechanical engineer with an MBA under his belt, who was experiencing highs and lows of lay life. He then made a life choice to enter a transformational and reflective journey as a “spiritual seeker”, whilst serving the community.


Representing Hinduism

Dr. Praveen Saxena – Guelph


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. Dr. Saxena also researches interconnectedness of plants, humans, environment, 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.


Representing Islam

Imam Nabil Ahmad Mirza – Montreal


Prolific speaker and a research scholar of Islam. Imam Nabil is the Associate Editor of La Revue des Religions. Originally from France, graduated from the Ahmadiyya Islamic University UK. Currently serving as a missionary and Imam at Al-Nusrat Mosque, Montreal. Routinely appears on a global Muslim Television network (MTA) and other broadcast media. Traveled Canada-wide removing misconceptions about Islam. Strong proponent of interfaith dialogue with participation in numerous interfaith ventures.


Representing Christianity

Rev. Dr. Das Sydney - Kitchener


A bright leader and speaker. President of the Canadian Council of Churches and is on the Board of Christians Together Waterloo Region. Rev. Syndney has served as an Adjunct at the Divinity Colleges of Acadia (Wolfville, NS) and McMaster (Hamilton, ON). He was born in India, moved to Africa, and arrived in Canada as a teenager. He is currently the Lead Pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Kitchener.


Representing Judaism

Rabbi Lori Cohen - Waterloo


A Jewish scholar and a strong advocate of interfaith relations, Lori received ordination from Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem and Cincinnati, Ohio in 2000. Lori has been the faith leader of Temple Shalom in Waterloo since 2008. Temple Shalom is an inclusive and welcoming community that strives to fulfill the ethical callings of the prophets – to care for the poor and oppressed and seek justice for all.


Representing Indigenous

Brenda Jacobs - Hamilton


Phenomenal member of Mohawk Nation of the Bear Clan from the Haudenosaunee Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.  Brenda’s greatest roles are being a mother of 3 beautiful children and grandmother of 5.  Performed personal healing work on intergenerational trauma patients.  Trained as an Aboriginal Midwife. Currently, Cultural Capacity Trainer at the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre providing education on Indigenous Worldview, history and impacts of colonization and residential schools.


Representing Sikhism

Dr. Parminder Singh – Toronto


Multi-talented and vibrant. Dr. Singh serves as the vice-chair of the Ontario Sikhs and Gurdwara Council. Medical Doctor by profession and has obtained certification of Mental Health and Trauma from Harvard University. Regularly appears on CBC and CP24 speaking on various topics and was the founding commentator for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition and the NBA in Punjabi calling the Raptors Championship playoff run. 

© 2024 World Religions Conference. All Rights Reserved.