Speaker Profiles (38th WRC)

Following is a line up distinguished speakers and scholars chosen to represent different faiths & philosophies at the upcoming 38th World Religions Conference on Sunday, November 20, 2016 at the Humanities Theatre, University of Waterloo. The theme for this year's event is "End-of-Life Decisions: Faith-Based Perspectives". 

Presided and Moderated by

Phil Allt (City of Guelph Councillor)

A multifarious and impartial event host, Phil is a city Councillor in Guelph, who has attended the Universities of Western Ontario, Guelph, McMaster and Toronto earning 3 degrees and engaging in doctoral studies as well. His focus has been on European Modern Thought, Christianity with a focus on liberation theology, social justice and pacifism and aesthetics. He enjoys neighbourhood breakfast programs, playing Jazz guitar, and scuba diving.

Representing Christianity

Michael Clifton – Kitchener

Charming presenter, Michael is a lawyer, adjudicator, lay minister, community volunteer, punk rock singer, and concert producer. Has degrees in law and philosophy, served over 35 years in ministry and administration for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is on the Steering Committees of Interfaith Grand River and Christians Together Waterloo Region.  Though various voluntary commitments keep him busy, his favorite titles are husband, father and grandfather.


Representing Islam

Imam Muhammad Afzal Mirza – Toronto

Prolific speaker and a learned scholar of Islam. Muhammad is the Imam of the Bai’tul Islam Toronto, one of the largest Mosques in Canada. Takes keen interest in youth welfare. Regularly hosts a live phone-in radio program explaining contemporary Islamic issues. Graduate from the Ahmadiyya Islamic University. Worked as a Missionary in Pakistan, USA and now in Canada. Former Vice President of the Institute of Islamic Studies in Toronto.

Representing Buddhism

Bhante Sasanasarana – Toronto

Engaging and influential teacher of Buddhism. Bhante is ordained in Sri Lanka in 2014 under the guidance of Ven. Kiribathgoda Ghanananda Thero in Theravada Buddhist tradition. Master of Satellite Communication Engineering from Westminster University in England. Currently, he is teaching Buddhism and meditation in Buddha meditation Center and to the high schools in Greater Toronto area. He served as a preacher in Sri Lanka and Winnipeg.

Representing Sikhism

Jasmine Kaur – Toronto

Brilliant speaker. Jasmine found her calling in the Sikh faith and was formally initiated in 2013. Graduated from McMaster, and now pursing her Doctors of Chiropractic in Toronto. Has been speaking at Sikh conferences, retreats, and gatherings in Canada, U.S. and England.  Moreover, loves to sing, serves as an organizer for the Sikh Youth Federation, and studying multi-faith scriptures and meditation under the guidance of Swami Ram Singh Yogi.

Representing Baha’i Faith

Jaellayna Palmer – Waterloo

Extensive essayist, Jaellayna is a newspaper columnist and publisher of book of personal essays “Personal Path, Practical Feet”. Long time resident of the Waterloo region. Originally from the US, moved to Canada after 8 years as volunteer at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. Retired from her career in Instructional Design, she is passionate about travel – having visited 45 countries so far – and fitness.

Representing Indigenous Spirituality

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.  Personal healing work on intergenerational trauma has helped her become who she is today.  Trained as an Aboriginal Midwife.  Currently, Cultural Resource Coordinator at the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre.


Representing Judaism

Dr. Daniel Maoz – Cambridge

Engaging speaker and Jewish scholar, Daniel is member of both Orthodox and Reform Jewish communities in Kitchener-Waterloo. He is 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

Swami Haripriya Parivrajika – Kitchener

Disciple of H.H. Brahmrishi Shri Vishvatma Bawra Ji Maharaj, Haripriya completed M.A. in psychology from Rijks University of Leiden, Holland. In India did spiritual practices, studied Sanskrit, Yoga, Upanishad and other scriptures and since 2001 a preacher at Brahmarishi Mission of Canada. Teaches Yoga, Sanskrit and delivers discourses at various places including Universities in Canada, India and Europe. Organizes and conducts Yoga Camps and courses for children and adults.


Representing Humanism

Sassan Sanei – Kitchener

Amazing Speaker, Sassan is a Humanist Officiant who performs marriage ceremonies and other life celebrations for people of all backgrounds. A graduate of the University of Waterloo, with degrees in philosophy and electrical engineering. Works in the technology sector and currently serves on the board of directors for Humanist Canada as an advocate for equal rights, secular schools, and public policy formulated on science and evidence.



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