Speaker Profiles (37th WRC)

Following is a line up distinguished speakers and scholars chosen to represent different faiths & philosophies at the upcoming 37th World Religions Conference on Saturday, November 4, 2017 at the Humanities Theatre, University of Waterloo. The theme for this year's event is "My Faith & Canadian Values".

Presided and Moderated by

Councillor Melissa Durrell – Waterloo

Councillor of the City of Waterloo and a brilliant event moderator. An award-winning TV anchor. Runs her own communications company. A strong believer in good communication, economic development and fiscal responsibility.  Passionate about helping people and giving them a platform to communicate their concerns. Melissa wants to make Waterloo one of the most livable cities in the world and is working hard to make that happen.

Representing Indigenous Spirituality

Amy Smoke – Waterloo

Phenomenal Mohawk member of the Turtle clan from the Six Nations of The Grand River. A mother, daughter, mature student, public speaker and active First Nations member. Speaks of her own journey with substance abuse, homelessness, incarceration, and domestic violence. Recipient of "Leading Women Building Communities" award through MPP Fife’s office. Continues to advocate for First Nations students while serving as the event coordinator at the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Center at UW.


Representing Humanism

Doug Thomas – Elmira

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

Representing Christianity

Reverend Andrew J. Asbil - Toronto

Awe-inspiring and a passionate story teller, Rev Asbil is an Ordained Anglican Priest serving as the incumbent of Church of the Redeemer in Toronto. Master of Divinity degree from University of Western Ontario. Formerly, served as parish prienst in Guelph, Acton and Oakville. Served on numerous community and Diocesan boards in both Niagara and Toronto. Considerable experience as a keynote speaker and workshop leader for Church and community conferences.

Representing Sikh Faith

Dr. Jaspreet Kaur Bal - Toronto

Professor in the Child and Youth Care program at Humber College in Toronto. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from Queen’s University, where her research focused on children’s rights and education. She is a practitioner of Sikhi. As a part of her practice she is a musician, a speaker at Sikh retreats, a community organizer and serves on the Board of Directors of the Sikh Feminist Research Institute and Kaurs United International.

Representing Judaism

Dr. Daniel Maoz - Cambridge

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

Representing Hinduism

Swami Chidghan-anand – Orlando Florida USA

Highly accomplished yogi, Swami Chidgan-anand is affiliated with the International Brahm Rishi Mission (IBM) since 1980 and with Canada Kitchener branch since 1997. Currently the Head and Spiritual Leader for Shri Shiv Dham Hindu Temple and Yoga Ashram, Orlando Florida. Formerly served as preacher at the Brahmrishi Mission of Canada and Holland. Extensively studied main Hindu scriptures such as Veda, Upanishads , Ramayana, Bhagwat Gita, Purina’s and yoga philosophy.


Representing Islam

Imam Imtiaz Ahmed – Toronto

Engaging and influential speaker and writer. Imtiaz is the Imam of Bai’tul Islam, one of the largest Mosques in Canada. Graduated in Islamic Theology and Comparative Religions (2010) in Canada. Served as a Missionary in Ghana, Africa and Ottawa, Canada. Working persistently to bridge relations at Interfaith events and appearing in media interviews. Named as the 25 most influential young Canadians by the Power and Influence Magazine.


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