10th World Religions Conference, Yukon


Syed Mukarram Nazeer, Canada Correspondent

Yukon is the smallest and westernmost of Canada’s three territories. It is situated east of Alaska, between British Columbia and the Arctic Ocean. It has an area of 482,442 square kilometres, which is about the size of Spain.

Yukon is rich in minerals, gas and oil and tourism is big due to the unspoiled valleys and Rocky Mountains. It is home to Canada’s highest mountain peak Mount Logan, which rises to a height of 5,959 metres or 19,551 feet. It has the smallest population of any province or territory in Canada, totalling just over 40,000. Of these 30,000 call the capital city of Whitehorse home. The other 10,000 residents just really like their peace and quiet!

Yukon is the western most part of Canada and is truly the “western corner of Canada”.

For Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Canada, conveying the message of Islam Ahmadiyyat to this part of Canada, is a fulfillment of the prophecy of the Promised Messiah, “I shall cause thy message to reach the corners of the earth”.

Regional co-ordinator Tabligh, British Columbia and Yukon, Rizwan Peerzada Sahib reports that since 2007, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya British Columbia has been hosting events regularly in Yukon with this intent. These include world religion conferences and other events.

For the last two years, events have been organised in cooperation with indigenous tribes of Yukon. It is a huge undertaking given that Whitehorse is at close to 2,400 km (1,491 miles) from Bait-ur-Rahman Mosque, Vancouver, the provincial headquarters of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya British Columbia.

The planning for the conference started in September 2019 by reserving the venue, Whitehorse United Church, Whitehorse, Yukon. Over the following two months, speakers, panel members, and moderators were confirmed.

Next was the publicity of the event. For this, 120 posters were put up at various locations in Whitehorse, Yukon. These included local churches, coffee shops, libraries, public notice boards, and college notice boards.

200 flyers were distributed, 200 invitations were sent to email addresses collected from previous events in Whitehorse, and 500 invitations were faxed. Conference advertisement was run on social media including Facebook and Instagram and also in local newspapers and radio. Various Whitehorse organisations including community organisations, Whitehorse tourism, and Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce were contacted and invited to be part of the conference.

The 10th World Religions Conference was held on 5 March 2020 in Whitehorse. The theme of the conference this year was “How to establish a just society?”. The event moderator was Member of Parliament, Honourable Larry Bagnell. Other distinguished guest included Speaker of Yukon Legislative Assembly Honourable Nils Clark, Commissioner of Yukon Honorable Angelique Bernard, Chair Interfaith Council of Whitehorse Mr Clark Stuart, and Mayor of Whitehorse His Worship Dan Curtis. Speakers from nine faith and spiritual groups participated and presented their answer to the question of the conference, in light of their faith.

These included:

1. Indigenous – Ms Alestine Andre

2. Baha‘ism – Mrs Linda Thorseth

3. Christianity – Mrs Elizabeth Roberts, Protestant Christians Perspective

4. Judaism – Mr Rick Karp

5. Islam – Missionary Umair Khan Sahib

6. Christianity – Mr Michael Dougherty, Catholic Church Perspective

7. Hinduism – Vaibhav Nandwana

8. Buddhism – Mr Rick Buchan

9. Sikhism – Gian Singh Sandhu

A large number of attendees were non-Ahmadi guests. Many of them shared their experience of the event. Some comments from guests are shared below:

Commissioner of Yukon, Honorable Angelique Bernard said:

“Thank you so much for organising the Whitehorse event. It was a great evening. Let us know when you are back in Yukon.”

Yukon Legislative Assembly Speaker, Honourable Nils Clark said:

“I just wanted to follow-up to thank-you and your organisation for dedicating your time and energy in making the 10th World Religion Conference in Whitehorse a reality. It is likely the only annual opportunity that Yukoners of so many faiths have to meet and learn from each other. It is evidently well-received!”

The total attendance of the event was 143. After the event, all guests were served dinner.

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