15th World Religions Conference, Prince George, Canada

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Syed Mukarram Nazeer, Canada Correspondent

Waseem Ahmad Sahib reports that Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya British Columbia region has been hosting the “World Religion Conference” in the city of Prince George since 2004. The city is located near the geographic centre of British Columbia, approximately 800 km North of Baitur Rahman mosque, Vancouver.

With a population of 74,000 people, Prince George is the largest city in northern British Columbia. It has a university and a college, offers affordable housing, well-paying jobs and comprehensive transportation infrastructure. It is a vital transportation hub with an international airport, highways and railways. Home to Fraser and Nechako rivers, it offers an extensive park and trail system with more than 100 parks and green spaces.

The “World Religions Conference” has the following goals and objectives:

1. Explore teachings and practices of different religious and philosophical traditions, with the hope that such mutual exploration will encourage better understanding and promote harmonious co-existence among the members of Canada’s cultural mosaic

2. Strive to shorten the gap between diverse communities, and to demonstrate that we can live together in spirit of acceptance, harmony and compassion

3. Promote interfaith respect, harmony, inclusiveness and diversity. It inculcates mutual understanding and respect between different faith traditions and philosophies of the world. It promotes respect, harmony, and cohesion among all people

Presently, Prince George has a very small Jamaat. Hence, the event was done under the supervision of Rizwan Peerzada Sahib, regional co-ordinator tabligh in British Columbia. Majlis Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Abbotsford, British Columbia played a crucial role in the promotion of the event.

The event promotion started a month earlier. The task was divided into the following three main parts, each being assigned to a different team:

1. Online paid marketing: Paid advertisements were placed on social media, where more than 21,875 people viewed the conference invitation.

2. Online free marketing: Unpaid online advertisements were placed on various social media platforms. 1,092 people viewed the programme promotion, 108 people engaged with the posts, while 37 people commented. 900 emails were also sent to promote the event.

3. Online posting of free advertisements promoting the conference which were placed in nine different cities.

The event was also available at the online event management and ticketing website. Radio advertisements were placed in multiple local radio stations. One radio show held a 15-minute interview with missionary of British Columbia, Umair Khan Sahib. Another team ensured the smooth transmission of the online proceedings.

The programme started at 6pm with the recitation of the Holy Quran by Qaid Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Abbotsford, Mirza Naveed Sahib. Regional co-ordinator of tabligh in British Columbia, Rizwan Peerzada Sahib delivered the welcome remarks.

The missionary of British Columbia, Umair Khan Sahib delivered a presentation on the topic of “Contribution of religions to the world”.

The regional president of British Columbia, Naeem Ahmad Lakhan Sahib gave introductory remarks too. The event was moderated by president of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Prince George, Mr David Coleman.

The following seven speakers from various faith presented their views:

1. Hinduism: Dr Pranesh Kumar

2. Church of the Latter Day Saints: Mr Jon Duncan

3. Sikhism: Dr Balbinder Singh Deo, PhD

4. Judaism: Rabbi Dr. Laura Duhan Kaplan

5. Bahaiism: Mrs Charlotte Wenninger

6. Christianity: Pastor Fleming Blishen

7. Islam: Umair Khan Sahib

335 non-Ahmadi Muslim guests and 16 members of the Jamaat attended online. These included Councillor Sandy Blue of the city of Abbotsford. All dignitaries appreciated this event.

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