2nd annual Edmonton Festival of Faiths brings together more than twenty different religions and traditions from across the city!

September 13, 2016

Edmonton (September 13) - After a successful premiere in 2015, the Festival of Faiths, Edmonton’s interfaith festival, is not only returning this year but expanding, with an additional evening panel and even more different faiths, traditions and beliefs represented than in its initial year.

“In a time where we’re seeing increased discrimination, racism, and division in both the world and our own local community, we think that events like this are more important than ever,” says Jonn Kmech, one of the co-organizers of the festival. “Despite the fact that everyone has some way of deriving meaning in their life, whether they are Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Indigenous, ‘spiritual but not religious’, etc., religion tends to be a taboo subject that can be difficult to discuss even with friends. We want to give people the opportunity to directly talk to, and learn from, people who practice different religions and traditions, as well as give people the opportunity to engage in challenging but respectful interfaith dialogue.”

A volunteer initiative entirely planned by young adults under the age of 35 through the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, the Festival will take place all day September 25th at Boyle Street Community League (9538 103A Ave.). This year’s festival is also adding an evening panel discussion at 7 pm on September 24th at the Stanley Milner Library Theatre entitled “LGBTQ Voices Within Faith-Based Religions” that will foster discussion around the various intersections between faith, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

The main festival on September 25th will feature exhibits from more than 20 different faith groups from our city, including representation from larger religions like Christianity and Islam, Indigenous traditions such as Cree spirituality, and smaller faiths such as the Quakers, Satanism, Bahá'í and Zoroastrianism. There will be several spoken word poets performing, as well as panel discussions on community service and faith, as well as secular governance and religion, the latter discussing such current event topics such as the burkini ban and public funding of private religious schools.

There will also be a seminar series titled Religion 101 that will give faiths the opportunity to give a more thorough introduction to their tradition. Refreshments for the day will be provided by Seva Food Truck (http://sevafoodtruck.org/), a charity initiative founded by the Sikh community to tackle issues of food security and poverty burdening individuals in the greater community at large.

The first Festival of Faiths, held last September at City Hall, included 18 faith group exhibits, two panel discussions, and numerous performances and films. The festival aims to foster a greater awareness and appreciation of Edmonton’s faith diversity, in a safe, inclusive and welcoming space for Edmontonians of all backgrounds to reflect on faith, diversity, community and compassion.

“The role of interfaith work and dialogue is both dispelling ignorance through education, and also challenging each other respectfully through discussion, so we can all grow together and refine our own beliefs,” says Kmech. “When you get to know people personally who believe differently, and often look differently,  than you一even if you may disagree with their beliefs一this decreases fear, discrimination, and hate and promotes understanding and acceptance. That is what this festival is about.”

The festival is sponsored by the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, the Edmonton Interfaith Centre for Education and Action, and the City of Edmonton.

Co-organizers Jonn Kmech and Giselle General are available for phone interviews before the festival.

For additional information, please contact:

Tisha Raj
Program and Communications Coordinator
John Humphrey Centre for Peace & Human Rights
Contact: 780.453.2638 or tisha@jhcentre.org