Manitoba Multifaith Council

Manitoba Multifaith Council is an association of faith communities, representatives of faith communities, and individuals from various faith traditions throughout Manitoba. For more information see our annual report.
Native Spirituality

The Purpose of the Manitoba Multifaith Council (MMC)
“To operate exclusively as a charitable organization for the purpose of promoting interfaith and multifaith dialogue and understanding, to educate the public about world religions and to promote collaboration amongst people of faith in order to foster the well being of the community as a whole.”   From Articles of Incorporation in Manitoba
Pursuant to BY-LAW NO.1 of MANITOBA MULTIFAITH COUNCIL, Inc. (2011), notice is given for its Annual General Meeting to take place on

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Saint John XXIII Roman Catholic Church — 3390 Portage Ave — Winnipeg, MB

To receive the reports of the President, Recording Secretary, Treasurer, Committees of MMC, and Auditor(s); to appoint auditors; to elect the Board of Directors; and to consider and transact any other MMC business.

AGM Report, as well as Applications for Membership, will be available approximately a week prior to the meeting at: While copies will be available at the meeting, we encourage you to go “paper-less” and download a PDF copy of these documents to your mobile device.

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Assiniboia Residential School Reunion and Commemoration Event June 23 and 24, 2017

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Response to Brian Giesbrecht’s April 12 2017 op ed on behalf of the Manitoba Multifaith Council (published in Winnipeg Free Press Letters and Comments April 17, 2017):  
"Islamophobia rooted in ignorance"
Re: Religion’s intolerance is why I’m an Islamophobe (April 12)

Reading this article, we are left feeling that Brian Giesbrecht is equally misinformed about Islam as he is about the history of residential schools and its tragic legacy (as evidenced by his many articles on the subject). Rather than correctly defining Islam as a religion, he attempts to convince us that the most extremist and fundamentalist versions such as the philosophies of the Islamic State group are in fact "Islam."

We would expect Giesbrecht, in consequence of a long and distinguished career on the bench, to avail himself of all the evidence available and weigh it judiciously before rendering such a sweeping and condemnatory verdict on the world’s second-largest faith, the insights and intellectual attainments of which are far too numerous to even begin to list here.

Does Giesbrecht suggest Muslim women in Canada do not have equal rights or are endangered? The rosters of law, business and medical schools, and universities in general, suggest otherwise. He generalizes that "a person who renounces Islam is... liable to the death penalty," yet Muslims right here in Winnipeg have done so, and other Muslims still associate with them.

The French government’s 2016 Report on Racism, Antisemitism and Xenophobia, published by its Commision nationale consulatative des droits de l’homme (National Human Rights Advisory Commission), provides us with a concise definition of Islamophobia worth bringing to our attention as "a systematic hostile attitude towards Muslims, people perceived as Muslims and/or Islam." It similarly defines anti-Semitism as "a systematic hostile attitude towards Jews, people perceived as Jews and/or their religion."

Understood in this light, Motion 103 calls upon the government to condemn a systemic hostile attitude toward Muslims and Islam. It asks the government to "recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear," and to request for the "Commons Heritage Committee to study how the government could develop a government-wide approach to reducing or eliminating systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia, to collect data to provide context for hate crime reports and to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities."

Fear-mongering reflects and contributes to intolerance and lack of knowledge. Giesbrecht certainly has the "right" to criticize certain extremist forms of Islam, as do many Muslims, but none of us has the right to be Islamophobic, as that is something entirely different and unacceptable.

Belle Jarniewski
President, Manitoba Multifaith Council, Winnipeg

Multifaith Leadership Breakfast

View more pictures from the event here
Manitoba Multifaith Council’s Statement in Response to Shooting at Mosque in Quebec CityCanadians were shaken to the core by the shooting at the mosque in Quebec City on January 29th.  From coast to coast to coast, we displayed solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers, and condemned Islamophobia.

In the weeks that followed, sporadic anti-Muslim protests have continued. The anti-Muslim protests which took place this weekend in several Canadian cities, including Winnipeg are an attack against every Canadian. On March 1st, an Islamophobic letter to media outlets threatened to detonate “small artisanal explosive devices” at Concordia University to injure Muslim students, presenting perhaps the most shocking among recent events.  An explosion of Antisemitic acts across Canada and the United States has likewise continued:  swastikas carved in snow, in university classrooms, and on automobiles; more than100 bomb threats to Jewish community centres, schools and synagogues; the desecration of Jewish cemeteries; a bullet fired into the (empty) classroom of a synagogue.

Manitoba Multifaith Council believes that, in these difficult times, it is imperative to witness the support that faith communities have provided, are providing and will provide for one another:  funds raised by the Muslim community in the US to repair damaged Jewish cemeteries, personal messages and public gatherings which are emblematic of the growing concern that Canadians share in the face of outright racism and xenophobia.

Manitoba Multifaith Council condemns all forms of individual, targeted and systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia and Antisemitism. 

Manitoba Multifaith Council applauds and aligns with efforts of individuals and communities to support one another, engaging our abilities, influence and efforts to effect positive change and dialogue and understanding.

Lieutenant Governor’s Award for the Advancement of Interreligious Understanding
Held February 7, 2017 at Government House
Award recipient, Devon Clunis and her Honour, Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon
Manitoba Multifaith Council President, Belle Jarniewski, Award recipient, Devon Clunis, her Honour, Lieutenant Governor Janice Filmon, John Burchill (nominator). 
Photos courtesy of Tracey Goncalves, Government Photographer.
Standing Against Hate (Winnipeg Free Press, January 10, 2016)
Re: Anti-Semitic message shocks homeowner (Jan. 4)

The Dec. 31 hate crime that targeted a Jewish family in Wolseley referenced Nazi imagery and hateful language associated with the extermination of six million Jews in the Shoah to send its message of hate, to threaten and to instil fear. It is perhaps indicative of what has been happening all over the United States and Canada — certain limits are being transgressed.

In the wake of the American election and the rise of the white supremacist alt-right movement, references to Nazi imagery have proliferated, and the Wolseley hate crime is an example among many others in recent weeks, such as the defacement of a sign in front of Hebrew Union College Seminary in Cincinnati with a swastika or a Hanukkah menorah outside an Arizona home that was vandalized overnight and twisted into the shape of a swastika. In Whitefish, Mont., neo-Nazis have threatened an "armed march on the Jews" on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 16), in an action targeting "Jews, Jewish business, and everyone who supports either."

Neo-Nazism and white supremacy are not new ideologies that have suddenly emerged in Canada or in the United States. Ernst Zundel is well known to Canadians as a neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier, but as early as the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups made inroads into Canada. These groups never really disappear; they simply ebb and flow as events and the political climate allow.

We must be vigilant against this trend and stand together in rejecting this kind of ugliness — and I’m proud to say that in Winnipeg that is exactly what we are doing. If there is anything positive to learn (if one can even use the word "positive" when referring to a hate crime) when reflecting on this latest act: it made the front page. That signifies how deeply affected we are by this sort of ugliness. We care. We are neither apathetic nor jaded. We remain shocked by such acts of hate. As well, we support each other. Within hours, messages poured in from members of other faith communities offering support. And that is the way things go in our city whenever one of us is attacked — we stand together. Things have changed very much from the dark days of the 1930s when "none was too many."

We appreciate the efforts of the Winnipeg Police Service as they investigate this hate crime and we hope that the family that was targeted will be comforted by the response of the countless individuals who care.

Belle Jarniewski
President, Manitoba Multifaith Council
City of Winnipeg to Officially Acknowledge International Holocaust Remembrance Day
Our President, Belle Jarniewski, addressed Mayor Brian Bowman and Winnipeg City Council on January 25 on the topic of the UN designated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Mayor Bowman announced  that the City of Winnipeg would be officially acknowledging International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and lowering the flag to half-mast, marking the first time since the passing of the UN resolution in 2005, marked the date. Mayor Bowman and Councillor Marty Morantz, who was instrumental in helping to bring this idea forward also spoke.
Councillor Marty Morantz, MCC President Belle Jarniewski and Mayor Brian Bowman.
President Jarniewski’s address and more photos can be found here.
Take a look at Mayor Bowman's response to President Jarniewski's Address
Ground Is Broken for Winnipeg Manitoba Temple
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined with community leaders in Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, on Saturday, December 3, 2016, to break ground for a new temple. This will be the ninth temple in Canada.
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Digging the first shovelful of dirt are (from left to right) Yvonne and Allan Robison; Sister Lynda and Elder Larry Wilson; Terry Duguid, Member of Parliament, Winnipeg South; Janice Lukes, Councilor, South Winnipeg, St. Norbert Ward; and Belle Jarniewski, president of the Manitoba Multifaith Council. The groundbreaking ceremony was for the Winnipeg Manitoba Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Saturday, December 3, 2016.
Education, Religion and a New Canadian Pluralism *** NEW***
Presentation at MMC AGM, May 31, 2016 by Tony Tavares, Consultant, Diversity Education and International Languages Instruction, Curriculum Assessment Branch, Manitoba Education.
Check out the presentation by clicking here
Statement of the Executive Board of Directors of the Manitoba Multifaith Council Regarding the Yazidi Genocide
Some four months after the declaration of genocide, Canada has a unique opportunity to take the lead among the international community to provide safe haven, care, aid and a new beginning for Yazidi survivors of genocide. Indeed, several members of the Board of the Manitoba Multifaith Council (MMC) have been actively engaged in helping to sponsor and resettle Yazidi refugees. 

According the report issued by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner, They Came to Destroy: ISIS Crimes Against the Yazidis, issued on June 16, 2016,…/HRCou…/CoISyria/A_HRC_32_CRP.2_en.pdf, IS “is committing genocide against the Yazidis and… has subjected every Yazidi woman, child or man that it has captured to the most horrific of atrocities.” The report has publicly cited the Yazidis’ faith as the basis for the attack of 3 August 2014 and its subsequent abuse of them.” The Commission urged international recognition of the genocide, and stated that more must be done to assure their protection, including the acceleration of asylum applications of Yazidi victims of genocide.

As a multifaith council, we feel a particular responsibility to stand together to emphasize that the Yazidis are being persecuted and massacred (as they have been for over 700 years) on the basis of faith alone. They have nowhere to go home to, no safe haven and must be segregated in refugee camps because they face danger from other refugees. Ironically, because of their segregation, entire UNHCR camps—some 25,000 Yazidis in Turkey alone—are easily identifiable. We call on Canada to respond to the UNHCR report, especially to sections 210, 212 and 213.

Several months have passed since Canada has recognized the genocide. Since then, only a handful of privately sponsored Yazidis have reached our shores. Many young women have committed suicide or mutilated themselves rather than be subjected to the sexual slavery and brutality of IS. It is time for Canada to respond.

Retired Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire has often spoken of the failure of humanity to have heard the call of a beleaguered people. He recalled that while most nations agreed that something needed to be done in Rwanda, no one stepped forward. He famously asked, “Are all humans human? Or are some more human than others?” So appears to be the situation with the Yazidis today

Who has remembered the ongoing suffering of the Yazidi and the documentation of atrocities in the UNCHR report?

As Canada looks ahead to 2020, hoping for a seat on the UN Security Council, a humanitarian response to the Yazidi genocide would likely be another jewel in the crown of Canada’s recent humanitarian achievements. Let history show that Canada once again displayed leadership.

Executive Board of Directors of the Manitoba Multifaith Council
Belle Jarniewski
Ray Harris
Dr. Mohinder Singh Dhillon
Dr. James Christie
Dr. Paul Peters Derry
Inquiries to
A Reflection on Hunger from our President
The summer of 2016 has been a “summer of discontent” throughout much of the world, especially with respect to interreligious understanding.

Considerable shock and outrage has been expressed worldwide for the draconian behaviour of the French “fashion police” in the continental bikini/burkini affair.  The burkini, a type of discreet swimwear worn by some Muslim women to preserve modesty, was banned in 30 French jurisdictions. Claiming the burkini breached the “respect of good morals and secularism,” a Muslim woman in Nice was fined and forced to publicly remove some of her clothing.

While French officials have stated the ban was a response to growing concerns about radical Islamic terrorism, the burkini is also worn by Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women for the same reasons of modesty as well as by those who are concerned about skin-protection. There may be more ridiculous incidents of religious and cultural ignorance in history: but not many. However, there is a fine line between ignorance and racism.

One needs not travel far to witness challenges nearer to home:

In September, a kirpan-wearing Sikh was denied service in a Winnipeg Dollarama store. As embarrassing as this must have been for the gentleman in question, the circumstances suggest misunderstanding rather than malevolence.

Not so recent events at the University of Alberta, the University of Lethbridge and most recently at the University of Calgary.

On the U of A campus, a poster was circulated, directly attacking the Sikh community and the iconic turban, employing obscenities in a clear incident of hate speech.

A faculty member of the University of Lethbridge employed a Facebook account not only to deny the Holocaust or Shoah, and to suggest antisemitic conspiracy theories behind 9/11, but also to utter threats of the most infamous kind against the Jewish community.

In the third incident, about 40 posters appeared at various locations at the University of Calgary, similar to the ones at the U of A, but this time attacking Muslims.

The Manitoba Multifaith Council has existed for well over half a century to promote interreligious understanding and the building of a just and inclusive society.

We would ask both the Universities of Alberta, Lethbridge and Calgary to state publicly, and nationally, what steps they will take to prevent such vile expressions of hate in the future. We ask this because the implications of these cases are far beyond provincial in scope, and to be prepared should such incidents manifest themselves in a Manitoba institution of higher learning.

To the business community of Manitoba, we offer our support in advancing interreligious understanding in the workplace.

Among our plans for the near future is the establishment of the Winnipeg Interfaith Business Initiative to encourage greater understanding of religious imperatives in the workplace.

We welcome all inquiries.

Belle Jarniewski, President, Manitoba Multifaith Council
Dr. James Christie, Chair, Community Relations Committee, Manitoba Multifaith Council
Operation Ezra’s Evening to Commemorate the Second Anniversary of the Yazidi Genocide

Candle lighting ceremony: Left to right: Michelle Rempel Conservative MP, Calgary-Nose Hill, Dr. John Young, President and CEO, CMHR, Dr. Clint Curle, Senior Advisor to the President, Stakeholder Relations, . Ben Rempel, Assistant Deputy Minister, Manitoba Education and Training—Immigration and Economic Opportunities, Ray Harris, Salvation Army/Manitoba Multifaith Council, Lorne Weiss, Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Leslie Wilder, Member, Board of Directors, Jewish Child and Family Service, Adam Levine, President, Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Ted Falk, Conservative MP, Provencher, Jim Carr, Federal Minster of Natural Resources, Liberal MP, Winnipeg South Centre, Cameron Bell, representing Minister Ron Schuler, Minster of Crown Services for the Province of Manitoba, Rob Altemeyer, New Democrat Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, for Wolesley, Rabbi Yosef Benarroch,  Adas Yeshurun Herzliya Congregation, Belle Jarniewski, Manitoba Multifaith Council/ Operation Era Working Committee.

For more photos please see Events

A presentation made to Dr. Mohinder Dhillon. in honour of his service to the Manitoba Multifaith Council.

Left to right: Ray Harris, Dr. Mohinder Dhillon, Belle Jarniewski.
Statement of the Manitoba Multifaith Council on the Recent Tragedies
The Manitoba Multifaith Council joins the global chorus of horror and dismay at the recent waves of violence perpetrated by some accounts and to some perspectives attributable to the religious impulse, in the immolation of 19 Yazidi women by the forces of Daesh (IS) in early June and the shootings in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in the early hours of June 12. We lift up several foundational concerns that extend beyond the visceral revulsion provoked by such acts.

We acknowledge and confess that all too often in the course of human history religious communities of all stripes have betrayed the founding impulses of their communities. We pledge yet again to stand by the conviction, as stated in many of our religious traditions, that within Creation all human beings are made in the image of the Divine; and that consequently, the image of God in all humans implies that each person has “infinite value, equality and uniqueness.” (Rabbi Irving Greenberg).

We hold these convictions to be universal human values, regardless of race, religion, orientation, or nationality.

We call upon all Manitobans, whether people of faith or no faith; we call on people of good will everywhere to:

  • Resist superficial analysis of these tragedies and the religious implications of each;
  • To suspend judgement concerning motivations and meaning in the face of apparent meaningless;
  • To refrain from xenophobic suspicion of the other;
  • To pursue open dialogue amongst people of differing religious traditions and ideological positions;
  • To seek always and everywhere to be agents of reconciliation, instruments of peace and understanding in contrast to the demagogue urgings of those who would pervert religious faith or human ideals to the demonic ends of hatred and bigotry;
  • To embrace complexity in all aspects of the human adventure.

We urge the leaders of our province and our nation to recall the provisions of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which recognize the integrity and liberty of religious expression and to apply that recognition to all policies of our province and nation, whether domestic or global.

We remember, soberly and hopefully John Dunne’s conviction that “no (one) is an island,” and the wisdom of the late Rabbi Harry Joshua Stern that we will have “one world or no world.”

2016 Annual General Meeting

MMC Board 2015-2016 Left to Right: Back Row: Paul Peters Derry, Josh Gruninger, Ron Long, Al Benarroch
Front Row: Dr. James Christie, Belle Jarniewski, Nafiya Naso, Rich Ludwick, Diane Dwarka, Ray Harris (missing from photo: Dr. Mohinder Singh Dhillon, Robert Polz, Harold King).
Presentation to Harold King in honour of his contributions the Provincial Chaplaincy Advisory Committee by Bernie Mullins. 

Panel Discussion: Education, Religion and a New Canadian Pluralism.”
Left to right: Tony Tavares, Ruth Ashrafi, Helen Robinson-Settee (Panellists), Al Benarroch (Moderator)
Left to right: Tony Tavares, Ruth Ashrafi, Helen Robinson-Settee
Manitoba Multifaith Council Tribute Cards
Honour someone special, the memory of a loved one, celebrate a special occasion or send a condolence card.

The Manitoba Multifaith Council is now offering beautiful personalized tribute cards for a minimum donation of $10.

We are also offering an assortment of 5 blank tribute cards and envelopes in a plastic case for $25.

The cards make a lovely gift and are great to have on hand when you want to include a special note.

Donations for single personalized tribute cards (minimum donation $10) are fully tax-receiptable.  

For a gift pack of 5 cards, the cost is $25, for which you will receive a tax donation receipt of $15.
To order personalized tribute cards or gift packs, please call
 204-489-3520 or email 
PRESS RELEASE - October 8, 2015
In recent weeks, The Manitoba Multifaith Council (MMC) has observed with increasing dismay the employment of xenophobia – most particularly Islamaphobia - as a political wedge issue in the current federal election campaign. We are deeply disturbed by the apparent support of Canadians from coast to coast to coast at suggestions of draconian legislative measures intended to further stoke the fears of some Canadians of their neighbours whose religion and religious symbols are unfamiliar to them. During the closing days of last week and over the weekend, we have seen not simply an escalation in virulent verbal attacks on Muslims, but two documented assaults on Muslim women.

In Montreal, a pregnant young Muslim woman was assaulted and knocked to the ground by two teenage males. In a Toronto mall, a second young woman was roughly handled by an adult  male while in the presence of her two young daughters.

Manitoba Multifaith Council sees a direct link between these increasingly vicious attacks to last weekend's comments that risk employing religious symbolism and identity as wedge issues among Canadian voters.  We call all political leaders to a higher level of political discourse.

Setting aside our common religious injunction in whatever form to “love our neighbour”, these elected officials and others are concerned only with dividing our neighbours.

To date, the Courts are having none of this; as religious leaders of many faiths, we concur with the courts and their interpretation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms for all Canadians.

MMC recognizes that it is beyond our competence – and beyond wisdom – to engage in the political arena in a partisan manner.  But these are issues of human decency; of religious integrity; of religious liberty; of the security of persons.

MMC does not take sides on the merits or otherwise of any particular religious symbol, including the niquab.

MMC will stand up for our fellow citizens who have been  subjected to abuse, and now to violence.

MMC deplores and condemns any and all violence and incendiary language committed on the basis of religious garb or symbols, and we commit to standing by our sisters and brothers of all faiths – and none.

MMC fears that such ignorant and intentionally cruel, cynical and divisive language may yet issue in death.

Heeding the Irish Statesman, Edmund Burke, we will not permit evil by doing nothing in the face of evil.

Manitoba Multifaith Council calls upon persons of good will of all faith groups and none to stand together for liberty and justice for all.

Manitoba Multifaith Council

What is MMC?

The Manitoba Multifaith Council (MMC) is a registered non-profit corporation founded in 1969 to afford faith communities a unified voice in speaking on matters of common concern.

As Manitoba becomes increasingly diverse, the group seeks to build the common good of the province by facilitating respect, understanding and cooperation among different faith groups. MMC recognizes and respects the differences among faith communities while celebrating and acting upon common values.
Read the MMC Fact Sheet here

In what areas is MMC involved?


  • Builds bridges of understanding between faith communities and within the broader society.
  • Provides the community with information and resources on world religions.
  • Serves as a forum for interfaith dialogue.

Spiritual Health

  • Provides spiritual health information and programs.
  • Consults regarding spiritual care services for individuals in public health care institutions.


  • Promotes spiritual care for persons in the criminal justice and correctional system.
  • Gathers organizations and individuals together to reflect and act on criminal justice issues.

Community Relations

  • Builds relationships with government, media, related organizations, faith communities and the larger public

How can I get involved?

  • Visit the website to learn more:
  • Participate in an MMC event.
  • Become a member. Membership is open to individuals and faith groups who share MMC’s vision.
  • Join a committee, to help MMC’s work in different sectors.
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Annual Report 2015-16
annual report
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Organizational Identity
Name Change, Incorporation and Charitable Organization Status
As a follow-up to the resolution passed at the AGM, the Manitoba Interfaith Council (MIC) has been renamed, and registered as the Manitoba Multifaith Council (MMC) to be distinguished from Manitoba Interfaith Immigration Council (MIIC), and to more fully reflect the greater diversity which makes up the Province of Manitoba in our present day.  
2017 Multifaith Calendar
2013 calendar
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* A source of accurate dates and descriptions of approx 430 events, including observances from 14 world religions.
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