Written by Saba Khan, EnviroMuslims.
|Art by Shannon Loomer of ThinkLink Graphics|
On Sunday, October 30, EnviroMuslims and Faith & the Common Good (FCG) hosted Faiths4Climate Conversations, an interfaith event celebrating the sustainability success stories of faith groups across the Greater Toronto Area. Inspired by the Greening Canadian Mosques program - a program created by these two partners and funded by Olive Tree Foundation - Faiths4Climate Conversations was an opportunity to discuss sustainability initiatives taking place across GTA places of worship. It provided a platform for organizations to speak about their work in engaging with diverse faith communities across the country. The event was also a welcomed occasion for networking with like-minded folks, and allowed for a space to explore synergies and potential partnerships among faith communities.
Supported by TD Friends of the Environment, and hosted at the Jaffari Community Centre in Thornhill, Ontario, the event brought together 65 attendees from Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Catholic, Sikh and Hindu backgrounds. A number of guest speakers gave presentations.
- Gloria Boxen from Congregation Darchei Noam spoke about the synagogue’s eoc-journey and how it began over 20 years ago
- Susan Berry from the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga highlighted the congregation’s green infrastructure and the importance of keeping green principals in mind while building new spaces
- Michelle Sullivan from Community Disaster Response Ontario spoke about the opportunity faith communities have to provide support and guidance during climate disasters such as floods, heatwaves and snow storms
- Michael Polanyi from Nature Canada, who spoke to the group about Nature Canada’s work including their latest groundbreaking special report featuring how Canada’s logging emissions are equivalent to those from its oil sands operations
- Aadil Nathani from Green Ummah spoke about their Greening Our Communities program, a project tailored towards engaging with youth with questions such as, What does it mean to be green? What impacts how I think about the environment? How can we build an inclusive green movement?
- Dr. Abinaash Kaur from Khalsa Aid spoke about the group’s humanitarian work across the world, but focused on many of the initiatives within Canada and how the changing climate is impacting the type of aid they are providing and the frequency
- Shelina Jessa from Jaffari Community Centre (JCC) spoke about JCC’s sustainability projects, including how they host thousands every night during the month of Ramadan and make waste management a priority, and celebrate the sustainability actions of members of their congregation on their social media platforms
An additional highlight of the event was a panel discussion focusing on the perspective of the next generation of sustainability leaders. Inspired by Faith: Youth Climate Activists featured Rajbalinder Ghatoura (Brampton Environmental Alliance), Atish Periera, and Harleen Sandhu, and was moderated by Green Ummah’s Aadil Nathani. The panelists discussed important topics such as the need for more diverse voices in the sustainability space, and how the impacts of climate change impacted the most vulnerable populations around the world.
|Youth panel discussion|
At the end of the presentations, attendees were able to tour the beautiful Jaffari Community Centre, a 161,000 square foot facility designed with a full double-gym, a sizable congregation area, classrooms, banquet halls and fitness facilities. The JCC Eco Team has been featured in multiple media outlets, including the Toronto Star, and has hosted numerous tours and workshops for faith groups across the Greater Toronto Area to help others implement many of the sustainability initiatives that JCC continues to successfully deliver in their facility.
The Faith & the Common Good and EnviroMuslims teams are committed to climate action. Stay tuned for information in 2023 as we continue the Faiths4Climate Conversations series.