2010 G8 Religious Leaders Summit

Religious leaders from diverse faiths are gathering once again before the G8 meeting of political leaders which this time will be held on 25-27 June in Canada. In this occasion the religious leaders will send a unified message to the political leaders calling them to do their best for achieving the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the United Nations the year 2000.

Up to 100 religious leaders from diverse faiths including Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Islam, Indigenous Spirituality and Shinto traditions will gather in Winnipeg in June 21-23, 2010 at the invitation of Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President & Vice-Chancellor, University of Winnipeg and the Canadian Council of Churches

It is the first time Canada will host the G8 Religious Leaders Summit which, for the past five years, has been organized to complement the meeting of G8 political leaders. G8 leaders are meeting in Huntsville, Ontario, from June 25-27, 2010.

This high profile religious leaders from around the world will gather at The University of Winnipeg from June 21- June 23 to listen and report to one another – but most importantly collaborate on sending a unified message to government leaders of the G8/G20 nations.

The message will press governments to remain true to the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) ratified by the 192 member states of the U.N. ten years ago. The goals aim to halve global poverty by 2015. The G8 nations – including Canada – pledged assistance in achieving the goals, but are well behind in meeting the promised deadline.

Faith leaders are also challenging each other to “not remain silent” on the MDGs, said Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton, Chair of the Interfaith Partnership and General Secretary of the Canadian Council of Churches.

“Society is growing ever more ambivalent about the role and influence of the world’s faiths and their leaders. This is ultimately an exercise in proclaiming what we believe together, and acting on it together,” added Hamilton.

CALL FOR LEADERSHIP

Virtually all of the world’s major faith traditions hold to some form of the Golden Rule: treat your neighbour as yourself. Together, the world’s faith traditions will issue a “Call for inspired leadership and action,” said Hamilton.

The interfaith summit will feature some high profile speakers: Canadian Senator Romeo Dallaire, whose global warning about an impending Rwandan genocide was largely ignored; Rev. Jim Wallis (USA) of Sojourners magazine and long time activist for social justice; Rwandan Dr. Andre Karamaga, President of the All Africa Conference of Churches, H.E. Sheikh Shaban Mubaje, Grand Mufti of Uganda, and John McArthur (USA), CEO of Millennium Promise, an international non-profit organization solely committed to supporting the achievement of the MDGs.

There will be two concurrent events on opening day: religious communicators will meet to hear speakers and discuss how current issues of faith are represented in the popular media; a human rights and religious freedom themed event will address these issues from the perspective of poverty, the environment and peace and security.

First Nations representatives will welcome guests to the host facility at the University of Winnipeg, which sits on Treaty 1 land, and by University of Winnipeg President Dr. Lloyd Axworthy. Numerous side events including music and musical theatre are planned to represent the theme with added culture and color.

(Note prepared by Mussie Hailu, Chairman of the Board, Interfaith Peace Building Initiative, Ethiopia, Coalition member organization)