News Story

Food and Faith: World Interfaith Harmony Week Celebrations

Food and faith were the focus of several World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) celebrations that took place across Canada in the first week of February 2024. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participated, organized and worked alongside other faith communities to mark this annual celebration.

WIHW was unanimously adopted by the United Nations in 2010 to “provide a focal point from which all people of goodwill can recognize that the common values they hold far outweigh the differences they have, and thus provide a strong dosage of peace and harmony to their communities” (

Halifax Interfaith Conversation on Food and Faith

To mark WIHW in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Latter-day Saint John MacLennan was invited to participate in a panel discussion hosted by the Halifax Public Library called "An Interfaith Conversation on Food and Faith." Other panellists were Ajay Maini, general secretary of the Halifax Hindu Temple; Sophie Tiessen-Eigbike, Mennonite community; and Judy Johnson, director of Brahma Kumaris Atlantic Canada. Panellists responded to questions about the place of food in religious traditions and the tenets of their faith.

Johnson said, "Exploring our unique relationship with food was a highlight for me to learn about how others see food and use food in sacred ways."

Other Halifax area events included a communal showcase of the city’s spiritual diversity, which was held at the Halifax Public Library. It was an opportunity for participants to sing, dance and watch performances from a variety of spiritual choirs.

Janet MacLennan hosted an online conversation with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The event included participation from Rick Cartier, Church Educational System regional director and counsellor in the Dartmouth Ward bishopric, and Irene Hirtle, Dartmouth Nova Scotia Stake Relief Society president. Questions about the difference between Latter-day Saint temples and chapels, worldwide Latter-day Saint humanitarian efforts, and the role of women in the Church were addressed.

Interfaith Harmony Halifax (IHH) was established in 2013 to foster interfaith awareness, understanding, appreciation, respect, diversity, inclusion and peace. IHH is composed of volunteers who come from various walks of life and hold diverse beliefs.

Janet MacLennan noted that the Church has actively participated in WIHW events every year since 2016. She said, “All of this involvement has helped raise awareness and understanding about the Church, its people and its doctrines.”

Calgary Service Project to Assemble Hygiene Kits and Snack Packs

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek opened Calgary WIHW events at Calgary City Hall, where she welcomed the Calgary Interfaith Council and friends to help assemble hygiene kits and snack packs for the unhoused. Volunteers from a variety of religious and nonreligious backgrounds participated.

Donations for the kits were requested through and the Nextdoor app. Individuals and faith communities donated from the City of Calgary and surrounding towns, including Airdrie, Chestermere, Cochrane, High River and Okotoks.

Groups of friends and neighbours held parties to collect donations. One local family decided to do a JustServe January project, so they independently made and donated 26 hygiene kits. Other donations included hats, gloves, blankets and underwear.

The Salvation Army Outreach Team spoke about their responsibility for delivering these necessities and setting up warming tents for the unhoused. They received over 185 kits and 80 snack packs from the event and had enough additional donated items to make 200 more kits.

Mikaela McLean of the Outreach Team said, “We have a lot of people struggling right now, just with the way things are going in the world. So for us to come together and be able to provide people with the things they need just to be human is an important thing for us to do.”

Calgary Congregation Hosts Interfaith Potluck

The Calgary Alberta Fish Creek Stake of the Church hosted an event called “Strangers to Neighbours Interfaith Potluck.” Participants were invited to bring a favourite food to share.

As people arrived at the event, hosts invited them to sit at a table with others who were not of their faith or background. Participants were invited to discuss two questions: (1) What is one gift your faith brings to the interfaith community? (2) What is one thing you admire about another faith community? Anglican, Baha’i, Buddhist, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Indigenous, Mennonite, Muslim, Sikh and United Church faith communities were some of those represented.

Pastor Wallace Bornhuse of the All Saints Lutheran Church emceed the evening after President Brad Stevens of the Calgary Alberta Fish Creek Stake welcomed participants. A Latter-day Saint children’s choir sang “I Am a Child of God.”

Kerrie Davis, Calgary JustServe specialist, said, “We had a wonderful evening of food and conversation. Over 150 people braved the winter storm to come out and enjoy each other’s company.”

Living Peaceably Together

WIHW reaffirms that “mutual understanding and inter-religious dialogue constitute important dimensions of a culture of peace” ( Events across Canada highlight ways in which people can spread messages of interfaith harmony and goodwill.

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said he is “convinced we can all live together peaceably as we love God and follow the ‘Golden Rule’ — treating others as we ourselves want to be treated.” He added that despite “misinformation, unfounded accusations, and societal divisions, [believers] can overcome such prejudice and ignorance with love and patience” (“An Apostle of Jesus Christ’s Invitation for World Interfaith Harmony Week”).

Contributed by Dave Veinot.

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