Buddhism beliefs

Book explores Manitoba beliefs

Ray Dirks and Manju Lohda come from different worlds. Dirks is a Mennonite Christian born in Abbotsford, British Columbia, who moved to Winnipeg in 1985, and Lohda is Hindu, born in India before immigrating to Canada about 30 years ago.

But these different perspectives make the couple ideal co-authors of their new book. A world of faith and spirituality: yours, mine, theirs and Ours. The book explores the diverse beliefs of Manitoba’s many cultures.

“Whether you are a person of faith or you are not a person of faith, the reality is that there are still people here who follow beliefs, and among the immigrants and refugees who come here, for a percentage even higher, faith is very important,” Dirks said.

With many different worlds sharing the same space, the same atmosphere, Dirks and Lohda embarked on a mission of interfaith understanding.

“I think it’s important for us to get to know each other,” Dirks said. “That doesn’t mean we have to agree or believe the same. But we should agree to get to know each other.

Lohda said she believes greater understanding will help people of all faiths live together more harmoniously.

“We can appreciate each other, rather than imagining and thinking negative things here and there. We can know that they are also people of good will, who want to live in peace with others. Basically, universally, we all think our universal thoughts: don’t hurt others; do not steal; do not lie. It’s common to everything,” she says.

The two authors, who received the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Advancement of Interfaith Understanding for past collaboration, received a grant to write the book from the Winnipeg Foundation six years ago and have been working on it ever since.

They compiled interviews and photos, covering a wide range of religions, including Native Spirituality, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Unitarian Universalism, Yazidi and Falun Dafa.

Speaking with people from such a diverse range of faiths is not something everyone can do, and Lohda is aware of this privilege.

“I’m a much richer person than I’ve ever been,” she said. “When I met all these people, I learned so much more. I was biased myself; we all have some kind of bias. And the best way to get rid of that is to really meet people and tell them about who they are and what they do.

Dirks said the book begins with Indigenous spirituality, as an acknowledgment of Manitoba’s first peoples. He thanked elder Dave Courchene, who died in December 2021, for his many contributions to the book, including the opening words of the book.

The book will be officially launched at the Canadian Mennonite University Chapel on June 9 at 7:30 p.m. The event is free and the book costs $35.

Cody Sellar

Cody Sellar
Community journalist

Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for Free Press Community Review West. He’s a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, detective, lazy man, book reader and lover of concise biographies. Email him at [email protected] or call him at 204-697-7206.