Additional Resource

“Sacred Spaces in a Secular World” Panellists

Samaa Elibyari

Samaa Elibyari is a long-time member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women. She has been and continues to be an activist with Arab and Muslim organizations since her arrival in Montreal in 1973. Elibyari was raised in a conservative Muslim family and from a young age benefitted from exposure to strong Islamic traditions and effervescent national aspirations in the time of President Nasser, as well as Western progressive influences. She was schooled at the French Lycée of Heliopolis, Cairo, later named Lycée La Liberté, and did graduate studies at the American University in Cairo and the American University of Beirut. She also studied at McGill University, but instead of a degree, she came out with a husband, the late professor of mathematics Basil Rattray. From 1997 to 2012, she presented Caravan, a weekly bilingual radio program broadcast on CKUT Community/Campus Radio McGill. This year she represented the Canadian Council of Muslim Women at the World People Social Forum in Tunis and at the Quebec National Assembly to discuss Bill 59.

Dr. Victor Goldbloom

A pediatrician, provincial politician and pioneer of interfaith dialogue, Victor Goldbloom has led a rich and varied life. Deeply committed to social issues, Dr. Goldbloom has been dedicated to reconciling French and English, federalists and sovereigntists, Christians and Jews. His understanding of public health, the environment and minority communities is unparalleled. Born in Montreal, Goldbloom received his medical degree from McGill University in 1945. A practising pediatrician for many years, in 1962 he entered public life as governor of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Quebec and in 1966 was elected to the Quebec legislature. In 1970 he became the first member of Quebec’s Jewish community to serve in the provincial cabinet, under Premier Robert Bourassa. A minister of the Quebec National Assembly until 1979, Goldbloom served as Quebec’s first environment minister and later as municipal affairs minister. He was also the minister responsible for the Olympics Installations Board. In the early 1990s he became Canada’s commissioner of official languages. He recently finished his memoirs, Building Bridges, a collection of personal anecdotes, media coverage of his impressive career and transcriptions of two historic speeches. Dr Goldbloom is known for his remarkable lifelong commitment to dialogue.

Professor David Holland

David Holland serves as associate professor of North American Religious History at Harvard Divinity School. His work has appeared in the New England Quarterly, Gender and History and Law and History Review. His first book, Sacred Borders: Continuing Revelation and Canonical Restraint in Early America, was published by Oxford University Press in 2011. In that same year, David was named Nevada Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation. He is now completing a comparative study of Mary Baker Eddy and Ellen White, the founders of Christian Science and Seventh-day Adventism, to appear from Yale University Press.

Reverend Jean-Daniel Williams

Rev. Williams is the Anglican-United Chaplain at McGill University. He has a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and a master of divinity from Yale. He was very involved in campus ministry at both schools. He is the youth and young adult co-ordinator for the Montréal-Ottawa Conference of the United Church of Canada. He is a doctoral student in practical theology at the University of Montreal, where he is trying to prove that Jesus truly meant what He said when He preached, “Suffer little children to come unto me” (Matthew 19:14).

Professor Torrance Kirby, Moderator

In 1988 Dr. Kirby received a PhD in modern history from Oxford University for his thesis on the political theology of Richard Hooker. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classics (Greek philosophy and literature) from King’s College and Dalhousie University, respectively. Since 1997 he has been a professor of ecclesiastical history at McGill University. Since June 2011 he has been collaborating with colleagues at McGill, Warwick and University of British Columbia on a research project funded by an SSHRC Insight Development Grant. The project is titled “Forms of Conversion: Transformation in Europe and Its World, 1500–1700.” His current research focuses on the open-air pulpit situated in the precincts of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, commonly known as “Paul’s Cross,” one of the most influential of all public venues in early-modern England. In November 2008 he was appointed director of the McGill Centre for Research on Religion (CREOR).

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