Margaret Atwood, Rev. Dr. James Lawson Lead the Next Lineup: 17 New Luminaries Announced to Speak at the 2018 PoWR in Toronto

August 31, 2018

The 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions welcomes 17 new luminaries as Voices of PoWR, bringing wisdom, advocacy, and progressive change to the world and to the 7th Parliament this November 1 – 7 in Toronto, Canada.
Millions know and love the speakers in this heavyweight list of history makers. The Parliament is delighted to be joined by peacemakers whose resolute commitment changed the direction of the world and by rising stars encouraging the dynamic and inclusive movement shaping today. These are individuals of faith and conscience—calling for a better world for all. We welcome their profound offering of intersectionality, expertise, critical mass, and critical thinking to the norms we wish to establish.
Want to see these world-changers in person, register for the 2018 Parliament today!

Learn More About the Voices of PoWR Speakers at the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions


“I think calling it climate change is rather limiting.
I would rather call it the everything change.”
– Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and spent the earlier part of her youth in the woods for two thirds of every year. Her novels include The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace — both of which have recently been serialized for streaming — The Blind Assassin (which won the Booker Prize in 2000), The MaddAddam Trilogy, The Heart Goes Last, and Hag-Seed, a novel re-visiting of The Tempest. Her most recent collection of poetry is The Door. Her non-fiction works include Survival, her 1972 attempt to demonstrate that Canadian literature did — at that time – exist, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, and A Writer on Writing.
The Parliament welcomes Canadian author Margaret Atwood to the stage this November for Women and Climate Change: A Conversation Between Margaret Atwood & Lucy Cummings, Monday, November 5. 
Read more about Margaret Atwood >>
Photo by Liam Sharp


General Romeo Dallaire
Lieutenant-General (ret) The Honorable Roméo A. Dallaire is founder of the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, a global partnership with the mission to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers. A celebrated advocate for human rights, General Dallaire is also a respected author, government and UN advisor, and former Canadian Senator. 
General Roméo Dallaire will speak at End Humanity’s Greatest Threat: The Moral, Medical, Spiritual, Legal, Practical Response to Nuclear Weapons, Monday, November 5, he will also participate in A Dialogue with Kim Campbell, Tuesday, November 6.
Read more about General Romeo Dallaire >>


Lucy Cummings
Lucy Cummings is the Executive Director of Faith & the Common Good, a national, interfaith, charitable network dedicated to creating more sustainable communities. Through education and capacity building, FCG’s programming seeks to harness the power of Canada’s diverse faith communities to encourage: community greening & regeneration; interfaith climate justice, ecosystem and water protection alliances; and increased support for climate vulnerable neighbors.
Lucy Cummings will join Margaret Atwood in the session, Women and Climate Change: A Conversation Between Margaret Atwood & Lucy Cummings, Monday, November 5 and will speak at Spirited Women as Agents of Change on Climate, Tuesday, November 6.
Read more about Lucy Cummings >>


Irwin Cotler
Irwin Cotler is the Chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, an Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, and longtime Member of Parliament.
This author and international human rights lawyer will speak on human rights, equality, justice, and human flourishing across cultural and geopolitical realities in a major forum tentatively scheduled for Monday, November 5.
Read more about Irwin Cotler >>


Mariatu Kamara
Mariatu Kamara is the founder of the Mariatu Foundation, which seeks to provide refuge and healing for women and children in her native Sierra Leone. She is UNICEF Canada’s Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict and is a survivor of the civil conflict in Sierra Leone.
Mariatu Kamara will join us at the Countering War, Hate and Violence Assembly, Tuesday, November 6.
Read more about Mariatu Kamara >>


Davi Kopenawa Yanomami
Davi Kopenawa Yanomami is a Yanomami shaman and Portuguese-speaking spokesperson for the Yanomami Indians in Brazil. He became known for his advocacy regarding tribal issues and Amazon rainforest conservation when the tribal rights organization Survival International invited him to accept the Right Livelihood Award on its behalf in 1989. 
This motivated advocate will speak at the Climate Action Assembly, Sunday, November 4.
Read more about Davi Kopenawa Yanomami >>


Maude Barlow
Maude Barlow is a Canadian author and activist. She is the National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, a citizens’ advocacy organization with members and chapters across Canada. She is also the co-founder of the Blue Planet Project, which works internationally for the human right to water.
Maude Barlow will be speaking on The Human-Environment Relationship, Monday, November 5.
Read more about Maude Barlow >>


Dr. James Orbinski
Dr. James Orbinski is a Canadian physician, humanitarian activist, author and leading scholar in global health.
Through his extensive field work with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), including being Head of Mission during the 1994 Rwandan genocide, James Orbinski witnessed the horrors of violence and the heroism of those opposing it.
James Orbinski will reflect on his many years of working in battlefields and the role of love and compassion in healing humanity during his session Finding Compassion/Love in Hate, War and Violence, Saturday, November 3.
Read more about Dr. James Orbinski >>


Bishop Dr. Barbara Lewis King
Bishop Dr. Barbara Lewis King, affectionately called “Dr. Barbara,” is the Founder Minister/World Spiritual Leader of Hillside International Truth Center, Inc., a New Thought, inclusive, healing ministry in Atlanta, Georgia. She was a featured speaker at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah.
As one of our major speakers, Dr. Barbara will join us Monday, November 5 at Re-Examining Martin Luther King Jr.’s World House, a workshop on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?
Read more about Bishop Dr. Barbara Lewis King >>


“All the lessons of psychiatry, psychology, social work, indeed culture, have taught us over
the last hundred years that it is the acceptance of differences, not the search for similarities
which enables people to relate to each other in their personal or family lives.”
– Dr. John Ralston Saul

Dr. John Ralston Saul
Dr. John Ralston Saul is an award-winning essayist and novelist. A long-time champion of freedom of expression, he was elected President of PEN International in October 2009 until October 2015.
Declared a “prophet” by TIME magazine, Dr. John Ralston Saul will enlighten us with his major speaker session, Contemporary Citizen Engagement and Democracy, Friday, November 2. His most recent work, The Comeback (Le Grand Retour) is an examination of the remarkable resurgence to power of Indigenous peoples in Canada which has greatly influenced the national conversation on these issues.
Read more about Dr. John Ralston Saul >>

Kiran Bali, MBE, JP
Kiran Bali is a UK Magistrate and the Global Chair of the United Religions Initiative. As a Hindu scholar she teaches students of all backgrounds and ages.  As a grassroots leader, she has worked to tackle climate change and to empower women.
For her voluntary community cohesion impact, Kiran Bali was honored by HM Queen Elizabeth II and has received a number of international awards for her global leadership. Kiran Bali will be speaking at the Women’s Dignity Assembly, Saturday, November 3 and The Future of Religion session, Sunday, November 4.
Read more about Kiran Bali >>

Rawaad Mahyub
Rawaad Mahyub is the CEO of A Common Word Among the Youth (ACWAY), a global youth movement delivering local activities to promote inter-religious and inter-cultural peace and understanding.
Working in the field of social development for 15 years, with a focus on leadership projects for youth promoting change through civic activism, Rawaad Mahyub is pioneering the global youth movement and is one of the major speakers at the session Youth Voices for Change: Arts, Academia & Activism, Friday, November 2.
Read more about Rawaad Mahyub >>

“I believe that the thought that women together can change the world is emerging into
the minds and hearts of many of us, and that the vessel for personal and planetary evolution
is the circle with a spiritual center.”
– Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen

Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen
Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen is a psychiatrist, Jungian analyst, internationally known author of thirteen influential books in eighty-five foreign translations; a Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and retired clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco.
Internationally known as an advocate for women’s circles with a sacred center and her advocacy for a UN Fifth World Conference on Women, this prolific author’s books are used as college and university texts in gender studies, women’s psychology, mythology, spirituality, east-west philosophy, and psychology courses.
Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen will speak at three programs: Women’s Coalitions Addressing Global Problems; She of a Thousand Names….The Great Mother and More; and Wa’akwa Kerlathenhs We Rise Together: Sacred Circles Healing and Empowering Women and Girls, Thursday, November 1, Friday, November 2, and Saturday, November 3.
Read more about Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen >>

Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr.
Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr. is widely recognized as the pioneer of nonviolence in the American Civil Liberties Movement. He is an activist, minister, and a scholar of the Bible, as well as a living icon embodying the power of nonviolence in securing justice and peace.
A long-time advocate for nonviolence, Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr. was key in the Civil Rights Movement along with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who described Reverend James M. Lawson, Jr. as “the leading theorist and strategist of nonviolence in the world.” Inspired by Mohandas Gandhi’s nonviolent methods in India, in the 1950s, Rev. Lawson led revolutionary sit-in workshops in Nashville, TN.  
This American activist and leader in the Civil Rights Movement will speak at Nonviolence in a Violent World: The Sweeping, Surprising Effectiveness of King and Gandhi, Monday, November 5 and at the Countering War, Hate & Violence Assembly, Tuesday, November 6.
Read more about Rev. James M. Lawson, Jr. >>

Valarie Kaur
Valarie Kaur is a seasoned civil rights activist, award-winning filmmaker, lawyer, faith leader, and founder of the Revolutionary Love Project™.
Whether inside supermax prisons, on the military base at Guantanamo, or at sites of mass shootings, Valarie Kaur identified a surprising key element for social change: the ethic of love.
Valarie’s keynote address at the Inaugural Women’s Assembly in 2015 inspired her to create the Revolutionary Love Project™ to champion love as a public ethic and wellspring for social action.
Valarie Kaur will join the Parliament via live video address for Faith & Interfaith: From Grassroots to the Globe, Friday, November 2 and via pre-recorded address for the Justice Assembly, Monday, November 5.
Read more about Valarie Kaur >>


Brothers Abhayjeet Singh Sachal and Sukhmeet Singh Sachal travelled to the Arctic in 2016 and learned first hand the effects of climate change on the local community. The experience led them to act by creating the Break The Divide Foundation. Read more about their mission below. The brothers are major speakers for the session Change Agents: Activists on the Frontlines, Saturday, November 3.

Abhayjeet Singh Sachal
Abhayjeet Singh Sachal is a 16-year-old Canadian humanitarian, environmentalist, and activist who believes that engagement in dialogue and conversation can serve to spark change around the world. 
After travelling to the Arctic in 2016 and witnessing the impacts of climate change on Indigenous communities, Abhayjeet Singh Sachal became committed to raising awareness about the realities of climate change. Inspired to create change, he and his brother Sukhmeet Singh Sachal, co-founded Break The Divide Foundation, a non-profit organization that connects youth around the world with one another. 
Read more about Abhayjeet Singh Sachal >>

Sukhmeet Singh Sachal
Sukhmeet Singh Sachal is a 24-year-old humanitarian, public health advocate, and environmental advocate who believes in the recipe of intercultural dialogue in order to promote peace in the world.
Named Starfish Canada’s Top 25 Environmentalists Under 25 for 2018, Sukhmeet co-created Break The Divide with his brother, Abhayjeet, to connect youth in the North to youth in southern Canada to explore the topics of climate change and its effects on mental health.
Read more about Sukhmeet Singh Sachal >>


Parisa Khosravi
Parisa Khosravi is a keynote speaker, strategic adviser, and a multi-award-winning veteran journalist and news executive. Throughout her career as senior vice president for international news gathering, national news gathering, global relations and the first ever ambassador for CNN Worldwide, Parisa directed historic coverage of countless award-winning news stories. Parisa left CNN in 2015.
A proud Iranian-American Zoroastrian with over three decades of experience on the global stage, Parisa Khosravi has first-hand experience working with world leaders, dignitaries and high-ranking officials across the globe in order to open doors to difficult and dangerous parts of the world where freedom of speech is in no way guaranteed. Parisa Khosravi will join us at the opening plenary, The Promise of Inclusion, The Power of Love, Thursday, November 1.
Read more about Parisa Khosravi >>


Land Acknowledgment

The Parliament of the World's Religions acknowledges it is situated on the traditional homelands of the Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi), Hoocąk (Winnebago/Ho’Chunk), Jiwere (Otoe), Nutachi (Missouria), and Baxoje (Iowas); Kiash Matchitiwuk (Menominee); Meshkwahkîha (Meskwaki); Asâkîwaki (Sauk); Myaamiaki (Miami), Waayaahtanwaki (Wea), and Peeyankihšiaki (Piankashaw); Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo); Inoka (Illini Confederacy); Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), and Odawak (Odawa).

PoWR recognizes the region we now call Chicago remains home to a diversity of Indigenous peoples today and this land upon which we walk, live, and play continues to be Indigenous land.

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