What We Do
Mission: Encounter promotes religious literacy and informed understanding of cultural diversity.
Approach: Encounter is an educational organization that blends academic and experiential learning to foster encounters with the four P's of religious communities: their people, places, practices and philosophies.
Who We Serve
Professionals seeking diversity training for themselves or their staff (e.g. police officers, nurses, non-profit and service organizations)
Educators and teachers seeking guest speakers, house of worship tours, or professional development for staff or themselves
Lifelong Learning groups, retiree groups and other organizations that need dynamic and informative speakers
Congregations that want to learn about their neighbours and reflect on humanity's spiritual traditions
Interfaith event organizers seeking a keynote speaker
Individuals who want to learn, explore, or simply see new things and encounter new cultures
Who We Are
Brian Carwana (the "ReligionsGeek") left a business career to pursue a passion for studying religions. Through Encounter, Brian acquired a practical education by listening to religious leaders, observing worship, and visiting houses of worship. In addition, he has a Masters in Religion and Culture and a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto where he studied religion and politics. Brian has consulted on religious diversity and religious literacy to police, health care, and other organizations and has written articles for the Interfaith Observer, the Canadian Interfaith Conversation, and other outlets. Religion remains for Brian one of the most interesting facets of life for understanding global politics, social movements, workplace cohesion, or individual lives. (For more, visit ReligionsGeek.com or follow Brian on twitter @ReligionsGeek).
Listen to Brian's interview with CBC's Gill Deacon on Here & Now
Karen McKay is Encounter’s Marketing Director. She brings a wealth of experience to the position, working previously with the Canadian Unitarian Council, as well as not-for-profits whose primary focus was ensuring equity and inclusion, in the social services and healthcare sectors. She is currently enrolled in the Senior Leadership and Management in the Not-For-Profit Sector program through Conestoga College.
Kayla Reichmann is a graduate student studying International Relations at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. She assists Encounter with its marketing and outreach efforts. As the marketing and outreach intern she has been able to learn and develop skills in business, marketing, and communication. Her passion for promoting multiculturalism, inclusiveness, and diversity has made her a valuable asset to the organization.
Marketing and Outreach Intern 2021
JW Windland was a comparative mythologist who founded Encounter, which was recognized by the Parliament of World Religions as a "Gift Of Service To The World."
JW spent forty years studying, teaching and in first-hand encounter with varied religious traditions. In addition to academic studies, JW developed genuine friendships with practitioners, joined in their rituals and introduced thousands of people to the diverse communities in the North American mosaic. He lectured internationally to universities, religious groups, and service and professional organizations.
He was a visionary who tried and succeeded in making a difference. We miss him but carry on the work he started with many fond memories
Founder 1949 - 2014