About Us


​In an increasingly diverse world, religious literacy is essential for understanding our colleagues, neighbours, communities and even the evening news.

For over 20 years, Encounter has helped people, organizations and communities explore what it means to become religiously literate and enhance their understanding of each other and their world. Encounter offers truly unique experiences, meaningful conversations, and entertaining and insightful content.  

Taught from a non-sectarian perspective, Encounter programs are respectful and welcoming for all.

We Are Grateful For Your Support

A donation to Encounter World Religions supports our work towards nurturing religiously literate and inclusive communities.

We are grateful for your support.


Who We Serve


We offer a full range of programs and we’re happy to develop a customized program to meet your needs. 

Businesses and nonprofit organizations seeking diversity training for their teams 

Municipalities and social services who want to enhance their knowledge of the communities they serve

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 engaging and informative speakers

Congregations that want to learn about their neighbours and reflect on humanity's spiritual traditions

Interfaith and intercultural event organizers seeking a keynote speaker

Individuals who want to learn, explore, or simply see new things and encounter new cultures

Who We Are

Executive Director - Keynote Speaker - Professor

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. Each year Brian speaks to thousands of people about religious diversity.


Over his 20 years with Encounter, Brian has consulted on religious diversity and religious literacy to police, health care, and for-profit organizations, including the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, 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, check out our blog at ReligionsGeek.com or follow Brian on twitter @ReligionsGeek.

Executive Director

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Listen to Brian's interview with CBC's Gill Deacon on Here & Now

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Karen McKay is Encounter’s Managing Director with special focus on Marketing and Communications. 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.

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

Our Clients and Partners

We are honoured to work with the following organizations. 

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Free Resources

Islam in the Welcoming Workplace: A Guide for Inclusive Relationships

Sign-up below and download our free resource "Islam in the Welcoming Workplace"!

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Thank you for signing up! Click here to download "Islam in the Welcoming Workplace"!

Happy Holidays: A Guide to Winter Holidays

Sign-up below and download our free resource "Happy Holidays: A Guide to Winter Holidays"!

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Thank you for signing up! Click here to download "Happy Holidays: A Guide to Winter Holidays".

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