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Peace Labyrinth atop SFU’s Burnaby campus

Coinciding with the dawning of the summer solstice, a free public ceremony with spoken word, performing artists and candlelight will open a Peace Labyrinth atop SFU’s Burnaby campus on June 21 at 7 p.m.

The ceremony, which celebrates spiritual exploration and engagement in a shared journey with others, will take place at the field adjacent to Strand Hall at the east end of the campus.  

This will be a pilot location for the labyrinth, an ancient archetype of a single pathway with circular patterns, which is still in the process of being mowed into turf.

Working with SFU Facilities Services and the assistance of myriad people through the Labyrinth Society, Ellen Vaillancourt conceived the idea and lobbied for a Peace Labyrinth in a highly visible location on campus.

The coordinator of the SFU Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures and an avid traveller, Vaillancourt says: “The seed of thought came to me in the fall of 2010 after a trip to France. I remember envisioning it clearly, driving up our ring road one morning on my way to work.

“My dream coming true four years later means that if you remember who you are and become aware of the signs or the crumbs along the path, no matter what adversity you face, the universe will provide. I believe we all have the opportunity to be transformed by journey and make a positive difference.”

Two SFU researchers and Douglas Todd, an award winning Vancouver Sun religion and ethics writer, agree that a university campus is a fitting location for a path that fosters human spiritual and secular growth.

Todd says: "The labyrinth is an excellent example of one of the meaningful and hopeful ways that a psycho-spiritual element can be integrated into a diverse campus and a pluralistic community.” Todd was the first recipient of SFU’s Jack and Doris Shadbolt fellowship in the humanities in 2006.

Celeste Snowber, an SFU Faculty of Education associate professor, adds: "Too much of our lives have been focused on engaging as good human doings rather than human beings. We have too easily lost the connection between being and doing. The labyrinth throughout the ages is an invitation to slow down. It invites us as humans to be with ourselves and with one another in a way that opens up a deeper connection to the world and ourselves. Here is an opening for an inquiry, which includes body, mind and heart to bring peace and engagement from the inside out.”

And SFU historian Elise Chenier notes: “The conditions of the world around us, near and far, matter greatly to who we are and what we shall become. But if they’re not right in front of our face or on our Facebook feed we can too easily be disconnected.”

“Places and spaces like the Peace Labyrinth will facilitate the kind of ‘be-in’ experience that is sometimes missing from our day-to-day lives. They invite us to be in ourselves as a means to connect to the world beyond us. I hope SFU’s Peace Labyrinth becomes one of the most popular spaces on campus.”


What: SFU Peace Labyrinth opening. The evening will feature a number of speakers, spoken word, and a labyrinth meditation by candlelight. Featured are performing artists, Amir Koushkani, along with Seemi Ghazi, Hussein Janmohamed, Meharoona Ghani, and SFU MA student Sheinagh Anderson.

The event will conclude with a Sun Salutation.

The following is the schedule of events:
-7:00 p.m. Dancing between Worlds: Opening to Inquiry
-7:30 p.m. opening ceremony 
-SFU official welcome
-Navigating Pathways to Peace and Wellness
-Building Communities of Compassion
-Spoken Word: Rumi and the Labyrinth
-Sacred Sites and Cultural Heritage
-Words of Traditional Wisdom

8:40 to 9:30 p.m. Candle light with labyrinth walk
Featuring performing artists Amir Koushkani, Seemi Ghazi and Hussein Jammohamed

9:45 p.m. Sun Salutation

Reservations are appreciated @

When: Starts at 7 p.m.

Where: SFU Burnaby Mountain, Strand Hall Field (near Cornerstone & bus loop)

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.

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