WINNIPEG - Faith leaders who gather in Winnipeg for an international summit just ahead of the G8 and G20 meetings in Ontario plan to discuss human rights and religious freedoms and the elimination of poverty.

Some 80 religious leaders from around the world will meet June 21-23 for the World Religions Summit, the first time Canada has hosted the event.

Since 2005, faith leaders from around the globe have met to parallel the G8 leaders' summits, organizers said on their website. The faith leaders gather to challenge the G8 nations to live up to commitments made to the world's most poor and vulnerable citizens. They also try to look to the future in ways that will bring about compassion and hope.

A major topic during the upcoming conference will be an exploration of religious freedom and fundamental human rights through the lens of the millennium goals that the G8 Interfaith Leaders Summit will address: the elimination of poverty, creating a sustainable environment and establishing peace and security.

Speakers during the conference will include Canadian Senator Romeo Dallaire, whose warning about an impending Rwandan genocide was largely ignored by the world, and Rev. Jim Wallis (USA) of Sojourners magazine and longtime activist for social justice.

Two Manitoba-produced musical expressions of human dignity will also be performed for delegates: Danny Schur’s "Strike!" and Zane Zalis’s oratorio "I Believe," which Dallaire will narrate.

For more information,