History of MBVCA

The Manitoba Buddhist Vihara and Cultural Association (MBVCA) was formally established on 7 March, 1999. However, the origins of the MBVCA is traced back to Dhamma classes conducted by Radhika Abeysekara to a small group of Buddhist children in the early 1990s. This small beginning evolved into the present MBVCA through Radhika’s, and many other Buddhist volunteers’, continued commitment and contributions. 

In the early days, the Vietnamese Buddhist community in Winnipeg gracefully allowed the MBVCA to use their facility located at 650 Burrows Avenue on Sunday evenings for Dhamma classes conducted by volunteer teachers. In addition to regular Dhamma classes, special annual events such as Vesak Celebration were also held at this facility. This arrangement continued for a considerable period of time with the generosity of Vietnamese Buddhist community.

A Vesak program conducted at Vietnamese Buddhist Temple at 650 Burrows Ave, Winnipeg, MB.

In 2005 winter, a major damage happened to the Vietnamese temple building, and MBVCA had to discontinue Dhamma classes during the renovations. The MBVCA had the vision of developing a Theravada Buddhist temple of Sri Lankan tradition from the outset, and this unfortunate situation presented a greater urgency for achieving this goal.  This led to the launching an urgent fundraising campaign, successfully raising initial funds. Simultaneously, a significant grant could be secured from the Winnipeg foundation, mainly thanks to Radhika’s persistent effort. In 2006, MBVCA acquired a building and parking lot at 640 McGee Street to establish a Buddhist Centre to facilitate its expanding activities.  The building, which was originally a warehouse facility of an electric contractor, was developed into a facility with an assembly hall and several class rooms with the volunteer labour and financial support of Community Places Grant program and numerous donors. Then President Rajitha Perera was instrumental in bringing in an entire community of volunteers led by Thomas Perera for this development.  The serene Samadhi Buddha statue that is still prominently featuring in MBVCA temple, was donated at the time of inauguration of 640 McGee facility by the late Dr. Sukhanya Amarasinghe, who was a long time member of Manitoba’s Sri Lankan community but living in Toronto at the time of donation. 

MBVCA facility at 640 McGee St., Winnipeg, MB.

Sunday Dhamma school and other events were conducted at the new facility at 640 McGee Avenue on a regular basis. The MBVCA Dhamma school teaching activities were conducted by lay volunteers. Buddhist monks were invited from other temples in Canada and the USA for special occasions such as Vesak Celebrations. The activities of the MBVCA expanded with a Friday evening meditation program and occasional meditation retreats and Ata Sil (observing eight precepts) programs, which were conducted under the guidance of visiting monks. In addition, MBVCA facilitated Dhamma programs conducted by the monks from Toronto Mahamevna Asapuwa on a regular basis. 

However, the lack of continuous guidance from Sangha was deeply felt.  Thus MBVCA invited Ven. Kottawe Nanada Thero to reside in Winnipeg for an extended duration. Ven. Nanada Thero kindly agreed to spend about one month period in October-November, 2010, to prepare the community to host a monk on a regular basis.  Thereafter a number of Buddhist monks resided in Winnipeg for extended periods on the invitation of the MBVCA. Many community members volunteered to offer residences (Sanghawasa) for the resident monks, as the facility at 640 McGee did not have any living quarters. The monks resided in Winnipeg for extended periods, include:

Ven. Pinikahane Maithree Thero  – November 2010 – January 2011. 

Ven. Dambagasare Chandrasiri Thero – February 2011 –  June 2011

Ven. Bamunugama Shanthawimala Thero – April 2012 – July 2012

Ven. Kotawaye Suseela Thero – January 2016 

In addition, the MBVCA also supported the extended stay of Ven. Yuttadhammo Thero in and around Winnipeg, starting from February 2013.  The first ever ordination ceremony in Manitoba was conducted in the MBVCA temple at McGee St. when Ven. Yuttadhammo Thero ordained an American lay devotee, during his stay in Winnipeg. 

The desire of the community to be guided by a monk on a more permanent basis became a reality when Ven. Mattumagala Chandananda Thero kindly accepted the invitation of the MBVCA to reside in Winnipeg for a two year period from March 2016. Ven. Chandananda was the first monk to spend Vas season at the MBVCA temple, and the first Katina ceremony of the MBVCA was held on November 12, 2016. The MBVCA also organized an overnight chanting of Metta sutta under the guidance of Ven. Chandananda. 

Another major step taken by the MBVCA in this period was to move the temple from 640 McGee St. premises to 112 Cadboro Road, on July 15, 2016. This new premises on a one acre lot enabled accommodating monk residence and assembly hall in one location, greatly simplifying the operations. Again, a major drive, this time spearheaded by Sasanda Nilmalgoda, enabled raising the necessary initial funding. 

Temple at 112 Cadboro Road

After the departure of Ven. Chandananda Thero, Ven. Kotawaye Suseela Thero kindly agreed to give guidance to the MBVCA activities and was instrumental in inviting the current resident monks, Ven. Gigummaduwe Buddhasara Thero, Ven. Opatha Sirirathana Thero, and Ven. Balangoda Sugathasiri Thero. On June 29, 2019, the temple was moved to its current location, 88 Cadboro Rd, as this location offered a building better suited for the MBVCA temple operations, and future expansions. The temple premises is now complete with a Pagoda, constructed by several devoted volunteers, and a Bodhi tree.