Sunday, February 26, 2017

New solidarity after tragic events

Ros and Richard Weeks, Ottawa

In the aftermath of the terrible event at the Grand Mosque on January 29, we have been moved by the ways in which Canadians have come together to offer support to all those most affected. The IofC website gives details of what our colleagues in Quebec City have done to cement their many years of trust-building and to stay close to their friends from that mosque. We want to report on an event from last fall, which made a deep impact on us and on the city of Ottawa.

On November 19th, 2016, we took part in a most wonderful gathering, very much in the spirit of IofC, at the local synagogue a few minutes’ walk from our home. It was an open event to which the public from Ottawa was invited, to show solidarity as a community in the wake of a horrible series of vandalizations and hate graffiti – to this synagogue, a mosque and a church - which shook the city. We were a huge crowd packed into the spacious temple, welcomed graciously by the Rabbis and members of the congregation. It was a Saturday, Shabbat, and therefore no cameras or recording equipment were allowed. But none of us who attended will ever forget the event, and the amazing spirit of oneness, across all differences. The leaders of all the main faith groups, the mayor, and civic and provincial leaders all spoke from the heart.

The love and respect were palpable and there were many bursts of applause. It was a powerful act of healing, with a strong challenge to each one to take this spirit with us into our everyday lives. We have never felt more proud of our city, or of the privilege of living here. The following statement was circulated, and we all stood and read it aloud together:

We gather together as a united community to express in words what we feel in our hearts. Painful events of the past week have proven a number of important points: Words of concern and empathy are more powerful than graffiti; Expressions of love are more potent than expressions of hate; The power of togetherness is stronger than the power of divisiveness; A community standing together negates evil intentions; Words of comfort heal the wounds of verbal assault; A common commitment to everyone prevents an attack on anyone; We are strong because we are resolute in our togetherness; We are even stronger because we are cooperative in our diversity; We gather to focus on the good that inheres in all of us; We gather to extol the mosaic that defines who we are; We gather to celebrate the beauty of our community; We gather to express our gratitude for the wonderful people who comprise this great city, our Nation's Capital; We gather to be thankful for living in this caring country, Canada. We resolve, individually and collectively, to do all within our power to assure that this is the Canada that our children and theirs will inherit. Amen.


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