Inter-Faith Bridging along the Highway to Heaven
Surrey, Vancouver, Aug. 01, 2010
President, Punjabi Language Education Association
Canada is a blessed country. It is one of the best, if not the best, country in the world. At times, Canadians become overly critical about our own country. In this process we tend to focus more on the negatives rather than the positives this nation of 34 million people has to offer.
Certainly, like any other country in the world we do have problems too. Always there is room for improvement especially when governments are concerned. However, in the overall scheme of things, Canada is far better than many other ountries. We have a very high standard of living.
Canadians are ahead of many other countries so far as environment and sustainability are concerned. Our landscape-the lakes, rivers, mountains and lush green vegetation are envy of many. Canada has an abundance of resources of every kind. It is a democratic and relatively safe country. Our educational system, banking/financial industry and health care are second to none.
Canadians are very well respected worldwide for their caring attitude, gentle manners and humility. Our concept of multiculturalism is a great model for others to follow. More than 200 diverse communities representing every corner of the world call Canada their home. On top of that, right here in Richmond we have our very own Highway to Heaven. More than 20 places of worship representing a variety of faiths adorn our # 5 Road, which has become a major tourist attraction for young and old alike.
In order to take advantage of this local attraction, Richmond Multicultural Concerns Society organized a guided tour of three of the places of worship on July 28 along our Highway to Heaven. It was part of the RMCSs Inter-Faith Bridging Project. More than 200 participants from diverse backgrounds took part in the tour The tour commenced at India Cultural Centre of Canada, home of Gurdwara Nanak Niwas.Thanks to the Gurdwara management, the participants were treated to a delicious complimentary Indo-Canadian vegetarian meal. This was followed by a tour of the facility and talk about Sikhism. From there, the group moved to the AZ-ZAHRAA Islamic Centre next door.
Organizers at the Islamic Centre did an excellent job in providing an insight into Islam. The dedicated volunteers ensured that all of the participants felt welcomed and at ease in this spacious facility. From there, the participants moved to the Vedic Cultural Centre a few meters down the road. There again, the organizers and volunteers spared no effort in making everyone feel welcomed and comfortable. As an added bonus, the group was treated to words of wisdom by Jai Bhagwan Sharma (Swami Chakradhariji) founder acharya of Vedic Cultural Community Centre.
Initiatives like these go along way in removing the artificial barriers and bringing people closer to-gather. They show us that despite our individual differences and beliefs we can respect and appreciate each other. This is what makes Canada such a beautiful, inclusive and welcoming place to live in.
(Balwant Sanghera, a Richmond resident, is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)