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Promoting Intercultural Harmony

Surrey, Vancouver, May 10, 2010
Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association

A recent poll by Angus Reid concerning public attitude towards a number of religions is quite an eye opener. The survey asked 1,000 Canadians about their favourable /unfavourable reaction to some of the mainstream religions in Canada. Christianity received the highest favourable score at 72%. It was followed by Buddhism at 57% and Judaism at 53%. Islam had the lowest favourable rating at 28%. Sikhism did slightly better at 30%. It indicates that both Islam and Sikhism need to do a lot of work in order to improve their image here in Canada.

Religions can and do play a very important role in bringing diverse groups together. They contribute greatly to creating intercultural harmony. Most of the religions have a great deal in common. Betterment of humanity appears to be at the core of nearly every religion. Unfortunately, some religions get a bad rap and perceptions-true or false - are hard to go away. In this context, a recent interfaith dialogue organized jointly by the Richmond Civic Engagement Network and the City of Richmond was commendable.

The organizers had invited representatives from four major religious groups in Richmond to share their views with each other and the audience. As a participant in this process, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It certainly made a considerable addition to my knowledge base. As a result of this forum, I came away with much better awareness about different faiths. Forums like these go a long way in creating more intercultural awareness and harmony.

In this context, it is very encouraging to note that Richmond Multicultural Concerns Society (RMCS) in co-operation with the Ministry of Citizens Services and Multiculturalism (Multiculturalism and Inclusive Communities Office) is embarking on an Inter-Faith Bridging Project. For more information about this project your readers should feel free to call RMCS at 604-279-7160.

The main objective of the Inter-Faith Bridging project will be to create more awareness and understanding about three of the major religions-Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. Suitable resource people well versed in these faiths will be invited to share their expertise with the attendees. Every attempt will be made to dispel myths and misperceptions about these faiths. Here it may be appropriate to mention that RMCS has been working actively in Richmond for the past 25 years in promoting intercultural harmony. Furthermore, it provides a variety of other services to empower immigrants new and old in integrating well into the community.

Canada is home to a diverse group of people representing more than 200 communities from around the globe. Our policy of inclusion and acceptance is commendable. Communities like Richmond are great models of multiculturalism and intercultural harmony. Hopefully, Projects like these will go a long way in creating a positive perception about different faiths.

(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist. He is chairperson of the South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence)



Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association . He is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist in British Columbia ,Canada.