Community stands together in face of tragedy

We must continueto build connections, increase understanding and stand firm in the face of intolerance

This community, like many others across Canada and indeed around the world, rallied when the sheer magnitude of the Syrian refugee crisis came to light.

People from different faith groups came together – such as Oak Bay United Church Minister Michelle Slater, who worked with Imam Ismail Nur from the Masjid Al-Iman mosque and St. Aidan’s United Church members – as did groups from St. Philip Anglican Church, the University of Victoria and private residents. They came together with a single goal: to help.

Beyond the current refugee crisis, as a community and country, we also pride ourselves on being welcoming to all faiths and cultures.

Admittedly, it wasn’t always so. We have our own less-than-favourable history in our relations with First Nations and immigrant groups, the long-standing effects of which we are still working through.

But we have made strides and continue to do so as the world becomes ever smaller and its cultures more fully entwined.

And so, when news of Sunday’s mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque spread across the country, people rallied in support of our Muslim community.

While people mourned the tragedy in Quebec – where a man’s hatred could be turned so viciously on individuals in a peaceful place of worship –  many also turned concerned eyes toward the United States. There, President Donald Trump seems to be leading that country – our neighbour – toward a divisive, intolerant future based on specious arguments and questionable “truths.”

We must continue here and abroad to build connections between people and cultures and faiths, to increase understanding and stand firm in the face of intolerance.

Not only is it the right thing to do, but we will be so much richer for the experience.