Richmond’s faith groups unite
Richmond Jewish Day School vice-principal Lisa Romalis addresses a delegation of United Nations ambassador on Nov. 13. (photo from RJDS)
India Cultural Centre of Canada / Gurdwara Nanak Niwas in Richmond hosted 11 United Nations ambassadors on Nov. 13. These diplomats represented Finland, Ghana, Guatemala, Jordan, Mali, Mauritania, Peru, United Republic of Tanzania, Uruguay, Vietnam and Canada. And they took time to meet with local residents, including representatives from Richmond Jewish Day School.
The ambassadors were in Vancouver for the Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial summit. While here, they met with the Gurdwara Management Committee (GMC) and members of the Highway to Heaven Association (HHA). Richmond’s Highway to Heaven is home to more than 20 places of worship, representing many different faiths, including Sikhism, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and others.
An outstanding feature of this event was when two educators – Sukaina Jaffer, vice-principal of Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy, and Lisa Romalis, vice-principal of RJDS, stood up, holding hands, and spoke about their students’ common activities.
The UN ambassadors, led by Marc-André Blanchard, ambassador of Canada to the UN, were keen to learn about the multiplicity of religious groups represented on this small stretch of No. 5 Road and their concerted efforts in promoting harmony and unity in diversity. They were impressed with the concept of the HHA, where people from different ethnic and religious groups come together to practise their faith and live as peaceful neighbours.
The UN ambassadors commended members of the HHA and GMC and, on behalf of cultural centre chair Asa Singh Johal, Balwant Sanghera, a member of the GMC and chair of the HHA, thanked the ambassadors for taking the time to meet.