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Surrey responds to Quebec Mosque shooting
100 brave storm for vigil on page 5
Surrey vigil will commemorate Quebec Mosque shooting victims Friday
Surrey responds to Quebec Mosque shooting
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100 Brave Storm for Vigil
Surrey, BC -- A vigil prayer for the victims of Quebec Islamic Cultural Center took place on Friday, February 3rd from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 pm at Holland Park in Surrey, B.C. The purpose of this event was to show solidarity with the victims' families and to bring together generations of people from different faiths to promote peace and understanding in a world faced with extremism and violence.
Linda Hepner, Mayor or Surrey, Councillor Mike Starchuck and a myriad of MPs and MLAs condemned the savage attack in the strongest terms possible. A strong presence of faith-based and non-profit organizations made it clear that we will conquer hate with compassion, love, understanding and justice. We overwhelmingly reject the politics of racism and exclusion, and standing together, we are committed to building a diverse, inclusive and welcoming society that promotes respect for all, regardless of faith, race or ethnicity.
The directors reflected on why the Amazing Tutors Children's Foundation organized the vigil: "Our sincere hope is to protect and help communities cope and build resilience in a rapidly changing world characterized with high levels of extremism. We feel that no one has the right to take away a person's spiritual free will and self-determination, nor their underlying strength, and we are doing everything within our power to fight for peace and condemn this horrific attack. We need to be engaged in a process of healing that is collaborative, enhancing, inclusive, practical, pro-active and responsible. We must stand united together to create a society of love and justice. These horrific attacks on innocent civilians are really meant to divide us, however, with love and justice as our common shield, we can recognize our differences and strive to be the best human being."
Any savage attacks on innocent civilians, whether they occur in Canada, Syria, Paris, Beirut, Brussels, Pakistan, USA or in any other city or country, are heinous and without justification. We stand in solidarity and condemn these demonic, horrific acts in the strongest terms possible. Today, our thoughts are with the loved ones of those killed and injured.
As a foundation advocating for children everywhere, The Amazing Tutors Children's Foundation condemns violence against children regardless of the form it takes. The children at the Mosque in the Islamic Cultural Center attended with their families to pray and worship. A threat to their lives should raise concerns for everyone about religiously motivated violence. These innocent lives must be protected, for within them are the seeds of the world we want to build. If we hope to create a society of tolerance, freedom and compassion, then we must secure the safety of all children and their families regardless of race, religion, or gender.
Children represent the future of our society and community. Violence against them will only continue the cycle of intolerance and hate that divides us as people. By standing together in condemnation against violence, we can help break the cycle, and create communities of understanding, caring, and compassion. The children attended prayers with their families, making the mosque populated while the attack ensued.
The timing of the attack only raises concerns about intolerance and violence within our communities. At a time when communication and diplomacy are needed more than ever, acts such as this only exacerbate and inflate tensions between religious communities here in Canada. If we hope to create greater understanding between people, we must take steps to end violence that fosters intolerance and hatred.
We call everyone to help end violence, especially when it threatens the lives of children. As a community, we should strive to create a space for children to live that is safe, tolerant, and compassionate. Acts of violence threaten us all, even when directed at specific groups," advocate the directors of the Amazing Tutors Children's Foundation.
The event was organized by the student volunteers of the Amazing Tutors Children's Foundation. We are grateful for everyone's support and encouragement in helping us build peace together. We seek to build communities by supporting youth and children through educational and volunteer opportunities in Surrey, BC. We involve our students and tutors in various programs, such as the leadership youth program. We need more people to join us. For more information about this event or about our programs, please contact us today at 604-765-4099 or send us an email using the contact form.
A Snowy Walk in Beauty, Compassion, Grace and Mercy
Although the third annual Surrey Interfaith Pilgrimage was officially cancelled due to heavy snowfall, there were many participants who moved with integrity to bring compassion, peace, understanding and solidarity to the forefront. The purpose of the event was to bring people from diverse backgrounds and worldviews together to affirm our collective commitment to building peace and understanding in our community.
The first pilgrimage was in response to the November 12, 2015 bombing attacks in southern Beirut and Paris. This year we aimed to build solidarity with the victims and their families who had recently lost their loved ones in the Quebec shooting in Canada. We began with an exchange of blessings for peace and understanding a the Thien Ton Buddhist Temple and went past six other houses of worship: Northwood United Church, Laximi Narayan Hindu Mandir, Gurdwara Sikh Sahib Brookside, Surrey Jamia Muslim Masjid and the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara. A small ceremony was hosted at each site to cultivate in people a deeper sense of their own religious identity, while also building relationship with people who come from different cultural and religious backgrounds.
Arriving at the Thien Ton Budhdist Temple, the blossom trees were covered with a thick blanket of snow. Icicles glistened and caught the gleaming rays of sunshine. David Dalley, who organized the walk, and Gordon Leslie, one of the volunteers, went there early in the morning to make sure that no one was stranded. Their safety was paramount. To their surprise, Robert, Andrea and their daughter, Sophia showed up. They had heard about the pilgrimage on the radio and they just could not miss out on the opportunity to explore the possibility of exploring the different houses of worship, build friendship with people from diverse backgrounds, share a meal and build solidarity with Canadians. This would also be an inclusive study field trip for Sophia.
A generous lunch was served to everyone at the Laxmi Narayan Hindu Mandir. Vinay introduced our team to their congregation and we participated in the spiritual offering ceremony. In keeping with Hindu practices and traditions, the society operates a Vivek Hindi School, which teaches classes every Sunday. Meditation, yoga, and ESL classes are offered every week. The largest annual Hindu festivals are organized by their directors. Trekking through the snow, Scott Reynolds' contemplative words came to mind. A former event organizer and Minister of Youth form the United Churches of Langley, he said that: "When we are confronted with deep loss, fear often emerges in our thoughts. Walking and sharing a warm meal together is a tangible, bodily demonstration of unity that reminds us to let go of fear and move forward in love."
We made our way to the Gurdwara Sahib Brookside in the snowy blizzard. This is a place of worship for the Sikhs in the Brookside and Bear Creek area. They gather to hear their spiritual leaders speak and to listen to holy hymns. Surinder, our host, received us graciously in the community kitchen. We drank a warm cup of tea infused with the sweet aroma of cardamons, ate gelabee sweets and the social conversation blossomed over jobs, families, children and our travels in the world. We all share the same hopes and dreams for our children. He guided us upstairs to the prayer hall and informed us of the services offered during the week.
Heading to the Surrey Jamia Muslim Mosque, an air of sadness brought us back to a closer reality. I reflected on why I chose to lend a hand. David, the Surrey Interfaith Council team and I truly believe that the goal of the pilgrimage was to develop a sense of mutual trust, respect, and understanding across religious traditions, and to reduce religiously motivated violence, stereotyping, bigotry, or hatred. Uniting people across faith and ideological lines creates an environment of interfaith harmony.
We were received by the Muslim congregants with appreciation, compassion, dignity, and respect. We stated clearly that the voice of a terrorist is not the overarching voice of Canadians. The true voice of Canadians embraces the fruits of the spirit: compassion, gentleness, goodness, grace, forbearance, fortitude, mercy, kindness, patience, self-control and understanding. David had gathered a dozen of messages of solidarity from the Surrey Interfaith Council and we were ready to share them all.
We shared their sadness and mourned for the victims and their families. We were engaged in a process of healing that was collaborative laden with compassion, grace, mercy and kindness. We prayed with them, shared a cup of warm tea and had muffins and sweets. We were actively promoting interfaith dialogue and cooperation to end politically and religiously motivated violence. We aspired to build cultures of compassion, peace and healing in a fragmented world.
We left an hour later and walked to the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara to meet the congregants. We were served a warm dinner, went upstairs to the music and prayer hall and reflected on the blessings of the day. Connie Waterman's words rang so true right in the moment. An event organizer from the Baha'i community, she reflected on the role of religious values in creating peace: "Each one of us has the ability, individually and collectively, to be compassionate, selfless and loving. These attributes are strengthened by religious values taught by all the world's great religions. Together we can create a better world by concentrating all the thoughts of our heart on love and unity, then aligning our actions to reflect that thought."
The Amazing Tutors's Children's Foundation appreciates David Dalley, Gordon Leslie, Dr. Das and Connie Waterman, Scott Reynolds and our amazing directors and the entire Surrey Interfaith Council for pursuing interfaith harmony, peace and non-violence within our city. Thank you, Surrey Interfaith Council, for providing the opportunity for all of us to participate in a giving and caring community. With permission from the kind and thoughtful members, we would like to share these heart-felt and powerful messages of solidarity with the media, so everyone will have the opportunity to feel the power of solidarity and unity: We are one and we are Canadians fighting for compassion, peace and understanding. The pilgrimage was a surprisingly a snowy walk in beauty, compassion, grace and mercy. May we walk together very soon when spring knocks on our doors with the intention that everything that is done in this world is done by hope.
A Prayer for love and hope
We pray to God, the fountainhead of compassion, grace and mercy to help us communicate a universal message that we are all united in promoting interfaith dialogue and co-operation, to end politically and religiously motivated violence, and to create cultures of peace, respect, understanding and healing for all living beings on earth. We believe that no one has the right to take away another person's spiritual free will and self-determination, nor their alexandrite of underlying spiritual strength. We pray for the pristine unity of mankind as the oneness of God is the oneness of man. And as our brothers, sisters and their children take their journey to return to compassion, grace, fortitude and mercy --we never forget to be the best human being that we can. We are reminded to hold on to our blue sapphire of patience, which allows us to cope with worldly difficulties. We are blessed to own our green emerald of compassion, which directs us to be sensibly close and kind to others. We express our gratitude for having our amethyst of kindness which lifts our doling hand to be the first to give and help those in need. We thank God for giving us a sparkling diamond of vision, which guides us to make sense and order out of this world of toil. With these thoughts, we pray to God to protect our communities and lead the way and provide further guidance.
- Amazing Tutors Children's Foundation
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.
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Like a bird singing in the snow, let grateful memories survive in time of sorrow.
In memory of a life so beautifully lived, a heart so deeply loved.
Wherever a loving soul has been, there is a beautiful trail of memories.
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