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"Diversity" documentary reflects on maze of self-identity in Canada

"Diversity" documentary reflects on maze of self-identity in Canada

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

27 September 2018

"Let us all learn how to listen without interrupting, and how to speak without accusing, and how to share without pretending, how to enjoy without complaint, how to trust without wavering, how to promise without forgetting, and how to forgive - and forgive is the greatest teaching in Islam - without punishing."

Imam Fayaz Tilly, from the Muslim Council of Calgary, Canada, offers these reflections in “Diversity,” a recently released 30-minute documentary featuring candid thoughts about youth, reconciliation, and self-identity in Canada.

Shot in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver, the movie was produced by the Armenian Diocese of Canada with Lights and Shadows Productions, in association with the Canadian Youth Interfaith Network. The documentary is part of a larger project, “Celebrating Our Diversity Now”, supported by the Canadian government.

The movie poses the philosophical question: Whatever our faith, and wherever our origins, how do we find ourselves?

People such as Ariella Kimmel, director of Policy and Strategic Affairs for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, attempt to answer in the film: “I think there are a lot of challenges in these younger generations, that the world is really moving fast, and that there’s so much information out there, so much technology out there, and that it’s hard to commit yourself to one thing, or focus on one thing,” she says. “I think people just tend to get lost.”

2018: Year of Youth

Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, declared the year 2018 as the “Year of Youth.” Bishop Abgar Hovakimyan, primate of the Armenian Diocese of Canada, gave his blessings to focus on bringing together youth from various faith-based communities of Canada.

The project “Celebrating Our Diversity Now” aims to promote tolerance and diversity through engagement and interaction between the youth and clergy representing various religious communities of Canada, and to establish the Canadian Interfaith Youth Network.

“Religious diversity is an important component of Canadian multiculturalism,” explains Levon Isakhanyan, coordinator of the Canadian Youth Interfaith Network. “Religion does play a significant role in the shaping of mutual perceptions. To develop the culture of tolerance, as well to reduce prejudices based on religious affiliation, one should seek the common ground for recognition, respect and harmonious coexistence for the benefit of all Canadians.”

What is diversity about?

Diversity is about identity, notes Isakhanyan. “And identity is the basis of a personal self-identification. Therefore, fear and other challenges faced by the present generation are partly related to their own identity and the extension and the nature of interaction with ‘other’ identity bearers.”

Isakhanyan believes that, to be able to make peace with others, one has to be in peace with oneself. “For this simple - or maybe not that simple - reason one has to take time to oneself, not to rush, and to try to focus on anything positive,” Isakhanyan says.

Canadian Youth Interfaith Network

Video: “Diversity” documentary