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The resilient history of Oshawa’s Regent Theatre

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HomeNewsCommunityDurham faith community unites through the World Religion Day celebration

Durham faith community unites through the World Religion Day celebration

Co-written by Mackenzie Billings and Clayton Demaine

The Durham Multifaith Community recently hosted an event aimed at bringing together people from diverse religious backgrounds to celebrate their beliefs.

The “Faith Through the Arts” event was held at the Whitby Public Library as part of World Religion Day.

The library became a cultural mosaic, with a diverse array of symbolic art, including paintings, woven tapestries and calligraphy on display.

The event, now in its 18th year, aims to foster goodwill and understanding between different cultures. Durham Region is home to people from a wide variety of faith backgrounds.

Nearly 70 per cent of Durham residents identified with a religious background in the latest census from 2021.

Representatives from the Hindu, Sikh, and Baha’i faiths, as well as Judaism, Christianity and Islam, were in attendance along with those from less well-known religions.

“The idea is that we want to break down barriers in terms of understanding, in terms of charity, in terms of making the people who are not religious understand that there’s a place for them in our hearts,” said Ron King, who taught attendees about Judaism at his table.

Some attended to share their beliefs with others, while others wanted to show their support for various faith groups in the community.

However, many shared one common interest: contributing to a feeling of oneness in the community.

“I really, really wanted to come here to reaffirm the fact that we’re all one and that we need to love each other and that we need kindness. We’re not going to solve the problems of the world,” said Joe Solway, who identified himself as a non-observant Jew. “But what I can do is maybe create a little goodwill here in my little corner of the world,”

Others, however, attended to clear misconceptions about their beliefs.

“One of the very big reasons for coming out here is because of the misunderstandings that prevail about Islam, Muslims, what they represent, what they promote, how they live within the community,” said Zaihen Rashid.

An older man wearing a kufi stands in front of art work related to Islam.
Zaihen Rashid stands near his event table, educating attendees about the Muslim faith. His presentation included information about his faith and art pieces that he felt represent his faith's beliefs. Photo credit: Clayton Demaine & Mackenzie Billings

Rashid wanted people to know how the disciplined life of a Muslim promotes a healthy lifestyle.

“Faith Through the Arts” also aimed to provide people searching for spiritual connections with an opportunity to explore different faiths.

Gary Gannon, deacon of the All Saints Anglican Church, recalls working with the Durham Multifaith Community last year as his church hosted a World Day of Prayer for Peace event.

“It was striking because while they were different, they were all focused on that one theme of praying for peace in the world,” said Gannon.

An older man wearing a fleece jacket and a deacon's collar stands by a table.
Gary Gannon, deacon of All Saints Anglican Church in Whitby, stands near his event table, educating attendees about Christianity. His presentation included information about his faith and paintings that he felt represented the beliefs of his faith. Photo credit: Mackenzie Billings & Clayton Demaine

The underlying theme of unity echoed through diverse art presentations, such as tapestries featuring the Quran and paintings focused on Jesus, showcasing the community’s willingness to work together despite differences.

A table covered in a blue, white and red tablecloth. A picture of Jesus, as well as a statue of Jesus, paintings and a candle sit on top.
A table at the entrance of the "Faith Through the Arts" event. The table held various religious art pieces varying from specially shaped candles, a statue of Jesus Christ and different paintings, one of which depicts Jesus. The table served as a small introduction to the event, as it had a few art pieces from multiple faiths. Photo credit: Mackenzie Billings & Clayton Demaine