Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau Honors Iftar Community Friendship Dinner

Ottawa, March 21,2024 –  In a heartfelt message to attendees of the Iftar Community Friendship Dinner, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his warmest greetings, acknowledging the deep-rooted traditions and contributions of the Muslim community to the nation’s multicultural mosaic.

“Dear Friends, As we gather here today, it brings me immense pleasure to convey my warmest greetings to everyone attending the Iftar Community Friendship Dinner,” began the Prime Minister in his address. The dinner, a confluence of faith and fellowship, highlights the importance of Ramadan—a sacred period for Muslims worldwide, dedicated to prayer, fasting, and community gatherings.

The Prime Minister underscored the opportunity that such occasions provide for all Canadians to recognize and appreciate the contributions of Muslims to the country’s cultural fabric. “This occasion is also a chance for all of us to recognize the many contributions that Canadians of Muslim descent make to our country and to learn more about their rich customs and traditions,” he said.

In a note of gratitude, Prime Minister Trudeau commended the event’s organizers for fostering a sense of community and celebration, reflecting Canada’s strength in its diversity. “I would like to thank the organizers for bringing this celebration to the community. Canada is truly a multicultural nation, made stronger and more resilient by our diversity,” he remarked.

Concluding his message, the Prime Minister expressed his hopes for a memorable event, imparting his best wishes to the attendees. The Iftar Community Friendship Dinner not only serves as a platform for cultural exchange but also stands as a testament to Canada’s inclusive spirit and commitment to celebrating the rich tapestry of its citizenry.

A Historic Gathering on Parliament Hill

In the heart of Canada’s capital, against the prestigious backdrop of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, a remarkable event unfolded that marked the holy month of Ramadan and symbolized a collective aspiration for peace and harmony in a world riddled with discord. The “Peaceful Coexistence: Equal Inclusivity” dinner, meticulously organized by the Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI) Ottawa in partnership with the Ottawa Police Service, was a testament to the enduring spirit of community, dialogue, and mutual respect. With around 300 attendees gathering in this symbolic venue, the event was a profound manifestation of unity and understanding across diverse cultural and religious landscapes.

IDI’s Pivotal Role in Promoting Unity

The significance of IDI Ottawa’s role in orchestrating such a pivotal event was a recurring theme throughout the evening, highlighting the institute’s unwavering commitment to fostering an inclusive and harmonious society. Executive Director Fatih Gencoglu’s opening speech set the stage for this narrative, as he eloquently outlined the institute’s objectives and achievements. “Welcome to ‘Peaceful Coexistence: Equal Inclusivity,’ a theme that underscores our collective pursuit of harmony and mutual understanding across diverse communities,” Gencoglu began, stressing the importance of the institute’s efforts in bringing people together to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan and to promote understanding between different cultures and faiths.

Voices of Peace and Inclusion

As the evening progressed, the speeches delivered by distinguished guests underscored the critical importance of the event in the face of global turmoil characterized by war, conflict, and hate speech. Honourable Councilor Jenna Sudds articulated the connection between the gathering and broader global issues, reflecting the need for peaceful coexistence in turbulent times. “In a world where tension, conflict, and misunderstanding are all too common, coming together in a place as emblematic as Parliament Hill to promote peace, dialogue, and inclusivity sends a strong message of hope and unity,” Sudds remarked, emphasizing the unique opportunity the event presented to foster dialogue and build bridges in a divided world.

Spotlight on Interfaith Dialogue

Adding to the evening’s poignant messages, the Honourable Kamal Khera, Member of Parliament and Minister of Diversity, Inclusion, and Persons with Disabilities, shared her insights, underscoring the urgency and importance of fostering interfaith dialogue and building community ties. “To be here with all of you this evening and thank you so much to my friend and colleague Jenna for being an incredible champion for your community. It’s an honour to serve alongside you. Whether it’s the Muslim community, the Jewish community, or many others, the need to come together and showcase the power of interfaith dialogue and friendship has never been more crucial,” Khera remarked. Her words emphasized the collective effort required to celebrate and leverage Canada’s diversity as its greatest strength, particularly in challenging times marked by conflict and division.

Community Collaboration for Safety and Unity

Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs echoed this sentiment, highlighting the role of community collaboration in maintaining safety and unity within the diverse fabric of Ottawa’s society. “Our partnership with IDI Ottawa in hosting this dinner, especially during Ramadan, underscores our shared commitment to fostering meaningful interactions and mutual understanding. In a year marked by challenges, this event stands as a beacon of hope, demonstrating the power of unity and the strength of our community,” Stubbs stated, reinforcing the event’s significance in promoting peace and understanding.

Personal Narratives of Hope and Resilience

David Kitz, a respected author and speaker, contributed a deeply impactful speech that resonated with the attendees, weaving personal experiences with a broader message of unity and compassion. Kitz shared a particularly moving account of his engagement with the Turkish community and his efforts to aid those fleeing persecution. “What I would say on this. By the way, David and I are holding a book. It’s a book by a Turkish author, Cem Gulbent, also known as Daniel, who helped me translate from Turkish into English on behalf of a Turkish author imprisoned in Turkey. And what an opportunity to see such creative people and be just a little bit of a help,” Kitz recounted, emphasizing the power of individual actions in supporting those in need and fostering understanding across cultures.

A Beacon of Hope for a More Peaceful World

The event’s speeches, including Kitz’s influential contributions, were not merely formalities but deeply felt messages that stirred a collective consciousness about the power of unity and the importance of standing together against the forces of division. The setting of Parliament Hill added a profound sense of gravity to the occasion, reminding those present of the democratic values of freedom, respect, and inclusivity that Canada champions, especially pertinent when these ideals are challenged globally. Moreover, the event was a vibrant tapestry of cultural and religious acknowledgment, with every speech, every gesture, and every shared meal as a reminder of the beauty and strength of diversity. The breaking of the fast, the iftar dinner, was a moment of shared humanity, a poignant reminder of the commonalities that bind people together, transcending differences.

A Symbol of Unity and Peaceful Coexistence

As the evening drew to a close, the “Peaceful Coexistence: Equal Inclusivity” dinner at Parliament Hill emerged as an event and a symbol of what can be achieved when communities come together in the spirit of understanding and peace. It was a call to action, urging all present and the wider community to carry the message of unity and inclusivity into their daily lives. In a world beset by wars, conflicts, and hate speech, the gathering was a beacon of hope, demonstrating that through dialogue, empathy, and a shared commitment to peace, a more inclusive and harmonious world is not only necessary but possible. The IDI Ottawa, with the Ottawa Police Service and all who attended, laid down a marker for what community and dialogue can achieve in the quest for a better, more peaceful world.

Celebrating Diversity as Canada’s Greatest Strength

The evening’s gathering under the “Peaceful Coexistence: Equal Inclusivity” banner offered more than just a space for interfaith dialogue and cultural exchange. It served as a vibrant demonstration of the power of collective action in confronting the challenges of our times. In the face of global unrest, the event stood as a testament to the belief that understanding, compassion, and unity can overcome division and hate.

This event, characterized by its heartfelt speeches, communal iftar, and the symbolic unity of attendees from various backgrounds, becomes a beacon for future initiatives to foster peace and coexistence. The shared commitment to dialogue and understanding echoed through Parliament Hill, sending a message of hope that resonated well beyond the confines of the gathering.

A Milestone in the Journey Toward Peace

As the night concluded, the clear skies over Ottawa’s Parliament Hill seemed to reflect the clarity of purpose shared by those who had come together: to illuminate a path toward a world where peace, respect, and inclusivity reign supreme. The “Peaceful Coexistence: Equal Inclusivity” dinner did not just mark an occasion but signalled a movement towards embracing our shared humanity in the face of adversity.

In this light, the efforts of the Intercultural Dialogue Institute Ottawa and the Ottawa Police Service, supported by the heartfelt contributions of speakers and attendees alike, highlighted the enduring power of community engagement in shaping a more inclusive, understanding, and peaceful society. This memorable evening on Parliament Hill thus stands as a milestone in the ongoing journey towards a world defined not by our differences but by our collective will to transcend them in pursuit of a greater good.

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