When the UN kicks off its World Interfaith Harmony Week today, the people of Halifax will know their city has been put on the map as a model of religious diversity and openness.
Haligonians will get to celebrate Feb 1 to 7 with the rest of the interfaith world, but they can also take pride in knowing they were chosen in the top three participants of 2016. Last year, 816 events and more than 80 prize applications marked UN interfaith work in 2016. Two members of the Halifax committee travelled to Jordan’s Royal Court last spring to receive the recognition from His Majesty King Abdullah II.
To make the prize even sweeter, 2016 was the first time Nova Scotia officially proclaimed World Interfaith Harmony Week, which is observed annually in the first week of February. Unanimously adopted by the UN in 2010, its purpose is to provide diverse faith communities and goodwill groups a platform to share their traditions in an open and respectful atmosphere.
“That’s a map-making moment in the world,” says Jim Torbert, member of Interfaith Harmony Halifax’s planning committee.
“There is an overarching view among everyone participating that this sets a really good example to the world,” Torbert says. “This is a tribute to the openness, generosity, kindness and appreciation of the diversity.”
This year, the Halifax group has even more participation amongst the sacred hosts helping with the organization. There’s a sense more people are getting involved.
Halifax participants will be asked to consider how to extend the week’s interfaith conversations year-round. During the celebration event attendees will take part in talking circles with the open question: “What can you bring from this week’s experience back to your community?”