Over 200 women filled the seats at the Baitur Rahman Mosque on River Road for an interfaith symposium on the “role of women in the upbringing of our future generation.”
“Even though we are women of varying faiths we have so much in common,” said Aisha Naveed, public events coordinator for the Ahmadiyya Women’s Auxiliary. “Religion teaches us to implement good values onto our children.”
The event was held on Saturday, Dec. 1 and moderated by Mary-Em Waddington, executive director of the BC Technology for Learning Society. The symposium featured speakers representing Islam, Sikhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Christianity and the Baha’i Faith.
Rabbi Laura Durhan Kaplan and Rev. Lori Megley-Best spoke about the role of mothers as teachers, helping children learn about religious beliefs by setting an example and the role models or references in the Bible that serve to guide women.
“A woman is like an architect of the future generation,” said Naheed Khokhar, who was representing Islam. She told mothers that in order to leave behind a legacy of hope for their children they need to leave behind a peaceful world for future generations. She explained that mothers should work to discourage religious extremism.
“It is now the duty of today’s mothers to shun the concept of this so-called jihad or struggle and raise the slogan of peace,” Khokhar said.
Sikh activist and researcher Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning said one of the challenges women face relates to how they treat other women by competing or judging each other and their own daughters too harshly. The second challenge is feeling as though “as women we have to do it all,” including raising children, working and being sexy.
Vinning said women can challenge those messages by reflecting on their own strengths and values then reaching out to people who will support them in becoming better people.
“We need to teach by example. As our children are growing we need to also grow with them or they will outgrow us,” Vinning said. “Or, even worse, we’ll stop them from growing and we will become that cage that holds them back.”
Prakriti Sundari Devi Dasi, representing Hinduism, said parents must build a relationship of love and trust with their children. She advised parents to carefully monitor what types of media their children are taking in because of their tendency to imitate the characters on screen.
Susan Mottahedeh of the Baha’i Faith emphasized religion’s role in helping to combat negative social forces that youth face, including radicalization, drugs, gangs and sexual exploitation.
Elder Roberta Price from the Coast Salish Snuneymuxw and Cowichan First Nations spoke about the importance of providing children with “unconditional love.”
Delta Coun. Lois Jackson and Delta Police Department school liaison program supervisor Sgt. Cathy Geddes, also participated the panel.