Weaving acts of kindness at the Museum of Surrey. (Ursula Maxwell-Lewis)

COLUMN: Reflections and heartache in the wake of Christchurch shooting

It’s the everyday citizen who needs to give peace a chance, writes columnist Ursula Maxwell-Lewis

By Ursula Maxwell-Lewis

Cloverdale Reporter

Shock. Distress. Anger. Outrage. How does one respond adequately to the terrorist attack on unsuspecting Muslims peacefully worshipping in the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre in Christchurch, New Zealand?

Or, for that matter, attacks on the law-abiding public in Canada, or any civilized country?

Following such assaults on freedom and dignity we unite in every way possible to demonstrate love, sympathy, solidarity and support for families, communities and countries impacted. But can we do more? I don’t know. However, such events force me to reflect and refocus my perspective based on my own community and experiences.

The day after the Christchurch attack I volunteered at the Museum of Surrey.

The newly expanded museum was a hive of activity during the annual Celtic Fest, as it had been for the Lunar New Year a month earlier.

Two young women wearing hijabs leaned intently over a small weaving loom. A grandmotherly grey-haired woman was instructing them on the fine art of elementary weaving. Heads inches apart, the three were engrossed in their shared task.

Nearby a crafter, surrounded by Asian children, helped little fingers master the intricate art of Celtic Knotwork. The clearly delighted children proudly showed their “heart” work off to their nearby parents.

Despite large crowds (including very young children), a quiet respectfulness prevailed in the “We Are Kwantlen” exhibit in the new Indigenous Hall. A father read aloud to his son, “We are a fact, not an artifact. We are here and have always been here.” Words written by respected Kwantlen elder Cheryl Gabriel.

Last year I joined over 200 women at the Annual Women’s Interfaith Symposium at the Baitur Rahman Mosque in Delta. Hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s Association, featured guest speakers represented Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Hinduism, the Bahá’í Faith and Judaism. A panel included Coast Salish Snuneymuxw and Cowichan First Nations Elder Roberta Price, Delta Coun. Lois Jackson and Delta Police Department school liaison program supervisor Sgt. Cathy Geddes. The focus was to discuss the role of women in raising the next generation.

After respectfully listening to each speaker explain their beliefs and customs, women mingled over a sumptuous lunch.

“This is delicious! How can you do it all for free?” I asked an organizer as she efficiently replenished rapidly vanishing trays of steaming curries, rice and desserts.

“We budget for it annually,” she replied, adding, “Thankfully the men help us out in the kitchen! Are you finding everything? Are you getting enough to eat?”

I told her I’d been invited by guest speaker Rev. Lori Megley-Best from Cloverdale United Church and had been made very welcome by everyone throughout the event.

As I drove away, my Malaysian tour guide friend, Azlina Mohidin, came to mind.

Azlina, a devout Muslim, showed us the highlights of Kuala Lumpur, and also discussed customs and religion.

One day, while walking through a bustling, dusty market, she suddenly stopped, turned to me, and asked, “Ursula, why can’t we all just be friends?”

Why indeed?

I still don’t know the answer to Azlina’s question. However, I am convinced that individuals and organizations like those mentioned above go a long way to combating fear, anger and resentment. Relating to this, I also applaud New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s pro-active vow to change the gun laws, particularly relating to private ownership of semi-automatic rifles.

We can sing “We shall overcome,” but isn’t it random acts of kindness, community outreach and average citizens who really give peace a chance?

Ursula Maxwell-Lewis is a travel journalist and photographer. She has travelled in New Zealand and grieves with all those affected by this tragedy.



editor@cloverdalereporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Police watchdog investigating after pedestrian struck and killed in Surrey

IIO investigating after male killed in crash shortly after being released from police custody

Surrey Mounties say 40 intoxicated teens found on ‘party bus’ in Newton

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Strawberry Hill

PHOTOS: Players putt their way to Las Vegas at Surrey MSOP tournament

Two-day regional qualifier held at Eaglequest Coyote Creek

Electric car-share company to bring 2,000 vehicles to Surrey/White Rock

SUMO is to launch next year with 150 vehicles, and increase to 2,000 by 2022

B.C. cabinet minister denies that Surrey mayor’s friend attended government meeting

Surrey councillor questions Vancouver businessman Bob Cheema’s involvement in official meeting

VIDEO: Drone footage documents work to free salmon at Big Bar landslide

Video shows crews working to remove rocks and wood, and transporting salmon by helicopter

Defense says burden of proof not met in double murder case against Victoria father

Closing statements begin in trial for man accused of killing daughters Christmas 2017

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Vancouver police could be using drones to fight crime by end of year

The police department has already purchased three drones, as well as three others for training

Grand opening of Molson Coors Fraser Valley Brewery at Chilliwack cause for celebration

Ribbon-cutting with dignitaries, Molson brass and family marked the official grand opening

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Powder the muskets, zombies are coming!

Fort Langley National Historic Site offers up A Survivalist’s Guide to a Zombie Apocalypse, Sept. 28

Most Read

l -->