Recently at National Aboriginal Week celebrations, I witnessed a family walking by in their hijabs celebrating Eid, the end of the month-long Muslim fast of Ramadan. One of the Indigenous participants invited them in, and they soaked in the culture, and posed for pictures in front of a tipi. Never before had I witnessed something so Canadian; newer residents, perhaps Syrian refugees, intermingling with the traditional people of this territory. It got me thinking, what does it mean to be Canadian and what are Canadian values?
With news that Omar Khadr has been accepted in Red Deer College’s nursing program, I once again find myself questioning Canadian values. As a Christian Minister, I seek to live out, is love. The person I chose to follow, Jesus once said, “love your neighbour, as you love yourself,” and “love even your enemies.” While that may sound easy, I assure you it is hard work. But, when we CHOOSE to love and forgive, it makes life worth living and makes us happier and healthier. But, don’t trust me, try it out.
How privileged are we, that we get the opportunity to live out forgiveness, and unconditional love, and be part of Mr. Khadr’s reintegration into the country of his birth. Because whether you think Khadr committed a crime or confessed under torture, whether you see him as child soldier or extremist, whether you think his human rights were breached, or he deserves a long jail sentence; he is slated to become our neighbour.
My hope and prayer is that each of us; religious or not, take the time and energy to love Mr. Khadr even if we don’t like him, to learn about who he truly is, and help him in his quest to help others as a nursing student.
Thank God for Mr. Khadr, because he will truly test who we are as a community and how we live out the Canadian values of love, diversity, and inclusion.
Rev. Jeffrey Rock, Red Deer