REGINA — World Religion Day Jan. 15 was more special than usual this year as members and friends of the Regina Multi Faith Forum gathered at Beth Jacob Synagogue to pray and welcome the Syrian refugee family the forum has sponsored.
“The family actually arrived in Regina on Dec. 16,” said Dwaine Dornan, a member of the committee.
They are part of a larger group of the same family that arrived previously. Two other groups arrived separately, one sponsored by the government and the other sponsored by two Regina Catholic churches, Christ the King and St. Martin, working together.
Those refugees who arrived first talked about the rest of the family still in Lebanese and Jordanian refugee camps, and that is when the Multi Faith Forum became involved. The family sponsored by the forum included three generations: grandparents, their daughter, and her two children. The children’s father disappeared about three years ago while out on an errand, and is still missing.
This is the first time in several years the whole family has been together. Each group spent time in different refugee camps, with little contact with each other.
Dornan said the process began 15 months ago. “We wanted to show what could be done if the wider faith community worked together. Our group worked with the Regina archdiocese, which is the sponsorship agreement holder.”
Each year on World Religion Day representatives of the world’s religions living in Regina gather at the synagogue to pray for peace and tolerance. This year each representative spoke about hospitality and how that is lived out in the context of their faith. The format has changed slightly over the years, but two traditions have remained: the blowing of the sankh to begin the service and the blowing of the shofar to end the service. The traditional reception was held following the service.
The number who attended the Jan. 15 service was about double that of last year, and one of the largest to attend since the Multi Faith Forum was established after the first Iraqi war.