Coming out of the season of family, friends, and food, can bring a sense of togetherness to a community.
The Pembina Valley MultiFaith Council (PVMFC) has been together for just over a year, and currently has seven members, Peter Cantelon, Boota Singh Ubhi, Kelvin Dyck, Zahid Zehri, Vassan Aruljothi, Mandeep Saini, and Ted Peters.
"There are over 100 countries represented in our region in terms of immigration and new residents, and with people from different and diverse places in the world, you get different and diverse beliefs," says board chair, Cantelon.
The group is a branch of the Manitoba MultiFaith Council, and is the only one outside of Winnipeg.
"For our purposes, we are simply maintaining lines of communication between different leaders of faith within our region," he says.
Around the Christmas season, it is easy to get sucked up in your own families traditions, or your own religious practices. On the flip side, the board agrees that the season can also give opportunities to find a common ground, and can foster mutual respect for people of other faiths.
Cantelon says, "we do see a community of people who are very giving . . . and one of the things we've learned as a MultiFaith Council is that, regardless of the fact that this is a strongly Christian area, it's still a very welcoming area when it comes to other faith perspectives."
He adds, it is important for people from the area to know that the council sees how respectful residents are of other religions and beliefs, especially when worldwide news does not always reflect the type of community that resides in the Pembina Valley.
"What we see in our region is something different. We see groups of people who are able to coexist with one another, respect one another, and see the value of the diversity that we have," Cantelon says."Being aware that there are faith communities our there that have been influenced to one degree or another by your own faith community . . . being aware of other cultures and faiths helps you better understand your own."