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Marriage and Family

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Marriage and Family

Making Canada's Families Work - Conference Reflections

Ottawa, Canada - The UPF-Ottawa chapter organizing team has done it again. Led by the Chair of the National Capital Peace Council, Mr. Daniel Stringer, and supported in person, mind, and thoughts by Mr. Franco Famularo of Montreal, Secretary General of UPF-Canada, the proof is in the pudding: a successful full-day conference held on June 3 at Ottawa's St. Paul University. It was a well-organized, informative conference on the theme of Making Canada's Families Work: An Interreligious and Intercultural Discussion.

The selection of the guest speakers was second to none in addressing collective societal and community issues of families and the multi-religious and multiculturalism challenges of promoting and maintaining peace.

The interaction of the panelists made an impact: there was neither a dull moment nor a lazy one, especially after the delicious lunch break that UPF kindly hosted. My friend who joined me at this conference, a former ambassador to Yemen, thought that he had pressing matters to attend to. He planned to depart after lunch. Instead, he remained fully attentive until 5:00 pm, when the conference ended!

The interactive question and answer sessions between the participating audience and the knowledgeable members of the panels reflected nothing less than absolute focus, enthusiasm, and awareness, with mixed flavors of significance and humor. In addition, UPF never fails to feed its audience with an up-to-date video clip featuring its global peace activities and charitable dreams to educate and advocate for one global family under one God.

It would be a lengthy article if I were to highlight in detail what each guest speaker delivered. I give much credit to Rev. Darryl Gray of Montreal as moderator. As Master of Ceremonies, he provides knowledge, wisdom, and humor. Mr. Gray is eloquent, and he displays a unique and unrivaled humor and empathy.

Introducing the topic of what the multicultural family has to offer Canada, guest speaker Khadija Haffajee recommended that family members show patience, think proactively proactively, and have mercy in their hearts to make a family work.  Panelist Raheel Raza, president of Forum 4 Learning, buoyantly favors a rise in Canada`s low birth rate, from 1.53 to what is globally acceptable and sustainable (2.1). She humorously referred to indulging in sex for reproduction purposes to achieve that goal rather than watching the film: Sex in the city!

In my humble personal view, the highest quality time came when listening to Imam Dr. Zijad Delic, Chairman of the Canadian Islamic Congress. Born and brought up in war-torn Bosnia, Dr. Delic is a mentor, possessing knowledge which he loves to share.

Taking away nothing from the other panelists, such as Judy Csillag, John Linden, Willie Nabus, David Kilgour, Dr. Ahmed Qadri, and others such as June Girvan, Oni Joseph (the "Haitian sensation"), Christopher Infantry, Rwanda's High Commissioner in Ottawa, H.E. Edda Mukabagwiza, reflected on conflict resolution issues and rebuilding peace in her war-ravaged country. She said: "You can`t talk about peace unless you have peace in your heart, your neighbourhood and community. You can`t give what you don`t have!"

I wish to insert that I would vote for H.E. Mukabagwiza to be the next Prime Minister of Rwanda. I enjoyed the frank dialogue I had with her as we were lining up for the lunch buffet.

The other panelists’ presentations were equally beneficial and informative.

To conclude, I enjoyed the presentation of Joy Pople. Her poised personality, distinguished voice, and journalistic experience filled the amphitheatre of St. Paul University with knowledge, wisdom, cool, and collected ideas.

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