In March 2020, the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak a global pandemic. Two years later, the Canadian Interfaith Conversation has issued a “An Invitation to Solidarity” to mark the second anniversary of the pandemic.
The document, signed by more than two dozen religious leaders, calls for a Canada-wide “period of remembrance and reflection for those claimed by the pandemic”. More than 35,000 Canadians have died of coronavirus, and many more have been unable to grieve their loved ones in the company of friends and family. Between March 11 and 21, Canadians are encouraged to commit to “prayer and contemplation on how we can help heal the wounds in our society.”
The Canadian Interfaith Conversation (CIC) is a cross-Canada movement of faith communities who have joined hands to advance mutual understanding between people of different beliefs and address issues of concern to the common good of all. The Bahá’í Community of Canada is a founding member of the CIC and is represented on its executive committee.
This statement follows on another document released by the CIC, “Hope, Gratitude, and Solidarity,” shared in the early weeks of the pandemic. The Bahá’í Community’s Office of Public Affairs hosted a conversation about the content of that statement, which was later released as a podcast of The Public Discourse.
In this latest intervention the CIC reflects not only on the human toll of the pandemic, but also on its social effects. It acknowledges both the “heroic acts of compassion between Canadians” as well as recent evidence of “exhaustion, resentment and anger”. The COVID-19 related protests and counter-protests in several Canadian cities and border crossings have challenged the sense of national unity.
“Canadians are a people of many creeds,” it observes, “but still of one shared humanity. During these times of trial, we must look to one another with hope and not fear, and we must seek to understand one another as vigorously as we seek to make ourselves understood.”
The statement concludes by urging for a renewed commitment to solidarity and mutual respect: “We commit to living up to our critical role in fostering dialogue, softening hearts, building mutual understanding, and celebrating our shared humanity.”