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Diversity and Islam Conference

Remarks by the Hon. David Kilgour, Member of Parliament (Edmonton Southeast) and Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific)

Room 200, West Block, Parliament Hill

Saturday, June 21, 2003


Welcome to Parliament and to one of the most important rooms on Parliament Hill!  Bienvenue à toutes et à tous.


Women Engaging in Bridge Building – WEBB – and especially Nazreem Aly, who spearheaded a team which spent many 100s of volunteer hours organizing this conference – deserve much praise.


This event is a positive consequence to 9/11.  It will allow all of us to see the enormous spiritual, cultural and ethical strength of Islam.


It is appropriate that this first major event by WEBB as a new international organization founded after 9/11 be held in Canada!


We Canadians consider ourselves to be bridge builders mostly because we have so many of the world’s faiths and cultures living peacefully within our borders!


Indeed, a friend of mine, a European, who lived in Canada for a number of years, thinks the genus of Canadians is what he terms our “plural identity”.  We can be Arab and Jew, Muslim or Christian and many other things in our own person because of the strengths and familiarity with our myriad cultural and religious communities.


In short, Canadians seek to remove misconceptions of many kinds.  We try to depolarize and dedemonize!  That is our mission in an increasingly borderless world.


I promised to be very brief.  Every moment is precious today.  The organizers are committed to staying on schedule with all speakers at all times in order to maximize audience participation.


God bless the work of this conference.



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