Mayor Crombie delivered the following speech in front of 150+ religious, faith and community leaders at her inaugural Interfaith Prayer Breakfast in recognition of the UN’s World Interfaith Harmony Week.
Check Against Delivery
February 3, 2020
“Good morning, everyone and welcome to City Hall for my first interfaith prayer breakfast during World Interfaith Harmony Week.
I want to begin by thanking the Interfaith Council of Peel and Rabbi Pollack for co-hosting and to the entire ICP Steering Committee for ensuring today’s breakfast is nothing short of a success.
Before we get too ahead in our program, I’d like to invite up Elder Cat Criger, from the Cayuga National, Turtle Clan to the stage.
Cat is a traditional teacher, knowledge keeper, Indigenous Advisor and steward of the Indigenous Centre at UTM.
Elder Criger is also an active member of our City’s interfaith community and I couldn’t be more pleased to invite him up to the stage to lead us in a land acknowledgement and short prayer.
We have dozens of faith leaders from across our city joining us this morning.
Please stand up so that you can be recognized.
That represent a wide-array of religions including Judaism, Christianity, Catholics, Islam, Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, Bahai’i, Unitarianism and Native Spirituality.
Thank you for joining us and for your service to residents of all faiths and backgrounds.
We also have Councillor Matt Mahoney and local MPPs Natalia Kusendova, Kaleed Rasheed and Deepak Anand joining us.
We also have representation from our first responders, Peel Police and Mississauga Fire and Emergency Services along with our education partners from the Dufferin Peel and Peel Catholic School Boards.
One of the many blessings of being Mayor is that not a week goes when I’m not being invited to a church, synagogue, temple or mosque to celebrate with our various faith communities.
As a practicing Catholic and parishioner of Merciful Redeemer, religion plays an important part in my life.
Even more important is the role that spiritual and religious leaders like yourselves play in ensuring our City remains a welcoming place for all…
You have a unique responsibility to promote peace…
You bring people together…
You provide spiritual and moral guidance … in the good times and the bad…
And most importantly, you are beacons of tolerance and peace.
It’s especially powerful when you band together and commit to working together to address some of the real issues facing our community.
The unfortunate reality is that we are living in an increasingly intolerant and divided world.
We are seeing far too many people being targeted by hate crimes simply because of who they are and what they choose to believe in.
People around the country and the world are losing their lives because of it…
This is simply unacceptable.
Faith is a force for good. It helps us make sense of the world.
It makes us better people and more caring and compassionate citizens.
It is open to all people. It does not discriminate. It is inclusive.
The reality is that all religions share a common thread…
They teach us tolerance, respect…
To love one another, to aim for achievements, not money…
To focus on the present, to know oneself, and to treat others the way that you would want to be treated.
I could go on… these are just a few of the many, many examples that shine a light on our commonalities and remind us that we are more alike than we are different…
As leaders in our respective communities, it is our shared responsibility to promote values of peace and tolerance…
And to promote mutual respect and dialogue amongst the many religions and faiths in our great City.
Today’s breakfast is a celebration of our City’s diversity.
In Mississauga, we embrace our diversity…
We stand up for it, and we demand that it be respected.
As many of you know, over the past five years, I’ve been working day in and day out to build an even more welcoming and inclusive city…
A City where everyone feels welcome and where everyone belongs….and a place where everyone can thrive.
With so much uncertainty happening in the world, we need faith more now than ever.
Maximillian Kolbe, a Polish priest who died in Auschwitz, once said ‘a single act of love makes the soul return to life.’
Father Kolbe. By living our faith, can stand up to intolerance and injustice, and build a more inclusive and dynamic society.
I want to end by thanking all the faith leaders here this morning for their dedication to building bridges across our various faith communities in Mississauga.
I look forward to seeing everyone engage in the group table discussions and provide thoughtful responses on how we can chart a path for greater collaboration between our City and interfaith communities.
Don’t forget to stick around for the group photo which will happen shortly before we wrap up at ten-o-clock.
I’d now like to turn it over to Rabbi Pollack and Reverend Hedge to say a few words followed by Acting Inspector Joy Edwards from Peel Regional Police and Meghan Nicholls from the food bank.
After all the speakers and interfaith prayer, Rabbi Pollack will invite you back on stage to provide closing remarks.
Thank you Rabbi Pollack for leading us in that uplifting prayer.
Today’s discussions were both enlightening and enriching…
It is my hope that we can continue to chart a path toward greater collaboration throughout 2020 and beyond…
On the note of collaboration, I would consider it a missed opportunity if I didn’t echo Meghan’s comments earlier…
The gap between the rich and poor unfortunately continues to widen in Mississauga and it’s important that we all step up and do what we can to help close the gap.
One of the ways in which you have shown your support in the past is by generously donating food and funds to my city-wide annual food drive.
While Thanksgiving may seem like a lifetime away, I’m asking that you start thinking about how you can mobilize your communities to participate and help us get one step closer to ending poverty and hunger in our city.
Thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity.
Once again, thank you for joining us this morning and for everything you do as faith leaders, elected officials, first responders and educators, to ensure that our City remains one of the most inclusive and welcoming cities in the world.”
Media Contact: Nicole McInerney