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Interfaith Show of Unity

The Trinidad and Tobago Interfaith Council (TTIC) of New York, under the patronage of the Consulate General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, hosted the first ever an Interfaith, Intercultural and Interdisciplinary program in commemoration of their Caribbean Heritage and Black History month.

The event was well attended with participants from all walks of life, representing a cross section of the Caribbean-American Diaspora.

The theme of the event: “One People, One Mission, One Victory” the “Pioneers of Social Change,” and was held at the Sri Trimurti Bhavan Temple in Queens, New York.

The program commenced with invocations by religious leaders and a welcome address by president of the mandir, Dr Dhanpaul Narine. It was followed by Dr. Glenville Ashby, the event organiser, and Chairman of the TTIC. Dr Ashby drawing on his expertise in the area of interfaith dialogue, urged participants to be actively engaged in the process of “bridge” building across the religious and ethnic divide.

The chairman and founder of the ‘Council,’ also stated that new voices and new issues are challenging our traditional understanding of whom and what we are as a people.He added that although the situations we may be experiencing may seem to be new, there are many parallels in other parts of the world, and, hence the reason for the Interfaith Event that was convened, “to promote understanding and accommodation between the two largest ethnic groups in Trinidad and Tobago.” He added that interfaith dialogue can stem the tide of instability and distrust, but only through open and sincere dialogue.

Consul General Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam addressed the need for action, reconciliation and empowerment as a vehicle to bring together people of all faiths across both the Caribbean and North American landscapes.

In this regard she (Consul General) felt committed to play a pivotal role in bringing the resources of the Consulate to contribute in a meaningful way, to strengthen and deepen the collaborative work of the Trinidad and Tobago Interfaith Council in the United States of America.

The keynote address by Prof. Imo Bakari of the University of Southern Caribbean was entitled “Global competitiveness and Success: The African Responsibility” which drew upon narratives from the Caribbean American experience.

The highlight of the event was a Panel Discussion moderated by author, Ms. Nandi Keyi Ogunlade.

Panelists were Dr. Donald Reid, author and former economist with the government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago who spoke on the topic “Theology of Caribbean American Economics and Finance.” He expressed the need for TTIC to play a critical role not only in religious affairs, but also to be equally active and involved in the economic well being of the members of the Caribbean community at large.

Dr. Dhanpaul Narine, president of Sri Trimurti Bhavan Temple spoke on the topic “Interfaith Relations: The Road Ahead” and noted that in our increasingly pluralistic societies, more interreligious dialogue and cooperation is needed if conflict fueled by religion is to be constructively addressed.

Another panelist Mr. Roland Guy, owner, Ambrosia Health Food addressed the burning issue of “High Blood Pressure in the black community: Genetic and Environmental factors” and gave us some well-placed advice on the maintenance of the body temple.

Mr. Rohan Narine President of Sadana.org spoke on the topic of “Youth, Technology and Culture” and gave the audience valuable tips for surviving and thriving in this ever changing technological world in which we live.

Mr. Ernest Skinner, Activist spoke on the topic of “Political Rights and West Indians in NY” which presented a unique immigrant perspective on this subject.

Imam Hameed Ahmed, Spiritual Leader’s topic was “Islam and Human Rights in Africa and the Caribbean” asserted that while we may be diverse yet we are all connected with the universe for we all a product of God’s creation.

Roman Catholic priest, Peter Antonius Gopaul, chose the topic: “Liberation Theology” which he noted has always been marked by tolerance and inclusiveness.

Remarks and best wishes by UWI lecturer, Dr Jerome Teelucksingh celebrating “this courageous event,” were conveyed to the audience. on the topic “Honoring Our Heroes and Promoting Unity”

In addition, Mr. Willie Chen, author and artist, brought a Special Greeting from the Chinese Trinidadian Community. Mr. Mohammed Hack of the Interfaith Council of Global Sustenance also brought greetings from his organization.

The program concluded with an intercultural presentation comprising of Poetry, Song, Dance and Steel Drum renditions by pannist Mr. Patrick Davis

Bishop Allan Baxter delivered the benediction as a fitting end to this Interfaith Convocation, extraordinaire.

Reader comments and reviews on this article can be sent to Dr Reid at dnr7mba@gmail.com

For info on TTIC, contact Dr. Glenville Ashby at glenvilleashby@writeme.com

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