LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR’S AWARD FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF INTERRELIGIOUS UNDERSTANDING

Remarks by
The Honourable Janice Filmon, C.M., O.M.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba

Government House
Monday, January 7, 2019 – 5:00 p.m.

Searchers for truth, seekers of justice, builders of a better world – it is an honour to join you again for this annual celebration of interreligious understanding.

We are gathered on Treaty One land, on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and the homeland of the Metis people.

Today, we are coming together during the coldest and darkest time of year to celebrate the power of faith to light the darkness.

There are times when the news threatens to overwhelm our hope that we are building a better and more just world.

At times, when evil seems to run free and unrestrained, it seems that humankind has learned nothing, that the phrase “never again” has fallen on deaf ears.

And at those times, the work of people like Michel Aziza becomes even more important.

When ISIS was running rampant in the Middle East, when genocide against the Yazidi people called up memories of the Holocaust, Michel Aziza did not just shake his head in disgust or horror or resignation.

Taking a lifetime’s expertise forging connections, motivating people and managing projects, he built a movement that sought to ignite a light against the darkness.

And as we have seen over the past few years, his spark ignited a flame in the hearts of many Manitobans from many faith communities.

Today, Manitoba has welcomed well over 300 Yazidis seeking safety and human rights – and a large number of them came though Mr. Aziza’s Operation Ezra.

In the process, Mr. Aziza and the interfaith coalition he built taught many of us a new expression. We learned that Operation Ezra is an example of “Tikun Olam” in practice.

Tikun Olam is the obligation to rebuild a damaged world. Cruelty damages the world. Injustice damages the world. Lack of opportunity damages the world.
In his song Anthem, Leonard Cohen sang about the damages that we can repair in ourselves and our world.

“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Michel Aziza, thank you for letting the light in as you work to rebuild a damaged world.

Thank you. Merci. Meegwich.