Learn, respect and embrace our differences


Grade 11 student

Christ The King Catholic Secondary

Georgetown, Ontario 



LAST Saturday I had the opportunity to participate in the very first Interfaith Youth Forum held by Buddha’s Light Association along with Greening Sacred Spaces at the beautiful Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto to talk about faith from a youth’s perspective.

I feel that it is important for the youth of today to talk to each other about different faiths and their values. It was encouraging to see the community participating in this forum and I was glad that government representatives such as the local MP, Brad Butt (Mississauga-Streets Ville), were able to attend.

The purpose of the panel discussions was to search for similar values and inspiring experiences. These discussions were split into two different sessions. In the first session, speakers of a variety of different faiths had the opportunity to share the core elements of their faith, the youth perspectives on the positive values of our times as well as integrating faith and passion into our lives.

Panelists Harnoor Gill, Natasha Armstrong  and Steve Seungjoon Lee.
Panelists Harnoor Gill, Natasha Armstrong and Steve Seungjoon Lee.

I was a part of the first panel discussion and had the chance to talk to the audience on the relation of the Sikh way of life to the youth perspectives on the positive values of our times. My discussion revolved around how the Sikh faith started and is the youngest religion of our time as it is only 500 years old. I explained how it is important to bridge the gap between faith and the life of a teenager because of the influence media has on us nowadays. I related how peer pressure can be scary, but faith can help anyone in any situation.

Members of faiths such as Buddhism, Islam, different branches of Christianity including Catholicism, and Judaism also expressed their opinions from different perspectives in the discussions. It was a thought-provoking experience.

In the second panel discussion, there were speakers of different organizations and faiths who focused on discussing some examples and ideas of a community involvement project, youth voices on social issues and visioning the future with hope.

I found it interesting on how it was this simple to discuss these matters under one roof without judging each other’s opinions. It was certainly an atmosphere that the whole world should experience and hopefully can with the end of civil wars in various parts of the world due to race and religion.

All in all, I can take away one very important point from this Interfaith Youth Forum and it is that we must educate people to bridge the gap between people of different faiths as it keeps getting wider. We need to educate ourselves to learn, respect and embrace our differences within religion. Peace is something that we can only hope for, but stopping to judge others is something we can do right now.