file photo

file photo

Letter to the Editor: Diversity includes faith and religion

Letter to the Editor by Dan DeWolf

Dear Editor,

Our mayor and others have spoken recently about diversity and inclusion. It’s a worthy topic, and I would like to add some discussion to what has been said.

Inclusion should refer to all people on all sides of an issue. For example, when we talk about inclusion we frequently refer to various minority groups, often at the expense of those who are considered to be majority groups. This understanding of inclusion forgets that all people need inclusion, understanding and acceptance. It is not reserved strictly for the few, and it does not imply that the few are marginalized because of the many. Here is my point: there is a large community of principled faithful believers in Wetaskiwin. I am talking about all of the faith communities that add to the wonderful fabric and much of the strength of our city.

Recently, the Camrose Open Door group proposed a shelter and integrated care hub for homeless people in Wetaskiwin. City council selected a site near the south edge of the city, in the location of a former muffler shop. This building was not zoned for the desired use, so the city attempted to change the zoning. Several people representing homeowners and residents in the area of the proposed site objected to the rezoning, citing a number of issues with vandalism and crime in the area. A petition, which was put forward by one of those representatives, was rejected on technical grounds by council. When a lawyer representing a neighboring church objected to the proposal because of perceived improper legal handling of the zoning issue, council voted in a majority decision to abandon that site. The former City Hall building (now called the Civic Building) was chosen, and the project proceeded.

In newspaper articles of several weeks ago, it was mentioned that several groups made donations to the Hub. The donations were modest, but still appreciated. What was not mentioned in the articles, however, was that the church whose lawyer made the initial objection also donated a very generous amount to the Hub. The church may not wish to advertise this act of charity, but it seems to be an oversight that the good done by this community of faith was overlooked by the mayor and the press. As was mentioned by a representative at the council meeting, the church is not opposed to the provision of a suitable service for the homeless, and remains firmly dedicated to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which espouses care for the poor and needy.

The people of this specific faith community are not alone. There are over a dozen different churches in Wetaskiwin. This would represent a noteworthy proportion of the population of Wetaskiwin, and a community of significant influence for good in the city. The faith congregations in Wetaskiwin have been proactive in helping those in need long before the Hub or any city sponsored organization was inclined to do so, often without grants from government or other organizations. Our groups have fed the poor, provided accommodations for the homeless, paid utilities and debts for the needy, and collected food donations for local food banks, and donated clothing and necessities in addition to time and volunteer service over the years. Without the contributions of all of the faith communities within Wetaskiwin and area, our quality of life would be diminished.

Because of my belief in the religious principles of my faith community, I have felt encouraged to serve on various boards and committees over the past 25 years or so, including Victim Services, the Community Learning Council, the Library Board, and the Spell Society. Obviously, people not specifically associated with any church still serve voluntarily in the community, but I believe it is time to acknowledge the influence and contribution for good that the various church congregations have had in this city. A city which espouses principles of inclusion and diversity should also recognize and be especially welcoming of all who contribute, including those who contribute because of religious principles and a desire to do well in our community. If those principles occasionally seem to conflict with current popular practices, we need to be cognizant of the intentions of all groups, and the need for acceptance and understanding of all parties. In the end, we are all looking for a happier, more prosperous and more diverse and inclusive community.

— Dan DeWolf

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta begins rolling out AstraZeneca COVID vaccine for those aged 40 or older

There are more than 70 pharmacies offering AstraZeneca, including 26 offering walk-in appointments

A child writes in their school notebook during a home schooling session in Cremona, Alta., Monday, March 23, 2020, amid the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Thousands of students in Calgary will shift to online learning as of today in a bid to curb rising COVID-19 infection rates in the city. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Online classes begin for some Alberta students amid rising COVID-19 cases

Alberta currently has the highest rate of active COVID-19 cases in the country

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Alberta joins Ontario in lowering minimum age for AstraZeneca vaccine

More than 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca have been administered in this country

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,516 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

Central zone has 1,849 active cases

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Most Read