News Story

Montreal Youth Contest Encourages Building Bridges

A Building Bridges Awards Ceremony was held at Montreal City Hall on June 4, 2018. It honoured 18 students for their winning submissions in the Building Bridges Youth Contest. The Christian-Jewish Dialogue of Montreal, in collaboration with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA Quebec) and the City of Montreal, launched the contest in memory of the late Dr. Victor Goldbloom.

Dr. Victor Goldbloom, a leader in intercultural and interfaith dialogue, wished to inspire a younger generation to engage in dialogue by building bridges of understanding between the diverse linguistic, cultural and religious communities of Montreal.

The contest was open to students from 9 to 17 years of age and was an opportunity for youth to showcase their artistic and writing talents on the theme of living together in harmony.

Five students who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were among the winners. They were:

  • H. Andrew Osmond, age 13, for his artwork entitled “Reaching Out.”
  • Sophie Koestner, age 16, for her video submission addressing food security.
  • Chen Zhang Rui, age 15, for a drawing representing how we see each other through the lens of our own diverse and unique eyes.
  • Timothy John Osmond, age 11, for his comic strip addressing how to build bridges of friendship.
  • Katelyn Wendt, age 9 for her drawing representing the diversity of languages and ethnic groups worldwide.

Andrew Osmond’s artwork entitled “Reaching Out” won first place and depicts people forming a human bridge with their bodies over a dangerous waterfall. He described the different colours as representing diverse cultures working together to reach out to those in need. He said, “We should all help each other, even if we are different. I want people to see that we need each other every day. We are all special, and our differences make us strong.”

Students at the event heard from Professor Jean Duhaime, who received the Victor Goldbloom Prize for his contribution to interfaith dialogue in Montreal. Professor Duhaime reflected on the importance of building bridges between cultural and religious groups. He reminded youth to not be “satisfied with having built bridges and assuming that all our problems are (then) solved. There is always room for improvement in the quality of our relationships.” He encouraged youth to continue building bridges because “this project is vast and there is room for all” in this work. He invited the youth to be creative in their efforts to reach out to others.

City Councillors Magda Popeanu, vice president of Montreal’s executive committee and member responsible for Montreal diversity, and Sue Montgomery, mayor of the Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, offered greetings from the city of Montreal.

Reverend Diane Rollert, one of the event organizers, told the students that she was personally touched by the profoundly thoughtful entries received from Montreal’s youth. “Seeing the work of the winners has given me much needed hope for this world. I want to say thank you to all of the youth contestants for restoring my faith in the future.”

Latter-day Saints Kelsey and Kameron Lahache, who are Mohawk from Kahnawake, opened the ceremony by singing “True Colours.” Their song highlighted the beauty of diversity in our communities. A choir from Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom synagogue, accompanied by Steven Ward, a member of a local Latter-day Saint congregation, closed the event by singing "Gesher Tsar Me'od." The lyrics to this Hebrew song state that the world is a narrow bridge and the important thing is not to be afraid.

Jean B Bingham, Relief Society general president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, encouraged building bridges among faith-based organizations when she spoke at the United Nations in New York City in 2017. She said, “We need to build bridges among faith-based organizations, understand each other’s work and cooperate more.”

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