By Dr. Kathy Yamashita

Choir/Albertaandnorthwestconference

Dr Yamashita (centre) at a choir practice for the Celebration of Ministry service where she was installed as Conference President last spring in Old

On Saturday night, September 30th, a Somali refugee was taken into custody for an attack upon a police officer and four pedestrians in Edmonton.  He had been investigated previously for espousing extremism and an alliance with Islamic state.

My interpretation of our faith prompts me to say three things about this event:

Firstly, let us be thankful that the attacks did not result in deaths.  A knife and two motor vehicles were the weapons used in Edmonton.  I thank God that we live in a country where guns are scarce and the impact of a single gunman’s actions can not kill 59 people and injure 500 more, as just happened in Las Vegas . In Canada we hold a significant reverence for life as a national quality.

Secondly, let us be thankful that the Edmonton police officers did not use lethal force when they arrested the  man. I don’t know of many instances where an attempt to murder a fellow police officer would be met with a stun gun.  I thank God for the well-trained and brave people who were the peace officers on duty on Saturday night.

Thirdly, let us not use this episode to make any assumptions about our brothers and sisters of Islam. The perpetrator of the mayhem is an individual who experienced frightful conditions in his home country which made him a refugee. While there is nothing that can rationalize his actions, we need to understand that he must have suffered harm in his own homeland.  Our Faith prompts us not to respond to this event with hate.

In a pastoral letter written this past March just before the International Day for the Elimination of Racism, Moderator Jordan Cantwell wrote: “As Christians, we must root out fear, and commit to spiritual and social practices that help us to ground our actions and attitudes in love. If we give in to fears based on religious or racial grounds, we will be providing fertile ground for hate and extremism to flourish. Let us instead cultivate love, understanding, and acceptance of each other.”  The General Council re-issued the Moderator’s words on Monday in regards to Sunday’s attacks in Edmonton.

My prayers are for healing for the all of the victims of the attacks in Edmonton and praise for the actions of the peace officers. In doing so I know that I join my prayers with those of our Muslim friends.  I pray for the love of God to comfort all who have been affected by the violence in Edmonton and in Las Vegas.

Blessings to all,
Kathy Yamashita

Dr. Kathy Yamashita is President of Alberta and Northwest Conference. She lives in Lethbridge where she is a family physician.