what's that floating in my river? the multicultural balancing act

A big story in Canada recently revolved around the ejection of a girl wearing a hijab from a soccer field in Quebec. Although opinion is always divided on these issues, it seemed to me that most public opinion was opposed to the referee's decision, and FIFA's unfortunate decision to allow it to stand in the name of local ref autonomy.

A similar type of story, though lesser known, is being played out in the Ontario's Peel Region, where I live. As part of their traditional worship, Hindu people have been "leaving offerings" - flowers, statues, jewelry - in the Credit River and other creeks in the area. In addition, people have been releasing the ash remains of cremated bodies into the river.

In the past, it was more common to send ashes to India, to be released into the Ganges. But now the Hindu people of Peel often have little connection to India. They are Canadians, and they want the ashes of their loved ones to be released in Canada.

What to do? One person's offerings are another person's pollution. People need to freely practice their religion, and it's their unequivocal right to do so. But dumping - placing, offering - things into the waterways is harmful, and illegal. In response, many Hindu people are leaving the offerings secretly, at night.

Hindu leaders in Mississauga want to work with the local government to find a compromise - a place where the community can release ashes into the water safely and legally.

It's an interesting problem, and if not unique to the Peel Region, certainly not something you'd hear about in most North American communities.

Toronto Star article here.

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