Mourning our shared tragedies and celebrating our many heritages

By Shepparton News

It is a telling reflection on the make-up of our region that few global tragedies lack a Goulburn Valley link.

Last Friday, about 100 gathered to support 60 of our Sri Lankan families mourn the horrific events over Easter when more than 250 people were murdered in that country.

We were touched to see St Brendan’s parish open its doors last Friday to its fellow community members of Sri Lankan heritage to conduct a joint religious ceremony between people of different faiths.

Just as we were touched by people of all faiths, and none, in Shepparton coming together following the murder of 51 people in Christchurch in March.

Within a week of that awful event, hundreds descended on our Acacia St mosque, including state and federal politicians, representatives of all our religions and many other people showing their support.

Fortunately, it is not just tragedy that brings one of the most multicultural regions in the country together.

More frequently it is a celebration of our different heritages.

It is also worth noting this weekend the fantastic examples of music, drumming, dancing and cuisine on offer at St Paul’s African House on Saturday.

A taste of African Cultures is not an isolated event.

Barely a month passes without a significant heritage-based event happening in our region.

About 20 per cent of us employ a language other than English at home.

We speak Italian, Arabic, Punjabi, Mandarin, Hazaraghi and a host of other languages.

We subscribe to many religions.

About three in 10 of us self-describe as following no particular faith.

While four fifths of us were born in Australia, others hail from England, Italy, India, New Zealand, China, Afghanistan and many more.

We are one of the most diverse regions of Australia and we should all be proud of the manner in which we come together to mourn tragedy, support one another and celebrate our many heritages.