Winnipeggers concerned about the situation in Myanmar are invited to participate in a silent prayer walk on Tuesday.
The walk, which is being organized by members of the Christian, Buddhist and Muslim communities — the three main religions in Myanmar — starts at 11 a.m. at the Upper Fort Garry gate at the corner of Broadway and Main Street and will end at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.
In addition to prayers, the walk will feature a drum song, short speeches explaining the situation in Myanmar and an invitation to sign a letter to the federal government asking it to do more to stop the killing in that country.
Myanmar's military seized control of the nation in February. Mass protests since the takeover have repeatedly met with deadly response from military forces.
The walk will end with the hanging of strings of colourful origami cranes as a symbol of hope. The cranes are being provided by members of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple.
Co-organizer Thomas Novak, a member of the Roman Catholic Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, said the walk is a chance to show people in Myanmar that Canadians remember them.
"A friend in Myanmar emailed me and said the world has forgotten us," he said. "We want to show people in that country we haven’t."
Novak said ge also hopes the walk will be a voice for people from Myanmar who live in Winnipeg but are afraid to speak out.
"They are afraid for their families back home if they say anything," he said. "We are doing it on their behalf."
The walk is also a way for people of faith to show, "We are all one family, and when one is hurting we all hurt," Novak said.
Novak said the Canadian government is "being very timid" in its response.
"It should be putting pressure on the military to stop the killings, to open up space for democracy," he said.
Sensei Tanis Moore of the Manitoba Buddhist Temple says the walk is an opportunity to underscore how the Buddha was a social activist who promoted equality, inclusivity and fairness for all.
By walking and praying, participants can also show loving kindness for others, she said, adding, "When we recognize how our own health and welfare is tied up with global health and wellness, we can see the benefits to spreading and sharing loving-kindness."
Everyone is welcome to attend, from any faith or no faith, Novak said. Those who want to join the walk must wear masks, and physical distancing measures will be employed.
People who can’t make it to the walk but want to show their concern for the people of Myanmar are invited to light a candle and say a prayer at home at that time, Novak said, and to also contact their member of Parliament.
John Longhurst has been writing for Winnipeg's faith pages since 2003. He also writes for Religion News Service in the U.S., and blogs about the media, marketing and communications at Making the News.