According to Statistics Canada from 2006-2011 over 2000 religious immigrants moved to Lethbridge, of those over half were considered Christian. Alongside Christianity another 200 associated themselves with Hinduism, and just fewer then 200 considered themselves Muslims. With so much religious diversity within Lethbridge one has to wonder the impact that the variety has on the community.
One organization that has been associated with religious diversity within the community is the Lethbridge Islamic Centre. Zeeshan Ahmed recently moved to Lethbridge from Calgary to become the Imam or religious director of the centre. Ahmed stressed how the wide assortment of faith in Lethbridge creates a more kind and humble small town atmosphere.
“I think it all promotes to this good environment that we have here, this kindness and this affection. We are all human and we have the concerns and the same things we need to do as any other person of any other religion.”
A different, less recognizable, but still prominent faith in Lethbridge would be the Bahá’í community. The fundamental idea behind Bahá’í is that all religions of the world have come from one God and are in spirit sequential chapters of one religion from God. Mohsen Seyed Mahmoud is a Bahá’í believer, he emphasized that the ultimate goal of Bahá’í is a world where everyone regardless of faith work together to complete common goals.
“A utopian world is one in which all religions and facets of society recognize each other and work in unison. That is the ultimate goal of the Bahá’í faith.”
All religious beliefs aside, from an educational stand point Hillary Rodrigues teaches religious studies at the University of Lethbridge. Rodrigues has travelled the world and is the recipient of the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award. He articulated that religious diversity is linked to cultural diversity, so the increase in one aspect of cultural variety is not just connected to Lethbridge, but Canada as a whole.
“With cultural diversity comes religious diversity, because religions are the things that are deeply meaningful to people from different cultures. So Canada in a way demonstrates that even though religions can divide people, they actually enhance tolerance and that we are enriched by discovering something about other people’s cultures. ”
With the population of Alberta growing from an estimated 3.9 million in 2012 to 4.2 million in 2015 one can suspect the amount of diversity within this province we call home will continue to increase.