Reverened Canon Dr Gregory Jenks, dean of the Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton lights a candle in preparation for the vigil service to be held in the church.
Reverened Canon Dr Gregory Jenks, dean of the Christ Church Cathedral in Grafton lights a candle in preparation for the vigil service to be held in the church. Adam Hourigan

PM Jacaranda invite 'stroke of genius'

THE Invitation extended to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to the Jacaranda Festival has been congratulated by some prominent figures in the community.

The Dean of Grafton Dr Greg Jenks said the decision to invite Ms Ardern, the Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel and the Imam of the Al Noor Mosque to the Jacaranda Festival this year was a "stroke of genius".

"No doubt such a visit would present some logistical challenges and perhaps even some security challenges," he said.

Regardless, he said it would be a "wonderful opportunity" to celebrate Ms Ardern's "courageous and compassionate leadership".

"To affirm our commitment to respond to terrorism with compassion and inclusiveness. This is not just about Christchurch, it also expresses our response to terrorist attacks in Bali, Paris, Sri Lanka and a seemingly endless list of innocent targets."

"The best response to hatred is not a monument, but a renewed commitment to our best values. As a healthy and inclusive community, we choose love, compassion, tolerance and solidarity."

Dr Jenks attended the Religious Communities Forum at Parliament House in Sydney this morning to discuss the situation in Grafton following the Christchurch massacre.

An invitation sent to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern by the Jacaranda Festival has reignited an ugly backlash.
An invitation sent to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern by the Jacaranda Festival has reignited an ugly backlash. David Alexander

 

A community group created to welcome migrants to the Valley has echoed Dr Jenks sentiment.

Languages Other Than English With Us chair Rathi Ramanathan said whilst our community "should not have to feel responsible" we should take the opportunity to extend our kindest hospitality.

"The terrorist could have come from any town in Australia. But we do need to understand that regional towns could be more welcoming to migrants and we know many migrants continue to feel isolated and anxious," she said.

"Given the population pressures of cities, migrants should be encouraged to stay in regional towns and only through a multicultural lens will the Clarence Valley be able to attract migrants to come and stay on in the Valley."

Ms Ramanathan said LOETUS has received complaints from people of colour who have been subjected to racial abuse in the aftermath of the Christchurch attack.

"It is unfortunate that a small number of people have felt emboldened by the Christchurch massacre and are using it as an excuse to intimidate ethnic minorities in Grafton," she said.

"Rightly or not, Grafton has been in the spotlight given the terrorist was a man who grew up in this community, but the tragedy offers the Clarence community an opportunity to reflect on, as well as reinforce, its commitment to the values of compassion, respect for differences and inclusiveness particularly for people from diverse backgrounds, specifically including the Muslims who live amongst us."

Ms Ramanathan said the presence of Ms Ardern would bring positive attention to our much loved festival.

LOETUS has partnered with the Clarence Forum, and other Community groups to encourage, support, and explore different points of view around the issue of inclusion and the reflection regarding the aftermath of Christchurch.



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