Québec, June, 20th 2017 (SIGNIS). « Building Peace and Hope in a world of cultural and religious diversity » was the first plenary of the day. As our world is Hyper-diverse, there is a need for media, and especially faith-based media, to address the issues of racism and to reach a young audience.

To launch the discussion, Abdul-Rehman Malik, director of the Insight Film Festival, screened the short film “Inspire”, by Shehroze Khan, which explores how different people, from different faiths, culture and backgrounds, can all be united by positive actions.

“Storytelling and quality research are the key to change people’s understanding of reality”, says Patrice Brodeur, from the International Dialogue Center in Vienna. Positive stories need to be shared, as we live in a world filled with bad news. Jaime Carril Rojas, from the Latin American interreligious network on peace education, explained how he utilizes television to create campaign that build bridges amongst people. A bit like the Tv channel Salt & Light does. Their motto is “opening doors and building bridges”. They create programmes that create interreligious dialogue. Tom Rosica, founder and CEO, explains that they are employing young people to keep the content fresh, and that comes from different background and cultures. It is important to have “solid beautiful content”, and “not to focus on the number of hits on social media”.

The importance of reaching young people was the center of the next plenary. Since 2009, SIGNIS has been “building the next generation of communicators”. The project is now called CommLab, and gathers young people from different nationalities once a year, to learn and improve their skills as media professionals. Lawrence, from Kenya, reminded how important it is to include young people into the professional world. Less and less young people want to be involved in the Church activities, because “it is not cool”, but also because they feel that the ‘older’ won’t let them in, and don’t trust them enough. Vi Cao says that “young people is not just linked to the age of the person”. She adds that SIGNIS is building the “next generation of communicators”, but that the “next generation is a question of spirit: if you have a young heart, an open mind and you are open to new technologies, then you are part of this next generation”.

Two plenaries filled with hope and confidence in the future, that have inspired the SIGNIS World congress participants.

Pictures by Samuel Tessier