Over 80 conferences are taking place across Canada alongside thousands of others around the world that are examining how to build vibrant communities that reflect the oneness of humanity. These community-based gatherings are strengthening a shared vision of how to work for the betterment of the world.
The conferences each began by reflecting on elements of the vision for humanity contained in the teachings of Baha’u’llah. Participants considered how they are learning to raise the consciousness of the local population of the spiritual qualities and attitudes that are needed to contribute to the betterment of society. They proceeded to examine the history of progress towards this vision in their community and reflect on further steps they could make to the transformation of the lives of the people in their local area.
The first of these conferences was held in April, and most will be convened in the coming months. Ontario’s initial gathering was held at Boréal College in Sudbury and was attended by some 255 people. The conference began with a lively presentation on the spiritual and material progress of local youth participating in Baha’i community-building activities. Children and youth held another plenary session on the theme of the power of spiritual education. Art was performed throughout the sessions in the form of music, storytelling, and Indigenous dance.
The impact of the conference on participants was visible in their understanding of the importance of spiritual and material education to build a dynamic community and their recognition of adopting outward looking towards their community.
Another conference in Barrie was attended by 300 participants over two days. The spirit of the gathering was enhanced when children and the youth shared their collective arts and service projects with audiences. The plans were developed through small group discussions to further explore possibilities of contributing to the positive transformation of their communities.
In Outaouais, Quebec 180 participants came together for a vibrant conference inaugurated with an Indigenous honour song shared by a 13-year-old Algonquin participant. The conference featured artistic expression, including collaborative art, poetry, dance and pottery workshops. One participant stated: “Everybody learns through the creation of things collectively, which demonstrates the quality of cooperation and mutual assistance.”
A total number of 550 friends from across six communities joined a Vancouver conference. The gathering was opened by Musqueam Elder Shane Ponte, who offered blessings to the participants and their collective endeavours. Participants drew inspiration from the consultation in a welcoming and participative environment of the conference. Some of the small groups attending the conference met immediately afterwards to plan the next phase of developing their own project teams, reflecting on the ideas generated in the conference and setting up home visits to others to convey the spirit of conference.
An Eastern Ontario conference welcomed 200 participants came from 5 surrounding communities, supported by volunteers from Ottawa. “Here everyone could see not only a clear vision, but also everyone has a plan for building the community,” said Ravin Appadoo. Participants planned to hold follow-up sessions, carry on the conversations and hold smaller conferences in their local communities.