From May 24-27, Baha’is from across Canada gathered at the Toronto Baha’i Centre for the annual Baha’i National Convention. The primary purpose of the Convention is to elect the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada, a nine-person consultative body that serves as the governing council for the Baha’is of Canada. The 171 delegates to the Convention are annually elected by voters in every Baha’i community, and all adult members of the Baha’i community are eligible for election to the National Assembly.
In addition to the election, delegates from all provinces and territories of Canada consult over several days on the progress and growth of the Baha’i community and its endeavours to stimulate and uplift society. These deliberations are intended to enrich the meetings of the National Assembly with insights and analysis from more than 1000 local Baha’i communities across the country.
This year, the Convention also heard inspiring reports from the International Convention held in Haifa, Israel, once every five years to elect to the Universal House of Justice. The National Convention was also honoured with remarks shared by Dr. Borna Noureddin, member of the Continental Board of Counsellors, and Dr. Firaydoun Javaheri, former member of the Universal House of Justice.
Many delegates also reflected on the recent bicentenary of the birth of Baha’u’llah, which was marked by joyful gatherings held across the country. These gatherings honoured the life and teachings of Baha’u’llah in a variety of settings, from a neighbourhood gathering at an Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Vancouver to a reception on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
One of the primary themes during the Convention this year was the role of children and youth in processes of community building. Many delegates noted how young people are moving to the forefront of local efforts to apply the Baha’i teachings to the needs of their communities. Others observed that children and youth are attracted to initiatives that engage their interests and develop their capacities to engage in meaningful service.
Another theme explored by delegates was the process of learning that is helping Baha’i communities to become more adept at applying Baha’u’llah’s teachings to their communities, and building bonds of friendship and solidarity with their friends and neighbours. Communities that are growing more quickly are developing new ways to share their insights and human resources with outlying areas, in a way that fosters the replication and organic development of activities like classes for the spiritual education of children and groups that help adolescents to develop their talents and capacities for service.
A third area of focus included the need to work for a change in culture that brings the spiritual and material aspects of community life into greater coherence. Delegates noted that this often requires the sacrifice of time and resources by growing numbers of people in order to bring about the needed transformation in our personal and collective lives.
The election of the National Spiritual Assembly took place on May 26 in a prayerful and dignified atmosphere, without electioneering, nominations, or campaigning. All 171 delegates cast votes, 156 of whom attended in person. The elected membership of the National Assembly for the coming year is: Ms. Deloria Bighorn, Ms. Karen McKye, Dr. Mehran Anvari, Mr. Ciprian Jauca, Ms. Élizabeth Wright, Dr. Gerald Filson, Ms. Hoda Farahmandpour, Ms. Judy Filson, and Mr. Enayat Rawhani.