Montreal hosts the 36th Annual Association for Baha’i Studies Conference

This year’s Association for Baha’i Studies Conference will be held in Montreal 9-12 August. The conference will focus on the vision of 'Abdu’l-Baha—the Head of the Baha’i Faith from 1892 to 1921—for North America.

The annual conference brings together scholars, students, and interested participants to discuss and analyze global issues. This year’s event will reflect on the implications of 'Abdu’l-Baha’s visit from multiple perspectives.

View the conference Theme Statement here.

The roster of speakers promises to produce a successful gathering this year. Douglas Martin will deliver the keynote address, and a diverse lineup of speakers has been assembled for the plenary sessions during the weekend of 9 to 12 August.

The program for the first day presents contemporary social issues and the changes that have occurred over the past 100 years. Louise Mandell, Queen’s Counsel, one of Canada’s leading thinkers on Aboriginal Law and rights, will discuss the changing role of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian society.

Following her talk, a panel moderated by Dr. Roshan Danesh will include Dr. June Manning Thomas, who will address inner city poverty. Dr. Mina Yazdani, will speak on ‘Abdu'l-Baha's guidance on the process of political change, specifically with the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1906-1911), and Chief Douglas White III, will talk about the spiritual dimensions of the struggle for equality and justice for Indigenous peoples.

The second day features a panel of educators who will comment on 'Abdu’l-Baha’s vision of spiritual education in the context of his visit to Montreal. Professor Luc Bégin, a prominent academic and an advisor to the Government of Quebec on questions of ethics, joins professors Claire Lapointe and Lyse Langlois. Dr. Robert Henderson, a management consultant, diversity training executive, and member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, will explore changes in thought and practice on the topics of diversity and models of unity.

The 30th Hasan M. Balyuzi Memorial Lecture will be delivered this year by sociologist Dr. Shapour Rassekh, who will expand on assumptions related to the meaning and purpose of 'Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to North America.

On the third day of the conference, participants will explore the Baha'i community’s response to 'Abdu’l-Baha’s visit. Historian Robert Stockman will address the topic of “What 'Abdu’l-Baha’s visit teaches us,” followed by several examples of profound changes within the community.

Journalist and author Patricia Verge will speak about Jim and Melba Loft, the first Aboriginal believers in Canada, and discuss with Bob Watts, their grandson and prominent Aboriginal leader and administrator, the collaborative process used to write their biography. Dr. Louis Venters, a historian, will trace the process of reshaping race relations and describe the discourse on race in the South Carolina Baha’i community of the early 1900s.

Dr. Ann Boyles, a member of the Continental Board of Counsellors, will also address the conference, and the Association will screen portions of the film, Luminous Journey: 'Abdu’l-Baha in America, 1912 produced by Anne and Tim Perry of Perry Productions.

While in Montreal, conference participants will have the opportunity to visit the Maxwell home. This sacred spot has special historical significance to the Canadian Baha’i community. 'Abdu’l-Baha stayed in other homes in Europe and America, but only the Maxwell home in Montreal has been officially designated as a Shrine.

Contact information and visiting hours can be found here.

For more details about the conference, travel information and registration details, please refer to the website of the Association for Baha’i Studies.