Bahá'ís of Ottawa come from a variety of backgrounds, brought together
by a common belief in the oneness of humanity and the unity of
religion. We work alongside others to become a force of positive
change, applying insights from the Bahá'í teachings to bring about a
more just, peaceful and unified community.
Award for the Study of Peace and Conflict
For the past several years, the
Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Ottawa has sponsored the
Bahá'í Award for the Study of Peace and Conflict at Saint Paul
University. This award is granted on an annual basis to a deserving
full-time student entering their second
year in the Master of Arts program in Conflict Studies at St. Paul’s.
The Award recognizes academic excellence and a personal and
professional commitment to understanding the root causes of conflict
promotion of non-violent conflict resolution.
This year, Husam Alsousi was chosen to receive this award for his
thesis research entitled “Diverging Perceptions of Palestinian Youth
for the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.” Mr. Alsousi traveled to
Palestine to conduct his research with groups of university aged
in two different areas. He presented each group with the open ended
question “What is the Palestinian- Israeli conflict?” and from this
question gathered a great amount of information on the opinions of
young people both on this question and also on political affiliation.
The Award was presented by Mr. Fu’ad Foroughi on behalf of the
Spiritual Assembly on Thursday, February 27 at a noon hour seminar.
Following the award presentation, Mr. Alsousi presented his research
and responded to questions.
Religion Day Celebration in Ottawa
celebration of World Religion Day began with an Aboriginal welcome and
blessing, followed by a Baha’i prayer for unity. As in previous years,
the event at Ottawa City Hall was a well-attended celebration of
diversity, with members of a wide range of the national capital’s
religious communities represented. Representing the Mayor, Councillor
Marianne Wilkinson proclaimed 19 January 2014 as World Religion Day in
the City of Ottawa.
One of the organizers, Natalia Rodriguez of the Baha’i community,
explained that World Religion Day aims to foster understanding amongst
faith groups in the capital and to provide a forum to explore a common
theme. This year’s theme was “A Sacred Life: Beliefs in
As in previous years, there was a strong artistic component to the
event, including musical presentations by the Unitarian Church Chamber
Choir, under the direction of Jacob Caines; the Sikh Children’s Kirtan
Group and the Tamir Choir, led by Cantor Daniel Benlolo.
For the first time, this year’s
gathering featured a panel discussion.
CBC journalist Waubgeshig Rice moderated an engaging discussion between
Dan Maki, a Christian; Nadia Abu Zahra, a Muslim; Bonnie McCutcheon, a
Buddhist and Adam Moscoe, a Jew. Each in turn gave practical day to day
examples of how they put their beliefs into action, within the context
of their respective belief systems.
Devinder Tehran, whose children
sang in the Sikh Children’s
Kirtan Group, explained that she was glad to participate in the event
because it helped her kids “learn more about their world and to help
them understand how we all strive to achieve peace in our world through
All photography by Louis Brunet.
Click here for a gallery of more event
of Makhmalbaf’s “The Gardener” Ottawa
premiere of documentary film on the Bahá'í Faith
For several days in
mid-November, Ottawa’s Bytowne Cinema screened “The Gardener,” the
latest film by Iran’s award-winning producer and director Mohsen
Makhmalbaf. Makhmalbaf is not a Bahá'í, and his risky
decision to make
a film in Israel about the Bahá'í Faith constituted a double taboo for
an Iranian filmmaker. The film has received very positive reviews in
the New York Times, Variety Magazine and other publications and has won
high praise at festivals around
the world. Shidan Cummings was among
the many Ottawa Baha’is who were eager to see the film and he agreed to
provide the following review:
The Gardener (2012) “A poetic, artistic, and insightful look into
religion and its role in society. The film follows the director and
his son as they traverse the Bahá'í Shrines in Haifa and Akka, Israel.
One, an agnostic optimist about religion and its potential power to
transform society, and the other an agnostic/atheist pessimist who
argues all religions start good but become corrupt and a detriment to
The visuals were breathtaking, and although the film has a low-budget
feel, it sinks in on you halfway through that this style was indeed the
best way to portray a comfortable and casual look into spiritual and
social concepts. The filming style leaves plenty of breaks from content
for the audience to reflect on the dialogue.
Those who will get most out of the film are those looking for a thought
provoking and artistic look into religion. If you get bored easily from
a film that doesn't have non-stop action, it isn't for you.
As a Bahá'í I was most impressed
by the filmmaker's ability to select many excellent characteristics of
the Faith to portray while not being a Bahá'í himself.”