The Ottawa Bahá'í Centre
I knew virtually nothing about
the Bahá'í faith when I walked into the Ottawa Bahá'í Centre on
McArthur Avenue last week. This week, I know a little more.
Heather Harvey, the centre manager, says that there are about 1,000
Bahá'ís in Ottawa. Those of the Bahá'í faith, founded in Iran in 1844,
believe that all other world religions are different manifestations of
the same God and that Bahá'í is God’s revelation for this day and age.
Bahá'í is a religion without clergy. Instead, they use a system of
elected representatives. One of its founding principles, says Harvey,
is equality, particularly between men and women.
Heather Harvey’s aunt, Winnifred Harvey, became the first Bahá'í to
live in Ottawa in 1940. Harvey says that her aunt was instrumental in
her conversion to Bahá'í. Raised in a Christian family, at age eight
Harvey told her aunt about archeological evidence she had heard of for
Noah’s flood. Her aunt told her that other religions had flood stories,
“She told me, ‘There is only one religion,’ and that stuck with me for
the rest of my life.”
Tonia Pera, born in Spain, became a Bahá'í at age 21. Disillusioned
with her deeply Catholicized nation and the various systems of belief
she tried out, she realized that she wanted to be part of the
“There were things in my heart that were already Bahá'í,but I didn’t
know there were other people who believe the same way,” she says.
Margaret Ram was born into a Bahá'í family in Iran and says she chose
Bahá'í because, among other reasons, it meant she “wouldn’t have to
ignore all the other religions.”