Youth implement plans made at the conferences

Posted: 2014/10/23
Toronto youth conference participants from Brampton, Ont. perform a dance that blends together several cultures. Photo: Laura Mostmand

Toronto youth conference participants from Brampton, Ont. perform a dance that blends together several cultures. Photo: Laura Mostmand

This past summer, over 1640 youth gathered at ten youth conferences across Canada and reflected on their role in contributing to the advancement of civilization. Groups of youth have been working to implement the plans made during these gatherings, which were called by the National Spiritual Assembly, and held in Halifax, N.S., Saskatoon, Sask., Vancouver, B.C., Victoria, B.C., Calgary, Alta., Montreal, Que., Kelowna, B.C., Waterloo, Ont., Ottawa, Ont., and Toronto, Ont.

A group of youth in a Toronto neighbourhood participated in an outreach effort this past month that they had planned at the conference, with the aim of starting a junior youth group and expanding an existing children’s class. Other youth who participated in the Toronto youth conference are learning about meeting students on campus, introducing them to the sequence of institute courses, inviting them to become animators of the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Programme, and establishing an on-campus devotional gathering. A group in Thunder Bay, Ont. are exploring how to elevate their conversations with youth in an effort to double the number of those who can serve as resources in various capacities: tutors, junior youth group animators, and children’s class teachers.

One participant in a Nanaimo, B.C. outreach effort that was planned at the Victoria conference and aimed at meeting more youth, expressed the spirit of unity that pervaded the project:

Something that has really touched my heart throughout this project is the unity amongst the participants, a feeling of unity I have recently had the bounty of experiencing a few weeks ago at the Victoria conference. Despite the difference of experience and age amongst the friends at this project, similarly at the conference, it is the love we share for our Creator and our desire to serve that binds us together both spiritually and intellectually. The joy, laughter and confirmations experienced throughout these past few days, along with a love for service we share is what has kept me motivated and will continue to do so, not just in the concluding days of this project, but in the service I will contribute to my own community as well as in many other aspects of my life.

From 22 to 24 August, the Toronto youth conference— the last of the 10 youth conferences held across Canada— gathered diverse groups of youth from as far north as Iqaluit, Nunavut, to neighbourhoods in Toronto, Ont. During the opening remarks, Karen McKye, the secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of Canada, commented that the Toronto conference had gathered not just those who are representative of all the peoples of Canada, but of the world.

“So let us rejoice so much in this wonderful diversity that you represent, and drink in this experience of being together this weekend,” she said.

Youth share a song they wrote together at the Toronto youth conference.  Photo: Laura Mostmand

Youth share a song they wrote together at the Toronto youth conference.
Photo: Laura Mostmand

The youth were noticeably galvanized by the energy that, in part, stemmed from this diversity, which was harmonized by a shared sense of purpose and a desire to contribute to Bahá’u’lláh’s vision of a new world. One manifestation of this energy was the collaborative art the youth created, which was inspired by the conference themes.

A spoken word poem that expressed an ardent desire “to arise and energetically devote themselves to the service of the masses” [1], a dance that blended together different cultures, and a drama that exhibited a consideration of the coherence of all aspects of one’s individual life, were just a few of the artistic representations that uplifted the hearts of those gathered. This diversity of culture, talents and experience in a space in which youth were consulting and planning how to apply Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings to the life of humanity, was reminiscent of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s description of diversity, which compares humanity to the flowers of a garden:

Consider the flowers of a garden: though differing in kind, colour, form and shape, yet, inasmuch as they are refreshed by the waters of one spring, revived by the breath of one wind, invigorated by the rays of one sun, this diversity increaseth their charm, and addeth unto their beauty. Thus when that unifying force, the penetrating influence of the Word of God, taketh effect, the difference of customs, manners, habits, ideas, opinions and dispositions embellisheth the world of humanity. [2]

Photographs of some of the youth conferences can be seen here:

Toronto Youth Conference

Calgary Youth Conference

Ottawa Youth Conference

Waterloo Youth Conference

 Vancouver Youth Conference

[1] The Secret of Divine Civilization, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 103.

[2] Tablets of the Divine Plan, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 103.