The Association for Baha’i Studies–North America warmly invites you to attend its 36th Annual Conference, to be held at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal, Canada, over the weekend of August 9-12, 2012. The theme of this year’s conference is “The Vision of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s for North America,” in honour of the 100th anniversary of His visit. All are invited to explore this theme from multiple perspectives through a series of plenary talks, and by participating in smaller simultaneous breakout sessions where exploring detailed ideas with greater participation is possible. In addition to theme-related sessions, the conference breakout sessions always include a diverse and engaging range of topics. (Read the Conference Theme Statement.)
This year’s plenary program reflects upon the implications of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit from multiple perspectives. Douglas Martin opens the plenary sessions with his own review of the significance of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit, drawing on his training as an historian and his extensive years of service to the Faith as a member of the Canadian National Spiritual Assembly and the Universal House of Justice, and director-general of the Baha’i International Community’s Office of Public Information at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa.
Friday morning’s program is a reflection on contemporary social issues and their changes over the past 100 years. Louise Mandell, Queen’s Council, one of Canada’s leading thinkers on Aboriginal rights and law, will consider the changing place of Aboriginal peoples in Canadian society. Following her talk, Dr. June Manning Thomas addresses inner city poverty, Dr. Mina Yazdani, the issue of religious fanaticism, and Chief Douglas White III, the spiritual dimensions of the struggle for equality and justice for Indigenous peoples, in a panel moderated by Dr. Roshan Danesh.
On Saturday, a panel of educators considers ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s vision of spiritual education in the context of His visit to Montreal. Professor Luc Begin, a prominent Quebec academic and an advisor to the Government of Quebec on questions of ethics, joins professors Claire Lapointe and Lyse Langlois. Dr. Robert Henderson, management consultant, diversity training executive, and member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, explores the changes in thought and practice on diversity and models of unity. The 30th Hasan M. Balyuzi Memorial Lecture, will be delivered this year by sociologist Dr. Shapour Rassekh who will elucidate on assumptions about the purpose and meaning of ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to North America.
On Sunday morning, the Baha’i community’s response to ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit is explored. Historian Robert Stockman addresses “What ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s visit teaches us,” followed by several examples of the profound changes within the community. Journalist and author Patricia Verge will speak on the history of the Jim and Melba Loft, the first Aboriginal believers in Canada, and discuss with Bob Watts, their grandson and a prominent Aboriginal leader and administrator, the collaborative process of writing their story. Dr. Louis Venters, historian, will trace the process of reshaping race relations and the discourse on race in the South Carolina Bahá’í community of the early 1900s.
Member of Continental Board of Counsellors, Dr. Ann Boyles will also address the conference, and the Association is pleased to screen portions of the film, Luminous Journey: ‘Abdu’l-Baha in America, 1912 produced by Anne and Tim Perry of Perry Productions.
Hotel and Registration: Registration and hotel information
Conference registration and hotel information are available on the ABS website. For further inquiries, please contact the Association for Baha’i Studies, 34 Copernicus St., Ottawa, ON, Canada K1N 7K4; tel.: 613-233-1903; fax: 613-233-3644; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration Fees: After July 31st registration fees will be charged at the on-site rate.
Hotel reservations must be made directly with the conference hotel, Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, 900 Rene- Levesque West, Montreal, QC H3B 4A5. To book your room, please call the Reservations Department at 514-861-3511; or call toll-free from North–America at 1-800-441-1414. Mention the Association for Baha’i Studies to receive the special conference rate or use booking code “BAHAI12.” You can also book online. Room rates are $139 CDN single/double. Additional room occupants will be charged $20 per night. There will be no charge for children up to and including the age of 18 years who share with their parents. Maximum occupancy per room is 4 persons. These rates are guaranteed only until July 27 2012. Reservations made after the cut-off date will be based on availability at the Hotel’s prevailing rates. The conference rates are extended to four days before and after the conference dates.
Visit to the Shrine of ‘Abdu’l-Baha
Take advantage of your stay in Montreal to visit the only Baha’i Shrine in the West, the Maxwell home. This sacred spot is unique in the world, since it is the only Baha’i shrine outside of the Holy Land and those places in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey where the Bab and Baha’u’llah have resided or sojourned. Even though ‘Abdu’l-Baha stayed in other homes in Europe and America, the Maxwell home in Montreal is the only place officially designated a “Shrine.” It was therefore a great honour and privilege conferred upon Canada and the city of Montreal. The Shrine will have extended visiting hours over the conference period and one day before and after the conference dates. Contact and visiting hour information can be found on the Baha’is of Montreal website.
Faculty/Student Workshop: Scholarship in the Context of the Plans
A faculty/student workshop on scholarship in the context of the plans is scheduled for Thursday. It will offer a forum to learn and consult about aspects of Baha’i scholarship and service most relevant to faculty and students, and an opportunity to devise strategies for possible implementation on campuses. Interactive workshops are dedicated to learning about the relationship between scholarship and the Covenant, the nature of learning, the place of scholarship in the processes of growth and core activities, and enhancing the role of campus groups to become forums to begin learning about “participation in the prevalent discourses of society.”
The Special Interest Groups of the Association will hold informal discussion sessions this year on Friday, August 10, from noon to 2:00 p.m. At the SIG Circle event, the SIGs will organize display tables and provide opportunities for discussions with interested members.
Artistic presentations are integrated throughout the ABS conference, including in the devotional programs. There will be an evening program devoted to the arts as well as “After hours” sessions with impromptu musical performances.
Special session will be conducted in Persian with Dr. Shapour Rassekh during the conference.
Be sure to register your children for the educational Children’s and Junior Youth Program at the annual conference. The Children’s Conference program will include speakers from the main conference as well as other activities addressing the conference theme. Important note to parents: children must be preregistered by July 31 2012.
Conference program updates
For the latest conference updates, and to download the full conference program, please visit the ABS website.