“I desire for you eternal success and prosperity,” are the opening words of a Tablet addressed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1916 to the Bahá’ís of the United States and Canada, “and beg perfect confirmation for each one in the divine world. My hope for you is that each one may shine forth like unto the morning star from the horizon of the world and in this Garden of God become a blessed tree, producing everlasting fruits and results.”
Filling a gymnasium at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, were about 770 young people, from Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon in Canada and from Alaska in the United States, who had gathered to consult about how they could contribute more devotedly to the needs of their communities. They had come in groups by bus, car, ferry, and plane, and some combined several of these modes of transport. One group from Alberta arranged for a bus to travel from Calgary to Vancouver, and to pick up youth along the way. The 1,000-kilometre journey was long, with some delays, but filled with entertaining stories and heart-warming songs shared by both the travellers and the bus driver.
“You can’t get anywhere when you’re not supporting each other. For almost anything you do in life, you need someone to help you.”
A participant at the conference
Each morning, an uplifting devotional programme set the stage for a full day of study, consultation, and planning. Some key themes from the conference deliberations included the power of language, the need for society to advance both materially and spiritually, and the broadening of opportunities when one dedicates a significant period of time to serving one’s community. Embedded in each of these themes was an increased awareness of the critical role of assisting one another: “You can’t get anywhere when you’re not supporting each other,” shared one 15-year-old from White Rock, adding that “for almost anything you do in life, you need someone to help you.”
Over the course of three days, groups of participants discussed concrete plans to initiate or expand existing community-building activities in their neighbourhoods. Many used maps to help them with this exercise, identifying spaces where they could meet like-minded youth— schools, libraries, shops, parks, restaurants, and places of worship. One group was so eager that they planned a follow-up meeting for the coming Monday, the very night the conference was to conclude!
“The path of service is wide and it accommodates different speeds,” said Continental Counsellor Borna Noureddin, who together with Counsellor Sonlla Heern represented the Universal House of Justice at the occasion. “At different points in life you might walk more slowly or more quickly,” he added, suggesting that they consider for themselves the special opportunities available to them during their period of youth.
By the third day, many were eager to return home and apply what they had learned and discussed at the conference; some had already begun consulting with their families and other loved ones about their hopes to contribute more effectively to the betterment of their communities.
Youth registered for the conference from Alberta, British Columbia, and the Yukon in Canada and from Alaska in the United States
The participants studied the conference materials in large and small workshop groups
The youth shared their insights and consulted on how to better serve their communities
A workshop group meets outside surrounded by beautiful potted plants
Youth studied, consulted, and planned together
Youth worked on various artistic presentations to help deepen their understanding of the
A young woman from the Tlingit First Nation, together with her peers from the
Yukon, shared a healing song that she had composed, to the beat of a hand-drum.
The conference was an opportunity for the participants to reflect on the contribution they can
make to the spiritual and social development of their communities
Each group found creative ways to present what they gleaned from the workshops
The conference was filled with the sounds of joyful music
A group photo of all the participants