Prominent speakers address justice and reconciliation

7 September 2012

MONTREAL — The establishment of justice and genuine reconciliation demands greater attention to the challenging work of rebuilding human relationships on the basis of love and mutual regard across historical barriers of injustice and ignorance.

That was among the messages conveyed by distinguished contributors to the 36th conference of the Association for Baha'i Studies which attracted more than 1,400 participants here, 9-12 August 2012.

Former Canadian Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler MP, gave a personal account of the principles that he has striven to apply throughout his career. His observations ranged from efforts to help dissidents before the collapse of the Soviet Union through to initiatives to advance justice in the Middle East today, including in Iran.

Lawyer Louise Mandell Q.C. – a renowned Aboriginal rights advocate – spoke about the contribution all citizens can make to reconciliation, through their personal, family and community lives.

"Social change happens in the hearts and minds of people, causing them to act differently," she said. "The force of reconciliation can only be carried out by the society."

Referring to the presence in Canada exactly a century ago of 'Abdu'l-Baha, Ms. Mandell added, "The key to reconciliation – and 'Abdu'l-Baha led the way – is through unity in diversity."

Lawyer and Aboriginal rights advocate Louise Mandell – pictured left – participating in the 36th conference of the Association for Baha'i Studies North America, held in Montreal, 9-12 August 2012.SLIDESHOW
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Lawyer and Aboriginal rights advocate Louise Mandell – pictured left – participating in the 36th conference of the Association for Baha'i Studies North America, held in Montreal, 9-12 August 2012.

The program of the conference was designed to reflect many of the subjects addressed by 'Abdu'l-Baha – the eldest son of Baha'u'llah and His appointed successor as head of the Baha'i Faith – during His historic journey to the United States and Canada in 1912.

During His stay in Montreal from 30 August to 9 September 1912, 'Abdu'l-Baha's talks ranged across a number of issues of public concern – including the rights of women, the elimination of prejudice and racism, universal education, justice and peace.