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"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

Dalai Lama speaks to McGill & Montreal

October 12, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize winner emphasizes the importance of compassion

By EMILY CLARE
McGill Daily - October 8, 2009

This Saturday, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama made two presentations in
Montreal, one to a 500-person invite-only event hosted by McGill's Faculty
of Education, and a second to a crowd of 14,000 people at the Bell Centre.

The 74-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner felt compelled to request a private
audience with education students after he learned of the provincial
government's introduction of a controversial ethics and religious culture
class to primary and secondary students throughout Quebec.

During both addresses, the Dalai Lama emphasized the need for a balance
between intellectualized faith and secular ethics.

"His Holiness was interested in speaking with students involved to support
the notion that human values, ethical issues, and respect for religious and
secular traditions is a positive initiative," said education professor
Spencer Boudreau, McGill's ombudsperson and the main organizer of the event.
"[Religion] is part of our culture and history; it's a powerful force in the
world [that] we've neglected," Boudreau said.

Due to the limited tickets available for the McGill talk, the McGill
organizing committee decided to stream the two-hour event on
learnquebec.org, where it is still available to site users.

During the McGill address, the Dalai Lama stressed to education students
that instilling a positive religious tolerance in youth was critical for a
compassionate society.

"Please carry your profession with sincere motivation and a sense of global
responsibility," the Dalai Lama said. "At least, with some aim or goal
[that] out of this century, a more compassionate world [will come]."

Mitchell Miller, the president of the Education Undergraduate Society, had
the opportunity to sit with the Dalai Lama. Miller was selected to thank His
Holiness on behalf of the anglophone universities in Quebec.

"Sometimes it feels like there is a lot of unnecessary self-deprecation
among students in this faculty. [The Dalai Lama's visit] was a reaffirmation
for us as educators of the power that we can have," Miller said.

Heather Monroe-Blum served as the master of ceremonies.

Later that day, during his presentation at the Bell Centre, His Holiness
asserted that he had no political or spiritual agenda. Instead, he hoped to
articulate the need of shared links between humanity, to be compassionate,
and work to make the world a better place.

"I am talking as a human being to another human being. Not as a monk,
Buddhist, or Tibetan," he said.

Nonetheless, the event took on a political tone as Chinese and Uyghur
protesters assembled outside. Tibet has been administered and controlled by
the People's Republic of China since it occupied the territory in 1950. The
Dalai Lama, recognized as the exiled political leader of Tibet, fled the
territory in 1959 and is seen as a threat to the national identity and
integrity of China.

"It's our country. We love it,"one Chinese protester said, standing calmly
with several others in objection to the Dalai Lama's visit to Montreal. A
couple of Tibetans yelled at them to leave Canada and go back to China.

Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic minority from Western China, also demonstrated in
solidarity with the Tibetans. They called on China to recognize their human
rights, stating that they were "the other Tibetans."
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