Montreal, October 28, 2021 – As part of McGill University’s Bicentenary Celebration, a 98 year old Bahá’í woman from African descent, was recognized for her contributions to music industry.  The exhibition was presented in September and was called “Texture, Rhythm, Rhyme”.

Unique, not only in Bahá’í history of Montreal but in also that of the city, Violet States (née Grant) recognized earlier in 2017, by the City of Montreal as one of the 20 women who contributed to build our city. In fact she has a collection of recognitions from various organizations in Verdun where she lived all her life, to Montreal and to McGill university. She graduated from this renowned education institution in 1968 as a concert pianist. She taught music and mathematics in several schools in Verdun and Montreal. She performed in an all-women orchestra in Carnegie Hall in New York City in 1943 as well as in Montreal. She was the first teacher in Montreal School Board who encouraged her students to open a Bank Saving Account for their future life. She negotiated with the Bank to allow young students to open a Bank Account, something which was not permitted in that time!

The relationship between the Bahá’í Community and McGill University goes back to the time of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to Montreal in 1912. On September 3, 1912, the principal of McGill University, Dr. William Peterson visited ‘Abdu’l-Bahá at Windsor Hotel. In the discussion He had with this prominent educator, `Abdu’l-Bahá explained sundry Bahá’í principles adding:

“These are the aims of the people of Bahá’u’lláh. Do you not wish to do the same work? You should also strive that the real oneness of the world of humanity may be realised; that mankind may be free from prejudices and relieved from wars and conflicts. It is for this that we are striving.”

In His first day in Montreal ‘Abdu’l-Bahá accompanied by Architect Sutherland Maxwell visited the city passing through the streets around McGill university. He observed :

“As only material education is imparted and only natural philosophy is taught, these universities do not produce highly talented scholars. When both the natural and the divine philosophies are expounded, they will bring forth outstanding souls and evince great advancement. The reason for the success of the Greek schools was that they combined both natural and divine philosophies.”

Since the Montreal Bahá’í Shrine has been opened to the public at the occasion of the Centenary of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visit to Montreal in 2012, numerous McGill Faculty students have regularly visited this unique house in the Western Bahá’í World blessed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s presence for nine consecutive days. Students from as far as Kyoto University, Japan visited the Shrine and marvelled at the beauty of the building as well as its furniture and other decorative objects.

Violet State, now 98 years old and in perfect heath, is living in an Elderly Home Facility in St. Henri district of Montreal, in a different world unknown to the rest of us, in peace unaware of all recognitions the university and Montreal have showered upon her.

To see the McGill Art Exhibition featuring Violet States please go to the following link :

Please scroll down the page and click on MUSIC


Photos: Curtsy of McGill University Archives

‘Abdu’l-Bahá quotes from Mahmúd Diary


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