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Longueuil, Friday October 20, 2017 - An intimate concert was held in a historic hall in Longueuil, Quebec, in celebration of the Bicentenary of the Twin Birthdays of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh.

Featuring music composed by Lucie Dubé, some 100 invited guests heard the story of the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh and listened to exquisite settings of six of the Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh.

For many in the impressive, flower-filled hall, built in 1852—precisely at the time when Bahá’u’lláh was imprisoned in the Siyah Chal in Tehran—it was a first exposure to the powerful figure of Bahá’u’lláh and to the significance of His teachings in the contemporary world. Many were moved to tears by the music, the deep reverence for the text, the attention to the beauty of each detail of staging and lighting, and by the profound dignity and depth with which the significance of the subject matter was conveyed. The compositions were performed by a small choir and soloists, with the composer at the piano, accompanied by a string quartet.

The musical compositions of the Hidden Words, begun more than a year earlier, form the basis for a CD recording and booklet which briefly recounts the history of both the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh and the nature of the Hidden Words as a work of sacred scripture, each of which is sung in French. Each invited guest received a personalized gift of the CD, and all were deeply touched by this unusually generous gesture.

Virtually the entire text of the beautiful booklet was memorized by a group of young professional actors, whose expressive narration of the basic history and spiritual principles of the Faith was interspersed with the choral music, the string accompaniment, and enhanced by dramatic lighting, to spellbinding effect.

The atmosphere of the evening and the joy which suffused all the participants, many of them devoted friends of the Faith, sprang from the remarkable spirit of prayerful and intense collaboration which went into bringing it to fruition, supported from beginning to end by the sacrificial contributions of both voluntary service and funds of many individuals, the community and the local institutions.

And on the wings of the music and text, the spirit of this undertaking will live on through the Bicentenary of the Báb, and into the future, touching in turn unnumbered receptive souls, who, stirred by this sublime gift, will go on to attract others to the Cause of the Blessed Beauty.

The music may be enjoyed, purchased/downloaded at 9Star Media (https://9starmedia.com/lucie-dube-les-paroles-cachees) or by writing to the Service de Distribution Bahá’í du Québec at:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the booklet and a code for a free download of the CD.

Saint-Laurent, October 26, 2017 - The celebration of Unity in Diversity to build a better future together! - aimed at bringing together citizens who are concerned about the Laurentian community and who are eager to improve it - took place in a warm atmosphere of unity, respect and sharing at Cégep de Saint-Laurent , with the participation of about thirty people including the Mayor of Saint-Laurent, Mr. Alan DeSousa who opened the meeting with a word of welcome. The representatives of the following institutions and organizations that were part of the round table talk are as follows: CEGEP Saint-Laurent, Center for Young Immigrant Women, Saint-Laurent Social Organizations Committee, Saint-Laurent Baha'i Community, Montreal Police Service - Neighborhood Station No. 7 and YMCA Saint-Laurent. The event was organized by the Baha'i Community of Saint-Laurent in partnership with the Cégep de Saint-Laurent.

During this event of reflection and exchange, each panelist tried to define ways that should allow to achieve unity in the rich diversity of our borough. How to promote this richness, to welcome the other while respecting our values and those of others? How to understand each other, to appreciate one another and to establish harmony between all? How to combine our energies and put it in the service of the common good? How to put forward and make known our strength as a borough?

In his address, the Mayor of Saint-Laurent, Alan DeSousa, said: "This community is rich in many cultures from here and elsewhere, who have learned to live together in harmony ... We are very happy for this initiative and wish that you would share the results of your discussions. "

As a highlight to mention was the humorous testimony of a young Cégep Saint-Laurent student via a video clip on Racial Discrimination produced by the Cégep. There was the enthusiasm of the members of the round table for the idea of unity in diversity and which were themselves united and complementary in their statements about what can be done, concretely, to promote true unity in diversity. Also note the richness of the remarks during the period of exchange and discussions with all the participants, without forgetting the social part which allowed us to forge bonds of friendship!

The photo shows: Alan DeSousa, Mayor of Saint-Laurent, Ariane Bureau, Pedagogical Advisor for Student and Intercultural Life at Cégep de Saint-Laurent and Round Table Facilitator, Gigi Vidal, Director of the Community Affairs Office of the Baha’i Community Montreal, Régine Alende Tshombokongo, CEJFI Director, Margot L.-Leonard, the representative of the Baha'i Community of Saint-Laurent, COSSL Executive Director, Maria Ximena Florez, Director of the YMCA Saint-Laurent, Marie-Josée Meilleur, the pedagogical advisor in French at Cégep de Saint-Laurent, Rosine Sicignano, the pedagogical advisor of the Continuing Education Direction, Cécile Hernu, the Commander of the Montreal Police Service, Neighborhood Station No. 7, Cédric Couture, and the young comedian Mehdi Agnaou.

Montreal, April 23, 2013 - On the occasion of “The 2017 Volunteer Recognition Brunch”, a delegation from the Laurentian Bahá'í Community and dozens of other community organizations were invited to the “Centre des loisirs”, the Community Centre, by the Borough of Saint-Laurent.
 
Mayor Alan DeSousa and Borough Councilors received over 300 people who represented more than 70 volunteer organizations in Saint-Laurent during the 21st Volunteer's Brunch. Thanks to our volunteers, remarked in his thank-you speech, the Mayor stressed the importance of community work and its influence on peace and tranquility in this borough.
 
During the recognition ceremony, photos of the activities of the Bahá'í youth and children, some Community events and the objectives behind our activities to improve society, were presented to the public in the form of a slideshow on a large screen!
 
The Borough of Saint-Laurent includes some 70 ethnic groups, the largest diversity in Montréal. Over one hundred languages and dialects are spoken in this Borough. 53% of the population is composed of immigrants! More than half of the residents of the borough can carry a conversation in both English and French (59%). French, however, remains the most widely spoken language in the home, although English and Arabic are used on a daily basis by a large number of people.
 
The Volunteer Recognition Brunch aims to highlight the many initiatives being undertaken by community organizations over the past year.
 
The Borough of Saint-Laurent has many socio-community organizations working in various fields of activity such as employment, education, housing, food security, etc.

Saint-Laurent, September 20, 2017 - The 25th International Day of Peace was celebrated on September 21, 2017 at Beaudet Park under a bright sunny day with participation of about forty students from LaurenHill Academy and l'École internationale des apprenants (école Dar Al Iman). Some forty adults including elected representatives as well as representatives from Saint-Laurent organizations were also present. The event was organized by the Borough in collaboration with the COSSL and the Bahá'í Community of Montreal.

 The International Day of Peace, established by the United Nations, was celebrated for 25 consecutive years at Beaudet Park emphasizing the topic; "Together for Peace: Respect, Dignity and Security for All". The commemorative plaque, which was unveiled at the ceremony, will soon be installed at Beaudet Park to commemorate both Canada's 150th and the 25th anniversary of the Park's designation as a "Peace Park".

 In his address, Saint-Laurent Mayor Alan DeSousa said: "Saint-Laurent wishes to highlight the International Day of Peace by launching a public call to bring people together and to demonstrate the importance of peace for our community. This community is rich in multi-culturalism, Men, women and children from all over the world, who have learned to live together in harmony. We are fortunate, in Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Canada, to live in a peaceful world. Nevertheless, we, children as well as adults, also have a responsibility to preserve peace around us. "

 Among the most touching moments of the event were the peace quotes recited in various languages ​​by a dozen LaurenHill Academy students, as well as the testimonial of a Syrian refugee, Mrs. Howida Tannous, who left her country of origin a year and a half ago, with her three children, and now living in Saint-Laurent.

Montreal, April 21, 2017 – The Bahá’í Community has celebrated the first of the twelve days of Ridván Festival at the Bahá’í Centre with music and various performances by the artists of the Community. Many friends of the Faith joined in this celebration with joy and happiness.
 
This is the day when Bahá'u'lláh left for Constantinople from Baghdád. He decided to move to the Najib Pasha garden across the Tigris river and entered the garden on April 22, 1863 accompanied by his sons `Abdu'l-Bahá, and some others, and stayed there for eleven days.
 
After his arrival in the garden, Bahá'u'lláh announced his mission and station for the first time to a small group of family and friends. The exact nature and details of Bahá'u'lláh's declaration are unknown. For the next eleven days Bahá'u'lláh received visitors including the governor of Baghdad. Bahá'u'lláh's family was not able to join Him until April 30, the ninth day, since the river had risen and made travel to the garden difficult. On the twelfth day of their stay, Bahá'u'lláh and his family left the garden and started on their journey to Constantinople.
 
In the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, written during 1873, Bahá'u'lláh ordains Ridván as one of two "Most Great Festivals", along with the Declaration of the Báb. He then specified the first, ninth, and twelfth days to be holy days; these days mark the days of Bahá'u'lláh's arrival, the arrival of his family and their departure from the Ridván garden, respectively.
 
The Festival of Ridván is observed according to the Bahá'í calendar, and begins on the thirty-second day of the Bahá'í year, which falls on April 20 or 21. The festival properly starts at two hours before sunset on that day, which symbolises the time that Bahá'u'lláh entered the garden. On the first, ninth, and twelfth days, which are Bahá'í Holy Days, work is prohibited. Currently, the three holy days are usually observed with a community gathering where prayers are shared, followed with a celebration.
 
The time that Bahá'u'lláh spent at the Garden of Ridván in April 1863, and the associated festival and celebration, has a very large significance for Bahá'ís. Bahá'u'lláh calls it one of two "Most Great Festivals" and describes the first day as "the Day of supreme felicity" and he then describes the "Garden of Ridvan as "the Spot from which He shed upon the whole of creation the splendours of his Name, the All-Merciful".
 
The festival is significant because of Bahá'u'lláh's private declaration to a few followers that he was "Him Whom God shall make manifest" and a Manifestation of God, and thus it forms the beginning point of the Bahá'í Faith, as distinct from the Babi religion. Furthermore, during Bahá'u'lláh's first day in the garden, he made three further announcements: abrogating religious war, which was permitted under certain conditions in Islam and the Bábí faith; that there would not be another Manifestation of God for another 1,000 years; and that all the names of God were fully manifest in all things. These three principles are "affirmed, expounded, and institutionalized" in Bahá'u'lláh's Kitab-i-Aqdas, which was completed in 1873.
 
The Ridván period is also the time when Bahá'í annual elections for the local and national Spiritual Assemblies take place every year throughout the world.

MONTREAL, July 20, 2017 - "Her name was mentioned often when we created Toponym'Elles (Project : Homage to Citizens). Several citizens would have liked to call a street or a Verdun establishment in her honor, but it was unfortunately, or rather happily, not possible because she is still alive. That's why we immediately thought of her as a Builder of the City, " says the councilor and member of the executive committee, Culture, Heritage, Design, L'Espace pour la vie et status of women at Ville de Montréal, Manon Gauthier.

La Grande Verdunoise, for the Verdun Borough, Mrs. Violet Grant States was honored as the "First Black Woman to be accepted in a major orchestra in Canada", having worked in the community environment as well as in the schools as a music teacher.

Violet, the first Black Woman to have been part of a professional orchestra in North America, has never been one who is discouraged by a refusal. At a time when women had just won the right to vote and where segregation was at its height, she had an exceptional career, paving the way for future generations. That's why she was chosen as the “City Builder” to represent Verdun.

This is an honor indeed for an ex-student who was not only dismissed from McDonald Teacher College, the former faculty of music at McGill University because she was of the black race but also was dissuaded by the school's director to abandon her studies, claiming that very few parents would accept that a person of color teaches their children!

In 1940, Violet, then a young pianist attended the first concert of the Women Symphony of Montreal, an orchestra which was brought together by Conductor Ethel Stark and composed exclusively of women. It was with this orchestra that in 1947, when segregation reigned throughout the United States, Violet, the first Black Woman, to play at Carnegie Hall, a prestigious New York concert hall.

Violet adhered to the Bahá’í Faith on January 8, 1961 in Verdun and served as a member of the Verdun Spiritual Assembly, serving for many years as the Secretary of this institution. She is the first woman believer of her race in Montreal who accepted the Faith.

The borough council of Verdun on May 2 started its session with a tribute to this exceptional Verdunoise, Violet Grant States, who, on the occasion of International Women's Day, was named “Builder of the City” in 2017 by the City of Montreal.

Having a fragile health, Violet could not attend the honor ceremony at Montreal City Hall. On June 9, 2006, Jean-François Parenteau, Mayor of the Verdun Borough, and Manon Gauthier, Member of the Executive Committee, Culture, Heritage and Status of Women in the City of Montréal, Madeleine Talbot, representing the City of Montreal - Borough of Verdun and Nicole Ollivier, representative of the City of Montreal, went to the Saint-Henri Residence for Elderly to meet Violet and present her the document of Recognition on behalf of Denis Coderre, the Mayor of Montreal. (See the photo)

MONTREAL— On April 15, playwright, actress and filmmaker Shabnam Tolouei’s new documentary film, Dust-Flower-Flame, was screened at Concordia University in the J.A. DeSève Cinema at 7:30 pm. Over 160 patrons from all walks of life in Montreal; university professors, Film and theatre writers and directors, artists in various disciplines, women groups, students and eminent psychologists were in attendance. Questions and discussions went on for more than one hour and people had trouble to get separated from the author!
 
Dust-Flower-Flame is a documentary film about the life of Tahirih Qurratu l-ʿAyn, a woman of letters, the effect of whose presence on women’s equality movement in the 19th century during the reign of Qajar has continued up until today.  After the Islamic Revolution, it is forbidden to write or talk about Tahirih.  Even her name, or pages and chapters about her life, have been obliterated in later editions of historical or literary books published in Iran.  Tahirih was ultimately choked to death secretly at night by the order of two high-ranking Muslim clergy and the approval of Nasiru’l-din Shah.
 
Shabnam Tolouei, is an actress, writer, and director, a graduate in Film Directing from the Bagh-e-Ferdous Film School in Tehran, and in Theatre Studies from Université Paris Ouest in Nanterre. Having received numerous awards for her acting, directing, and writing, and after ten years of continuous work in Visual and Performing Arts, she was deprived of all kind of activities in the field of art in Iran because of her religious beliefs.  She has been living in France since the end of 2004. This film is written and directed by her in collaboration with Executive Producer Ladan Doorandish and produced by Persian Media Production.
 
The screening was followed by an animated and enthusiastic period of questions and discussion with the director of the film and was moderated by Dr. Neda Faregh, Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Carleton University, and project founder of Virtual Psychology in Chad. Mention should be made that Ms. Tolouei’s son, Sepanta, who also played in the film, was present during the projection and posed with his Mom for the photograph displayed in this article. This is the second time that he appeared during a public presentation in North America with his Mom.
 
Ms. Tolouei was interviewed by a Persian News channel following the projection and attended a theatre workshop on Sunday before leaving Montreal. She mentioned that a French version of this documentary is being prepared and will be available before the end of the year.
 
This was one of the outstanding public presentations within past few years in Montreal thanks to a group of well organized volunteers who helped the event to be a great success.

MONTREAL, March 18, 2017 - The Verdunoise, Violet Grant States is among the 20 exceptional women proclaimed "Builders of the City" by the City of Montreal this year.
 
Every year, since 2011, Montrealers are honoured "in recognition of their exceptional contribution to the development of the city," reminded the mayor and the executive committee, adding that, on the occasion of Montreal's 375th anniversary, the City wished to pay tribute to 20 women Montrealers from all the boroughs and to a great Montrealer from the Aboriginal Peoples by creating the "Prix Origine".
 
For the Verdun Borough, Ms. Violet Grant States was honoured as the "first black woman to be accepted in a major orchestra in Canada," having worked in the community and in the school environment as a music teacher.
 
In 1940 she attended the first performance of the Montreal Women’s Symphony and decided to become its member. She was told that the orchestra needed a wind instrument so Violet switched her major from Piano to clarinet at the Conservatoire! She was auditioned and won a position in the 80 member all women orchestra. She remained a member of the orchestra until 1965. She was the only black woman who played at Carnegie Hall, N.Y. with this symphony. She managed to complete her musical studies at McGill while giving private lessons for over 28 years. She was assigned with a thousand music students per week in various schools, colleges and kindergartens. She served as Organist and Choir Director at Union United Church for 15 years.
 
Violet was enrolled in the Faith on 8 January 1961 in Verdun and served as a member of Verdun Spiritual Assembly since that time, serving for many years as it’s secretary. She is the first woman believer in her race in Montreal.
 
For her lifetime involvement as a community activist, Violet was named ‘Grande Verdunoise’ and Honorary Citizen of Verdun. She was equally involved in projects such of honouring early Black railroad workers and the official recognition of a slave cemetery in St-Armand, Quebec. She also set up banking funds with Caisse Populaire Desjardins for all the students of Verdun Elementary School, which she has helped to manage for over 20 years, effectively teaching children to care for their money.

Montreal, May 22, 2017 – In Montreal and all over the world, Bahá’ís and their friends celebrated the anniversary of the Declaration of the Báb in the evening on Monday, May 22.
 
The event took place at Loyola Chapel of Concordia university with some 150 friends and members of the Community.  Special prayers accompanied with music and historical texts were read by the youth of the Community and a video relating the events of the time of the declaration of the Báb was shown.
 
The event was organized by the Bahá’í friends of Saint-Laurent-Ahuntsic-Cartierville with help of Children and youth as well as a talented piano player, Rigoberto.
 
Known by the title “the Báb”—meaning “the Gate” in Arabic, a young Persian merchant named Siyyid ‘Ali-Muhammad, announced in the mid-nineteenth century that He was the bearer of a message destined to transform the life of humanity. His teachings open the gate to a new age of social transformation. He called for immediate spiritual and moral reformation, including the advancement of women and improvement of the lot of the poor. He founded a distinct, independent religion, and inspired His followers to carry out acts of heroism that would contribute to the spiritual emancipation of their fellow countrymen. In His homeland, now called Iran, the Báb’s message aroused excitement and hope, rapidly attracting thousands of followers from a cross-section of classes.
 
Ultimately, the Báb’s mission was to prepare humanity for the coming of another, greater Messenger of God: Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith. The Báb taught that Bahá'u'lláh would usher in the age of justice, unity, and peace promised by all the world’s religions. The Báb was executed by the state in 1850, just six years after His first public announcement, but His ministry shook the foundations of His homeland and began to spread beyond the borders of Persia. Today, the Bahá’í Faith is established in virtually every country of the world, and about 2,100 ethnic groups—including indigenous peoples—comprise its membership. 

 

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