Vancouver: A Compassionate Kind of Town
by The Charter/Simon Fraser University
1 year ago
There’s a common notion in the United States that Canadians are really nice, preternaturally so. Now, Vancouver is taking the national trait a step further with a citywide conversation: 12 Days of Compassion with Karen Armstrong.
As part of the March 19–30 series of events, the Center for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University will present Armstrong with the prestigious Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue. Armstrong’s visit will also mark the launch of the Greater Vancouver Compassion Network and the city’s bid to join the International Network of Compassionate Cities.
Armstrong’s March 22 lecture, “What is Religion?”, will be followed by a “State of the Charter” presentation announcing a vision for the road ahead as we continue to reassert compassion as the cornerstone of a just economy and a peaceful world. “Compassion is not an option — it’s the key to our survival.”
12 Days of Compassion events
The 12 Days of Compassion events illustrate the broad goals of the Charter for Compassion and the Compassionate Cities movement, encompassing business, education, faith and research. Find out more below:
Compassion in Commerce
Karen Armstrong’s presence at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this year highlighted the powerful connection between compassion and business on an international scale. As part of the 12 Days program, the Vancouver Board of Trade hosts a conversation about compassion and business with Simon Fraser University chancellor and Board of Trade governor Carole Taylor.
Compassion in Religion
A panel of storytellers from diverse religious backgrounds will join Armstrong for a March 29 Compassion in Religion Student Conference. Storytellers include Nisga’a leader Joseph Arthur Gosnell Sr., Sikh human rights lawyer Palbinder Shergill, and Jewish magiddah Shoshana Litman. Interested post-secondary students should register with event partner and host, Iona Pacific Inter-religious Centre.
Compassion in Action Intergenerational Forum
Vancouver’s School Board has already developed a Compassion in Action curriculum for primary and secondary schools. This unique event invites high school students and a significant adult in their lives to join Armstrong and moderator Maria LeRose at the March 27 Compassion in Action Intergenerational Forum. Hosted in partnership with the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education, Free the Children, and the Vancouver School Board, the free event will feature a keynote speech, stories from student panelists and active discussion on how participants can put compassion into action in their lives.
Radio One Book Club
In the past year, the Vancouver area has been home to 63 book clubs on Karen Armstrong’s Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life. On March 28, Armstrong appears on the CBC Radio Studio One Book Club. The event will be hosted by Sheryl MacKay and broadcast on her CBC Radio weekend morning show, “North by Northwest.” Paolo Petropoulos will be Sheryl's co-host for this Book Club.
Simon Fraser University’s Center for Dialogue is the host of Vancouver’s 12 Days of Compassion. The center will be hosting a day of compassionate research focused on the very real end-goal of how to educate people to become compassionate. SFU’s Center for Dialogue is at the forefront of dialogue teaching and study. Its Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue is unique, bringing together about 20 students and three teachers from various disciplines, as well as outside thought leaders, for half a year of intense study:
The Undergraduate Semester in Dialogue addresses what we believe is the principal challenge for contemporary education: to inspire students with a sense of civic responsibility, encourage their passion to improve Canadian society and develop innovative intellectual tools for effective problem solving. Each semester, we develop an original and intensive learning experience that uses dialogue to focus student education on public issues.
Dr. Heesoon Bai, a participant in the Semester in Dialogue, is organizing the compassion research event. She says that when she was first tasked with setting up the seminar, she envisioned a “stuffy academic conference.” But after encouragement from the Center for Dialogue’s director, Dr. Mark Winston, she set up a one-day event which brings together people from all walks of life with the express goal of determining which conditions help compassion flourish and which do not.
“There is compassion wisdom inherent in us as our birthright,” says Dr. Bai. “It is an inherent capacity that we have as a human beings. The challenge is that that capacity has to be activated and materialized, and how or if that has to do with the environment. I’m interested in looking at why, if compassion is inborn, it is so difficult to activate — why isn’t it as strong and prevalent as it could be?”
Results from the day’s events will be published in a special edition of Paideusis: Journal of Canadian Philosophy of Education Society.