Pope Benedict better watch out for his Calgary congregations 'cause the Dalai Lama's coming to town, yo.
The University of Calgary will be hosting the Dalai Lama of Tibet September 2009. The three-day visit will include a public speech, presentations to the Buddhist community and a purposed symposium surrounding his teachings.
U of C president Dr. Harvey Weingarten explained someone approached him from the Dalai Lama centre in Vancouver and asked if the university would like to host a visit to Calgary. The university then sent out a formal invitation, which was accepted in late August.
"This guy is an iconic figure internationally," said Weingarten. "To give our community and our students a chance to let people interact and engage with this fellow is something we want to do. We're really excited to have him."
He stressed Dalai Lama trips are always organized to include as many people from the public as possible. As such, part of this trip will include a lecture open to the community. Weingarten expects this to be the biggest event; in other cities the talks have been attended by tens of thousands.
The visit would also provide the opportunity to have a conference based around his lessons of educating the heart and not just the mind, Weingarten noted. Specific topics could include ethics, integrity, and moral development. The conference may also include an address to the local business community about corporate social responsibility.
Tibetan Community of Alberta president Tashi Phuntsok explained the Dalai Lama always makes sure to not only address local Tibetan communities but learn about the context in which each is situated.
"Any time there is a Dalai Lama visit, [the community is] invited by the particular organization in Europe, the United States or in Canada," said Phuntsok. "It's always incorporated with the Tibetan community at the particular location."
Phuntsok stated despite being small in number, the Calgary Tibetan community is very active. They have meetings every Saturday where traditional language and culture is fostered.
Although the Dalai Lama hasn't been to Calgary since 1980, he has been to Vancouver multiple times in the past decade. On his last visit in Sep. 2006, he was given the honorary citizenship of Canada, noted Phuntsok.
"It seems like, during his stay in Vancouver, it was kind of a blessing," said Phuntsok. "The atmosphere seemed to be peaceful and harmonious."
Both the exact dates and venues of the visit are yet to be finalized stated Weingarten. Plans for distribution of tickets is also still in the works.