• By: OLM Staff

Dalai Lama Visits Ottawa

The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet may have come with a serious message, but His Holiness started his public address to the City of Ottawa last Saturday with characteristic humor. With a twinkle in his eye and placing a red baseball cap upon his head before an audience of 7,000 people at the Ottawa Civic Centre at Landsdowne Park, the Dalai Lama began his much awaited address.

“I am very happy once more to be here in Canada because I am an honorary citizen of this country.” said the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism. “Of course I am not a taxpayer so I come here and enjoy myself so thank you.”

The lighthearted quip however, belied the important purpose of the Dalai Lama’s visit to the nation’s capital -to send the message about China’s occupation of Tibet and to attend the 6th World’s Parliamentarian’s Convention on Tibet to decide how to deal with it. Protest over Chinese rule prompted at least 33 Tibetans to self-immolated or set them selves on fire since 2011.  At the convention, the Dalai Lama, in exile since the occupation began in 1951 said Tibet faces tremendous difficulties. “The situation locally is one ancient nation, with very rich ancient cultural heritage, is actually dying.”

Also speaking at the conference, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Canada encouraged the Chinese authorities to resume talks with the Dalai Lama. The Government had also responded to the Dalai Lama’s request to allow 1,000 Tibetans to immigrate to Canada. The resettlement of the Tibetans to be overseen by the Canada Tibet Committee and the Project Tibet Society will take place over a five year period. While in Ottawa, the Dalai Lama also met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the nature of which, His Holiness stated was “top secret.”

Despite the dire situation in Tibet, the Dalai Lama urged his supporters not to “feel hopeless or feel discouraged. The more suppression, the stronger the Tibetan spirit.” He also referenced what he called the “private sympathy” many Chinese intellectuals felt toward Tibet and concern for the region by open-minded government leaders. Hard line suppression by the Chinese would not according to the Dalai Lama win the day.

“I think they believe every problem can be solved by force, by guns. That’s old thinking. During civil war, or revolutionary movements, maybe. In peacetime, I think that kind of thinking is out of date.”