The theme for the 2020 Vision for Humanity Symposium this year was “Building a New Model. As the Chair for the symposium, Dr. Arthur Clark, explained in his overview:
“…We do this by addressing root causes of violent conflict; by raising awareness of life-affirming alternatives; and by encouraging Calgarians and others to participate in related work.”
Dr. Clark’s objective with the symposium is to build a new Calgary model by making the current model obsolete and the symposium was designed to help participants achieve this.
Various themes were presented, from “Building a New Economy of Well Being for Alberta”, by economist Mark Anielski, to “Conflict Transformation in the Workplace” by Naumana Amjad. In total, seven topics were presented, each offering participants tools to create this new Calgary model.
The closing podium sessions focused on encouraging, advising, modelling, and reassuring the participants they have what it takes to work together.
Overheard from one participant leaving the building: “I’ve just come from being in the zone of connectedness, and I am reluctant to leave.”
Manuel Rozental, a long-time international solidarity activist and surgeon, and Kevin Locke, a preeminent player of the Native American flute, a traditional storyteller, cultural ambassador, recording artist, and educator, shared their own experiences and wisdom as indigenous activists and ambassadors.
Rozental exhorted the group to all become Indians, noting that whatever our culture, we have all been uprooted from Mother Earth, and we need to return to her. This unravelling has placed in jeopardy the health of individuals, of communities, and the environment that sustains us.
After story and song, Locke shared what he considered to be the four most essential contributions of indigenous people. He noted their reliance on prayer, and how there is spiritual unity in every undertaking.
Indigenous people make child-centred decisions and their decisions include what the implications will be over seven generations.
Locke explained that though many struggle with addictions, they know that traditional ways cannot be contaminated by alcohol or drugs. Indigenous people understand the relatedness of all creation and that everything in the world is a physical representation of a spiritual reality.
Salima Stanley-Bhanji, CEO of the Calgary Centre for Global Community, (previously the Executive Director of Vibrant Calgary, and General Counsel at the Calgary Homeless Foundation) presented “Acceptance as a Tool for Social Change.”
Her challenge to the participants was to consider the opportunity of paradox of how acceptance – of ourselves, and of what is – has the potential of becoming the most powerful precursor to unprecedented and unimaginable change.
The conference concluded with participants moving around the room, shaking hands and looking into each other’s eyes acknowledging, and accepting the acknowledgement: “You are perfect as you are.” “Thank you, I am perfect as I am.”