Family Conference Theme â€śThe Heart of the Lion Kingâ€ť
By Uma Subramanian, Toronto
Family Caledon conference participants
Twenty-one families from across Canada celebrated the start of summer with the Family Caledon Conference from July 7-9. An exuberant team of youth leaders, the Orange Birds, welcomed everyone to the Caledon Centre. The joy that each family felt at this warm welcome was made even greater when families ran into friends from previous years and met many new participants.
Encouraged by President Ikeda’s message that “each of you without exception is a lion cub because you embrace Buddhism, the world’s supreme life philosophy,” the children, who belong to SGI Canada's future division, set the tone by chanting with prayer as resonant as a lion’s roar, in keeping with the conference theme, “The Heart of the Lion King.”
Throughout the conference, the children participated in various games and activities with the Orange Birds. One activity was a guided nature walk around the beautiful environs of the Caledon Centre after which there was a sit-down session with SGI Canada General Director Tony Meers. They asked him a host of questions, including, “What is the meaning of life?”, “How many of these culture centres exist in the world?”, and “Do you like ice cream?”
While these were going on, the parents participated in discussions on parenting, sharing breakthroughs gained in life through the Buddhist faith. SGI Canada Women’s Leader Helen Izumi-Choi joined one session where they discussed the first eternal guideline of the Soka Gakkai, “Faith for a Harmonious Family.”
The eagerly anticipated culture show, on the Saturday evening, was planned and executed entirely by the children and the Orange Birds. They demonstrated the talent, teamwork and harmony that exists among the boys and girls of the future division who will be at the forefront of SGI in the coming years. Woven into the tapestry of the evening were piano and violin performances, a Chinese martial arts display, songs, skits and experiences.
Hearts warmed by the evening’s performances, the families got ready for bed when the Orange Birds sprang a surprise — a family showing of the movie Sing, complete with popcorn!
The final day dawned bright and sunny and the families got together for some games that celebrated Canada 150. After this, the families, led by the children, shared their determinations for the future. SGI Canada Future Division Leader Rebecca Procska remarked that the children’s targets to read more would make President Ikeda truly happy!
As one of eight first-time participants in the family conference, I learned a great deal from the spirit of the youth leaders who managed the entire conference. They showed that the joy and encouragement that exists in the world of the Soka Gakkai gives children the confidence to live their lives to the fullest without fear, like a lion king. One of the most precious things I came away with was President Ikeda’s guidance that while we are raising our children, we are also being raised by our children.
I liked all the food, the gifts, rehearsing and performing for the culture show. I started doing Gongyo and it was fun. Zohar K., Toronto
Sebastien L., Ottawa
A great chance for kids to meet new SGI friends from across Canada. Close to nature, very relaxing and also strengthens our faith at the same time. So thankful to President Ikeda. Eric W., Richmond Hill, Ontario
The conference has truly been a great experience for the family. Being exposed to this beautiful centre with all its wonderful facilities for the very first time we are grateful to President Ikeda to have this opportunity to come together with other families across Canada. Listening to the vast array of experiences was truly awe-inspiring and served as a great encouragement to carry on practising Buddhism to the best of our abilities. We would like to make a firm determination to be more involved in kosen-rufu activities, introduce others to this wonderful philosophy and achieve our goals. Kanika M., Mississauga, Ontario
Leon and I were totally relaxed by the wonderful surroundings. This conference is a wonderful chance to help kids get to know the happiness gained in theSGI. Christine G., Toronto
This is second time I'm attending the Family conference. It is an amazing experience. I am happy that all my family members, my husband and my kids enjoyed a lot here and greatly appreciated everything they did over here. Gargi R., Mississauga, Ontario
This conference was an amazing experience to deepen the bonds in my family. We learned to cherish each other even in times of adversity. It helped us to understand the importance of SGI and President Ikeda's guidance in our everyday lives. Thank you! Tatiana V., Calgary
This conference is the annual highlight of the year for my family. I really appreciate how the staff are so accommodating to the special needs of the members, both dietary and emotional. The natural setting of the Caledon Centre is equally a strong attraction. We saw white-tailed deer and many other wild creatures while walking the trails. The activities for both adults and children serve to deepen our connection to faith and our mentor President Ikeda. Brett M., Toronto
The family conference always leaves a favourable impression to the children. It makes my children always wanting to come back. In fact they told me that they regret missing some conferences over the years. I do not get this feedback in our family relations. I am certain that this is an opportunity for them to connect with President Ikeda's spirit. Michelle L., Vancouver
First time attending with my son. The conference was well organized with lots of activity for family, children and parents. Deepest appreciation to the Orange Bird volunteers who were crucial in making the conference a success. Thank you. Ken Sato, Ottawa
I truly appreciated all the staff. They were amazing, helpful, sincere and most importantly made the effort to ensure that all guests are enjoying themselves. I personally learned a lot from the other parents. Their experiences were truly inspiring and had myself reflect on what I can do to do my human revolution. The guidance, parents, staff and the children, all were the catalysts in my faith. Helen W., Brampton, Ontario