Wonderful Hope-filled Womenâ€™s Conference!
By Kate Greco, Toronto
Women's Caledon Conference, April 2017
Women gathered from British Columbia to Nova Scotia to revitalize their faith and make new friends at the Women’s Group Caledon Conference from April 20-23. Our theme, "Be the Light of Hope!" was derived from SGI President Ikeda`s 2017 New Year`s message. Each SGI Canada Region took responsibility for presenting one of the sessions, which included President Ikeda’s 2017 New Year’s message, the 2017 Peace Proposal, the poem “A Rainbow over Niagara,” and President Ikeda’s study lecture series from “The Buddhism of the Sun – Illuminating the World” titled “Faith for Achieving Happiness.”
SGI Canada Women’s Leader Helen Izumi-Choi battled laryngitis to share the guidance she had received during the SGI Spring Training Course in Japan just prior to our conference.
One of the participants, with limited English ability, attended the conference with her daughter’s encouragement to absorb the spirit of the conference through her skin even if she couldn’t understand everything. This is her report
“It was a joyful and victorious time for me. Although I have practised this Buddhism for 47 years, I never attended a Caledon conference because of my language insufficiency. I really appreciate the encouragement and support I received and was totally inspired by all of the wonderful women! I highly recommend that everyone attend one of these conferences even if they can’t speak English, like me! Just go and breathe in the Caledon air and the high spirits of the participants!"
Another woman has been practising alone in the Gaspe Peninsula for just over a year and was encouraged to attend the conference by her friend. With a full time job and three small children, it took lots of chanting and determination to realize her dream of attending the conference. She said, “I am so deeply grateful for this opportunity. All the women who were there, no matter their age, ethnic background, level of education or geographic region shared their experiences with a simplicity, a sincerity and an openness I have seldom witnessed. At the beginning of the conference we were told that the room was filled with friends you have not met. That was so true, so magical. I left the conference with a heart full of gratitude and compassion for new friends, with the deep conviction that I had found my bearings (at last) within this new family with whom I have so much to share, and a deep feeling of empowerment. What a beautiful, life-affirming weekend we had together!"
Another woman reported, “The experience was extraordinary because I came away feeling empowered and confident in my faith and spiritual practice. I met some amazing and strong powerful women of faith. They inspire me to reach for my determination. I am looking forward to next year’s conference. Thank you!”
Another reported, "The Caledon Women's Group conference bonds us, karmic siblings, in such mystical ways. We become instant family regardless whether it is the first time we met or seeing each other the first time after 20 years. Here, we share tears and joys and are inspired by each other's courage to change. One of my favourite parts of the conference is the walk to the Ikeda Lake. I cherish each walk with deep appreciation. While submerging in the clean crisp air in each step I take, I can feel President Ikeda's love for the Canadian members. It is vast."
Inspired by the congratulatory message we received from President Ikeda, we determined to create our own history of human revolution and forge ahead brightly and cheerfully, for the happiness of ourselves and others, sharing this wonderful practice far and wide.