Human Values Day 2017
Fifteen years ago, Walk for Values (W4V) began at the Sathya Sai School of Toronto by teachers, parents, and students who pledged to practice a value and walk through a downtrodden community to spread Sathya Sai Baba’s simple message of the five Human Values. Today, Human Values Day has been adopted by over 90 cities and municipalities, three provinces; Manitoba, Alberta and B.C. in Canada, and the Walk has been recognized over the world as an effective means to take Sathya Sai Baba’s message to the community. It has had a transformational impact both on the people who have participated and SSIO Canada. The Walk has served as a catalyst and have allowed SSIO members to embark on ambitious public outreach events.
April 24, 2017 was a perfect day in Ottawa, Canada. A gentle breeze and a bright sunshine illuminated the site as the Peace Tower Bells rang to stand witness to this important event. Divine presence was felt as everyone worked together in unity to observe the 1st Human Values Day at the Parliament Hill of the nation’s capital Ottawa with the complete support of the Canadian Federal Government. The memorable occasion was attended by; The Honourable Chandra Arya, Member of Parliament for Nepean who represented the Government of Canada; Councilor Michael Qaqish, Ward 22 Gloucester-South Nepean; and Rev. Dr. Tom Sherwood, Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University on behalf of the President’s Office. Other guests and community representatives came from Shepherds of Good Hope, Belgium Consulate, President & Founder of Festival of India, Indo-Canadian Community Centre, South Asia Connection, Ottawa Carleton School Board, Gipsy’s Creation, India Canada Association, Liberal Provisional nomination for Ottawa, Ottawa Telugu Association and India Canada office of Business Chamber.
The colorful event started with a bilingual Canadian National Anthem sung by grade five students of the Sathya Sai School of Toronto, Sai Young Adults from Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, followed by the Sathya Sai School’s Universal Prayer. Dr. Revathi Chennabathni, Principal of the Sathya Sai School, spoke of the three-fold honour of the flag hoisting on Parliament Hill: Celebrating the 1st Human Values Day, Celebrating 150 Years of Canada, and Celebrating 15 Years of Walk for Values. She eloquently explained the basis of the five core values Love, Peace, Truth, Nonviolence and Right Conduct. The Sathya Sai School of Toronto pioneered values integration into the Ontario School curriculum since September 2000. In the year 2008, the document
Finding Common Ground: Character development in Ontario Schools, K-12 emerged. Principal Revathi pointed out that the Sathya Sai School is the only one of its kind in Canada and the U.S., and was grateful for its move to a permanent location. Starting the Walk for Values and involving the community to pledge and practice the Values is an achievement of the School. Grade 2 Teacher, Mr. Petrevski further elaborated on how it has transformed, and spread across Canada and six Continents.
The event continued with remarks by Mr. Surinder Sharma, SSIO Public Outreach coordinator for Walk for Values, and the raising of the Human Values Flag by MP Chandra Arya, Councilor Michael Qaqish, Rev. Dr. Tom Sherwood, and several members of SSIO Canada. Sathya Sai School students and Sai Young Adults sang the Values Anthem. MP Chandra Arya remarked that it was a great Honour to be part of this historical moment, and continued with a reading of the letter from The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. Subsequently, SSIO Canada President, Ms. Preeti Mathur, read a Human Values Day message from SSIO Chairman Dr. Narendranath Reddy, followed by council members that shared messages by the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, The Honourable Navdeep Bains, and the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
Following the messages, the Councilor Michael Qaqish on behalf of His Worship Mayor of Ottawa Jim Watson, presented the Human Values Day Proclamation to SSIO Canada. The event continued with an inspirational speech by Rev. Dr. Tom Sherwood from Carleton University who spoke on the relevance of raising the awareness of the basic human values in the midst of present day conflicts around the world. He remarked that the decay of respect of truth, the impending environmental crisis, are some of the present challenges that require students of today to be involved in the healing of the world before they graduate. Sai Young Adults presented an uplifting musical performance which was followed by a vote of thanks by Co-Chairs of the Walk in Toronto who presented the organisation Shepherds of Good Hope with 150 W4V t-shirts in commemoration of 150 years of confederation in Canada. Shepherds of Good Hope is the largest non-profit organisation dedicated to serving and caring for the homeless and impoverished in the city of Ottawa and especially providing extra-loving support to those who are in need of health care.
As proud Canadians, members of SSIO were honoured to be at Parliament Hill to celebrate 150 years of the founding of the country. We are fortunate to live in a nation that celebrates diversity and encourages us to achieve our best. May Sathya Sai Baba continue to guide us as His instrument to live a life rich of His values.
Note: Representing the Sathya Sai International Organisation (SSIO) Canada, the following members of the council were present, President, SSIO Canada, Principal of Sathya Sai School, International Walk For Values Chair, National Education Coordinator, National Service Coordinator, Regional President (Regional 3), National Public Outreach Coordinator, Secretary of the Sai Council, Walk For Values Co-Chairs, Walk for Values Youth Lead, Walk for Values Committee and Teams, Young Adults from Montreal, and Members of Ottawa Sai Centre, Sathya Sai School Trustee, Teachers (SK and Grade 2), Grade 5 Students, Alumni, Members of the Sathya Sai International Organisation Canada, Volunteers and School Parents.