On January 20th, members and volunteers of the Buddha's Light International Association (BLIA) Toronto Chapter gathered at the Garden Banquet & Convention Centre in Brampton for the BLIA Toronto 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Volunteers' Dinner. The event brought together 651 BLIA members, showcasing their talents and welcoming the year 2024.
The AGM began with the chanting of the 'Ode to Triple Gem,' led by Ms. Mabel Lam, the president of BLIA Toronto. President Lam expressed gratitude for members' contributions and celebrated the Toronto chapter's 2023 Achievement Award from the BLIA World Headquarters. She urged members to continue support, emphasizing the importance of family and passing down the legacy.
Venerable Chueh Fan, Abbess of Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Temple of Toronto and the Guiding Monastic Advisor of the BLIA Toronto Chapter represented BLIA World Headquarters. She presented Winnie Kwong with the Rank One Lay Dharma Teacher sash and appointed her as the 2024 Chairperson of the Supervisory Committee for BLIA Toronto. Additionally, John Lu received a certificate for his new role as a Lay Dharma Teacher.
President Lam presented the chapter’s annual report with a video of BLIA Toronto's 2023 events. Venerable Chueh Fan introduced major events in 2024, and Candy Leung, the chief financial officer, presented the 2023 financial report through PowerPoint slides.
In her guidance, Venerable Chueh Fan emphasized the concept of “Coexistence and Coprosperity,' requiring mutual respect and tolerance, thanking everyone for unwavering support to Fo Guang Shan.
The Toronto Buddha’s Light Dragon and Lion Dance Team's drumbeats marked the beginning of the Volunteer Dinner. Venerable Chueh Fan expressed gratitude for volunteers, encouraging aspirations to propagate Humanistic Buddhism in 2024.
The gathering featured diverse talents, including energetic dance moves by the BLIA Young Adult Division (YAD) in Connecting Heart, the Buddha’s Light Chorus singing Nature Wondrous Path, and monastics performing the Song of the Dharma Propagator.
The program acknowledged outstanding works from the '2023 Beauty of Buddha's Light Photo Contest,' recognized exceptional BLIA Toronto members, commended Buddha's Light Scouts, and celebrated volunteers with 10, 15, 20, and 25 years of dedication, along with their testimonials.
During the gathering, volunteers shared their volunteer journeys, Chen Hu, president of the Da Tzu Second Subchapter, highlighted the importance of practicing the Bodhisattva path at Fo Guang Shan, and Lay Dharma Teacher John Lu praised the organization's friendliness and organizational capacity.
Tracy Liu, a dedicated 40-year volunteer, likened joining Fo Guang Shan to having wise mentors, encouraging everyone to be a 'volunteer for volunteers,' guiding new volunteers under the monastery's guidance.
The gathering concluded with Venerables leading the group in offering lights for blessings. Participants listened to Venerable Master Hsing Yun's A Prayer for the New Year, praying for the blessings and protection of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, wishing for freedom like cloud and water, auspiciousness, and joy in 2024.