The following is an exerpt from cnews:
VANCOUVER (CP) – The Dalai Lama says he is proud to have been given honorary Canadian citizenship. He was granted the citizenship by Parliament earlier this summer, a move which drew criticism from China.
“Wherever I go, it creates some inconvenience,” he told a news conference at Vancouver city hall. “I’m sorry. I hope it’s not my mistake.”
Only two other people have been granted honorary Canadian citizenship: South African leader Nelson Mandela and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who saved Jews from extermination during the Second World War.
The leader of the world’s Tibetan Buddhists arrived in Vancouver on Thursday for the inauguration of the Dalai Lama Centre for Peace and Education.
He said Vancouver was chosen as the site of the centre, the world’s first to bear his name, as its multi-ethnic and multiracial population gives it harmony.
“This is purely educational, not political,” he said of the centre.
The Dalai Lama said religious institutions have lost their power and that moral and ethical guidance is now provided through education.
“We have to live together. We must educate in this respect,” he said.
He said human beings must become more peaceful through the promotion of human values and religious harmony.
“This is the basis of the future,” he said. “It’s in everybody’s interest.”
The Dalai Lama was welcomed to Vancouver by Mayor Sam Sullivan.
“Thank you for blessing us with your presence,” Sullivan said. “Vancouver is very honoured that you would consider us the only city in the world for an institution with your name on it.”
Among those on the centre’s advisory board are former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
During his Vancouver visit, the Dalai Lama is due to meet with high school students and educators Friday on the themes of cultivating compassion and educating the heart.
Among participants in Friday’s sessions is Tim Shriver, CEO and chairman of the Special Olympics. Shriver is the brother of Maria Shriver, wife of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
On Saturday, the Dalai Lama takes part in public dialogues with a number of academics and writers, including best-selling author Deepak Chopra, on enhancing authentic happiness and physical well-being.
Later, he addresses a public session at the 21,000-seat GM Place on cultivating happiness.
Tickets for the events run as high as $175.
The Dalai Lama will also take part in private, invitation-only conferences with prominent business and social leaders.
Calgary MP Jason Kenney, once a critic of China’s human rights policy and now parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, was to meet privately with the Dalai Lama on Saturday. Citizenship and Immigration Minister Monte Solberg will attend the GM Place event.
Canada’s embracing of the Dalai Lama has drawn criticism from China, which continues to rule Tibet, which he fled in 1959.
Beijing has complained to the Canadian government about its decision to bestow honorary citizenship on the 71-year-old exiled Tibetan leader, saying the gesture could harm relations.
Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs says Canada recognizes China as the legitimate government of China and Tibet, but has great respect for the Dalai Lama.
In 2004, the Dalai Lama appeared in Vancouver for the first Vancouver Dialogues with other Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including Archbishop Tutu and Iranian human rights advocate Shirin Ebadi.
All three were bestowed honorary doctorates at the University of British Columbia.
The Dalai Lama won a Nobel peace prize for his lifelong struggle for Tibetan autonomy and his pursuit of peace.
He fled into exile in northern India in 1959, following a failed uprising against Chinese rule, and is still widely revered in Tibet which he fled in 1959.
Although he is frequently described as the exiled leader of Tibet, the Dalai Lama describes himself as semi-retired.
“I’m actually like a senior advisor,” he said.
He said he frequently hears from people about the situation in Tibet ,which he described as “materially backward (but). . . spirituality very rich.”
“All express sadness, complaints, resentment,” he said.
But, he stressed, he is not seeking independence from China for Tibet.
“I’m trying to find a solution according to the Chinese constitution,” he said.
During the press conference, the Dalai Lama also stressed the importance of a free media.