Canada: Pathway to a Deeper, Heart-Felt Understanding: An Interview with Kathleen Gillis, Recipient of the City of Ottawa Distinguished Civic Award

On May 3rd, 2006, the Mayor of Ottawa presented the City of Ottawa Civic Appreciation Awards to recipients in City Hall. Falun Gong practitioner and artist Kathleen Gillis received a Distinguished Civic Award in the Arts and Culture category.

Kathleen Gillis (third from left) and other award recipients with Mayor of Ottawa (first from right).

As a western artist and art teacher, Ms. Gillis has been depicting the true story of Falun Gong through her artwork over the past few years. Many pieces of her artwork have been collected in the "Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance" art exhibition, including oil painting of two children reading Zhuan Falun, "Uncompromising Spirit" "The Heavens Speak" and "The People's Tribunal."

Oil Painting of two children reading Zhuan Falun "Uncompromising Spirit"
"The Heavens Speak" "The People's Tribunal"

Kathleen is an artist and art teacher. She became a Falun Gong practitioner after she saw a volunteer introduce Falun Gong in University of Ottawa by chance.

Kathleen told the reporter that she had changed in almost every way after she began cultivation even from very mundane everyday things. When the persecution of Falun Gong began she realised how fortunate she was because she could help to make what was happening more visible through art.

Kathleen said, "The arts are integral to who we are as practitioners. As artists, musicians, and performers we are part of a completely new cultural expression. We are only beginning to understand how we can best contribute. I never quite know what will happen next in my work but I am learning to trust the process. The paintings and sculptures that we are creating now are a record of some of the things that have happened to Falun Gong practitioners, as well as what the practitioners have been doing to clarify the truth. They also include some of our visionary experiences."

While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) persecutes Falun Gong practitioners and slanders Falun Gong in China, practitioners enjoy the freedom of cultivation in Canada and win honours every year. Regarding the sharp contrast, Kathleen said, "To have our contributions recognised by the City of Ottawa is particularly significant to Falun Gong practitioners. Whereas in China, under the Chinese Communist Party, we have been exploited, demonised and treated as non-humans, here we are known as friends, neighbours and good citizens. This says a lot about the nature of our community."

When talking about the "Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance" art exhibition, Ms. Gillis said, "I think in the future, when people see more of our works they will be able to see how we, the artists, have changed. We started out as people from several continents working independently and in a variety of ways. We were street artists, traditional Chinese painters, contemporary artists, sculptors, printmakers, a diverse group with only one thing in common-Falun Dafa. It is a miracle that in such a short period of time we, and the Falun Gong community could put together such an exhibition."

In conclusion, Ms. Gillis said, "When people go to see the Truth Compassion Forbearance exhibition they quickly realise that it is not created for artists or made to fit some art theory. It is created for humankind as a pathway into a deeper, heart-felt understanding."

Background: Awards to Falun Gong Practitioners in Canada:

In 2003, Falun Gong Practitioner Chen Ruqing won Outstanding Citizen Award for saving young girl's life. He became the first Chinese in Quebec history to win this honor.

In 2002, Ms. Dai Gongyu was recognized at Nation Volunteer Week.
In 2003, Mr. Gerry Smith received Outstanding Volunteer Award.
In 2004, Ms. Cindy Chan received Ottawa Community Award.
Recipients of Ottawa Civic Appreciation Awards:
2004, Lucy Zhou
2005, Li Xun
2006, Kathleen Gillis
In 2002, Mr. Zhang Zhaojin and Ms. Zhang Tiejun received award certificates issued by the president of the Toronto Canada Day Celebration Council.
In 2003, Mr. Zhang Zhaojin received Canada Day Achievement Award.

"I know a number of Falun Gong practitioners. They are wonderful people who not only say that they believe in Truth, Compassion, Tolerance, they practise their values. They are model citizens. They are peaceful. They are law-biding. They are hard-working. They are gentle. They are kind. They are considerate. And they are model citizens in Canada. I am sure they are model citizens in China too."

-- David Kilgour, Canadian Senior MP and former Secretary of State (Asian-Pacific)

"I note that every single one of the practitioners who has been admitted to Canada has been a model citizen of this country."

-- Scott Reid, Canadian MP. He also said that practitioners were kind, peaceful and courageous and would not be a threat to any society. Falun Gong's principles are based on traditional social values. Falun Gong practitioners practise Truth, Compassion and Tolerance.

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