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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibetan centre coming together just in time

October 25, 2010

Inside Toronto
October 20, 2010

Lorraine Nehls didn't expect to end up at the
Tibetan Canadian Cultural Centre (TCCC) in
Etobicoke, which is currently being renovated for
the arrival of the Dalai Lama himself this month.

A string of events led the Florida resident to
the Titan Road site, where volunteers and work
crews are putting in long hours to ready the
building for a visit from the religious leader
who is expected to inaugurate the centre this Saturday, Oct. 23.

It started when a friend passed away in Virginia,
said Nehls during a visit to the site Oct. 14.
Following the service, she and her husband
realized they were a short drive from a niece,
and since the distance wasn't out of the
question, from there they headed to Pennsylvania to visit her husband's sister.

"And then my husband said, why don't we go to
Toronto, we've never been there," she explained.
"So I got on the Internet, and it said the Dalai
Lama was going to be there ... and I thought, 'oh
my goodness, we've gotta do this'."

She herself has become a volunteer at the centre,
offering help in the temporary office next door -
and she doesn't mind getting her hands dirty if she has to.

"If they give me a hard hat, I'll go over (to the
centre) and sweep," she added with a smile.

Nehls said she has a strong connection to Buddhism and the Dalai Lama.

"The fact that he wants world peace, and he's
gentle, and he's doing it in the right way as far as I'm concerned," she said.

Norbu Tsering is the president of the TCCC and he
was at the site Oct. 15 to witness the hoisting
of three large statues onto pedestals in the building's main assembly hall.

But that operation was just one component of a
renovation that has hit snags due to the earlier
discovery of lead in the roof paint, which had to be replaced.

Also, while the federal government has pledged to
match the TCCC's funding for the $6.6 million
project, which includes adding a gym and
multi-purpose hall, by early September only
$300,000 in donations had been collected.

Tsering painted a different picture Oct. 15.

He reported more than $1 million has now been
raised. And while the entire renovation project
is only about 40 per cent completed, according to
the centre's president, 80 per cent of the work
specifically for the Dalai Lama's visit is done,
he said, with the main assembly hall currently the focus of workers' efforts.

"We have another week to go, no problem," he
said, noting there are more than 350 volunteers involved.

Two other helpers - Kari Khedup and Lobsang
Chozing, both living in Etobicoke - were also
lending a hand with various tasks Oct. 15.

"Today I'm helping here to clean up, and polish,
and put the stones on the statues, and little
things here and there," she said, noting she is
excited to see the figure head of the Buddhist religion. "I can't sleep."

Khedup said she donated some of the semi-precious
stones for the head of a statue, and that some of
the relics filling the statues were from her family back home in Tibet.

Chozing said the TCCC, the only centre of its
kind in Canada according to centre officials, is
important for preserving the Tibetan culture.

And she's happy to be here.

"We see Canada as a very stable country, we want
to be here forever," she said. "I think Canada is
a wonderful country, we all have the same rights."

Meanwhile, Tsering said he has a "vision" for the
centre upon the projected completion near the end
of March 2011. He wants to see TDSB students tour
the facility, while also attracting tourists from afar.

He also noted the TCCC is not exclusive to the
Tibetan community, explaining there are about
5,000 people of Tibetan descent in Ontario.

"I think (the centre) will be well-used in this
area ... (anyone) can rent this place for
events," he said, noting the main room can be divided in two for separate uses.

It's a lot of work to prepare the site for the
big visit, but it's all worth it, he said.

"In the long run it will give (me) great
satisfaction, and it's giving back to the community," said Tsering.

Khedup said Tibetan culture is inclusive.

"When we pray, we pray for everybody, not just ourselves," she said.

For more information about the centre or to make
a donation, visit

For information about the visit of the Dalai Lama
to Toronto from Oct. 22 to 25, visit
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
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