Irwin Cotler, Former Federal Minister and Acclaimed Human Rights Champion, Says Shen Yun Has a Message of Hope
TORONTO—For years, Irwin Cotler, an academic, human rights lawyer, and now-retired long-time Member of Parliament, wanted to see Shen Yun Performing Arts.
On Thursday evening, he finally found the chance to see the New York-based classical Chinese dance and music company perform at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts.
“A very uplifting evening … I’m just delighted,” Mr. Cotler remarked after seeing the performance.
Mr. Cotler has long been known as a man on a mission. His human rights advocacy has seen him serve as counsel to Nelson Mandela, Natan Sharansky, and Jacobo Timerman. Under Prime Minister Paul Martin, he was Canada’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice. During his 16 years as a parliamentarian, he earned respect on all sides of the house for his tireless and non-partisan efforts to help victims oppression. He is also the recipient of ten honorary doctorates and known respectfully as Professor Cotler.
But Thursday night was a chance to relax. Mr. Cotler, said Shen Yun provided a “sense of hope…that is anchored in the values of truth and compassion and tolerance” imbued in the performance that make it special.
Being based in New York, Shen Yun enjoys artistic freedom, and can freely pursue its mission of reviving China’s divinely-inspired culture, free of restriction by the Chinese communist regime.
Shen Yun’s performances are rich with values and principles rooted in traditional Chinese culture—principles such as benevolence and justice, propriety and wisdom, and respect for the heavens.
“This is a very hopeful performance… and it’s all done through a magnificent choreography and artistry and dance.”
In a world filled with grim news, Shen Yun’s inspiring performance brings a welcome message, said Mr. Cotler.
“By touring the world they are conveying to the world that amidst the war and the terrorism there is another way, there is a better way, that way lies in traditional values and lies in each of us to give expression to those values in our lives,” Mr. Cotler said.
“You come here this evening and you experience the dance, and you experience the artistry, you experience people coming out of the landscape in a very, very aesthetic connection, then you say, you know what, there is another way. There are traditional values that we’re all part of, there are these values that we can not only share but that we impart to each other, enrich each other’s life and thereby enrich our common humanity.”
Indeed, on the day of terrorist attacks on March 22 in Brussels that took the lives of over 30 people, Belgian audiences attending Shen Yun’s performance that was scheduled on the same day in Bruges, Belgium said the performance brought them solace amidst the chaos.
“[Shen Yun] awakens something that comes from the heart,” said Belgian Diane Lierman who insisted on seeing the performance after the bombings on March 22 to stay positive.
Mr. Cotler says all Canadians and fellow MPs have to experience Shen Yun and the profound values in the performance.
“You have to experience it because it isn’t only a matter of sitting and observing, it’s a matter of relating, of experiencing. And if they come here they will—as I’m leaving—inspired, and they’ll be energized for their work,” he said.
“[Shen Yun] will convey to them a very positive energy, a sense of hope. And they’ll understand better the true meaning of what it is meant when we speak about truth and compassion and tolerance and that will become part of their values, and part of their lives.”
Shen Yun is a very unique performance, Mr. Cotler added. “There is simply nothing like it. People must come and see this and experience this and be energized by it. And I can tell you, I will be back year after year.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Omid Ghoreishi
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. Shen Yun’s International Company is currently touring Eastern Canada. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reaction since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.