Stephen Inglis

Claude Daviault

It was in the winter of the year 2000 that, as president of Auroville International Canada, I made my first six-week stay in Auroville. My objective then, as in later visits, was to observe how the community of Auroville functioned. But already during this first visit, seeing the wide variety of activities available and having been a fencing trainer in Montreal for several years, i said to myself that fencing could also have its place in Auroville.

A few years later, more familiar with local procedures, I submitted a request to the PCG for funds to buy equipment in order to start the activity. It wasn’t that the project did not interest them, but there were many other projects also being considered and my request stayed on the shelf. An Aurovilian friend then suggested, “Claude, you should start small.” I concluded that I could try in a more modest way. It was after the contact with a young Aurovilian from the Ukraine that the project took shape. Arseny had tried several combat sports and was curious to try fencing. Feeling a certain affinity, we agreed that the following winter I would bring two sets of fencing equipment and that I would initiate him in swordplay.
Winter, 2012. At our meeting, Arseny told me that one of his friends was interested in participating in the class. And to the first class he also brought his sister and her friend. I had two sets of equipment and we were five! Over the week that followed, I managed to put together three extra weapons in bamboo with protection made of laminated wood and I bought three pairs of security glasses to protect our eyes. They would serve only for the exercises but not for combat, which is done only with protective masks. This first class was intensive: three times a week for 12 weeks. Our practice “area” was a small, unused piece of land in the community of Vikas.
Arseny would have the right to private lessons to perfect his training. Because of the interest shown, Arseny succeeded in getting a small grant from SAIIER, which allowed him to buy three sets of equipment that he would receive later in spring. At the end of my stay, I left Arseny, satisfied with his commitment. he had received enough instruction to start fencing correctly on a recreational level.
In the autumn of 2012, I confirmed that I would be coming back for three months. At the annual meeting of the Fencing Federation of Quebec, I informed the clubs that were present that I had a fencing project in India and that I would take all the used materials that could send my way. The response was something I had not even hoped for: I left for Auroville with 30 masks, 30 weapons, 60 out of date vests, 1- defective electric breastplates and two electric machines, which totalled 100 kg in extra weight. AVI Canada, who supported my project, paid for the excess baggage. So overloaded as I was, I breezed through Canadian and Indian customs and could only conclude that the Divine approved of the undertaking.
Two days after my arrival in Auroville, I was presented with a welcome-back cake and a surprise reception at my guesthouse, organized by Arseny and his young students, so happy that I had brought equipment for them. I was delighted to see that some twenty young people were interested in fencing under his leadership and all that with only five sets of fencing equipment, a few more in bamboo, and two practice sessions per week in a place that the community of Arka had put at their disposal. I gave four classes a week throughout my stay, and in March 2012 Auroville saw its first fencing competition with electric foils and eight young participants!
It took some ten years from my first visit until this project took shape. I am happy to have contributed in starting a small fencing club in Auroville, with some young people who come regularly. The activity took place at the end of the afternoon, after school and also attracted a few adults.
I don’t know what the future holds for it, but I dare to believe or hope that it will grow. In the future, I dream that the club will succeed in creating some young trainers who will establish the activity on a regular basis, within the school schedule on the playground, and why not? – in village schools around Auroville as well; and that the funds will be there to modernize the equipment.

Courtesy: Auroville International, the worldwide network of Auroville Friends.

Catherine Blackburn

Around year 2000, Mr. Devan Nair, a well-known speaker on Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, came back from Auroville. He had been invited for a two-week stay, visiting and giving talks. Upon his return, he met with our Toronto group and emphasised that we must help Auroville. I knew most people in Auroville International Canada office in Montreal, as i am originally from that city. So, I contacted the members of AVI Canada and over the years, I became the Ontario antenna. 
In 1971, I had been living in the Sri Aurobindo Ashram for a few years. Auroville was just beginning then. With my department, we sometimes used to go for picnics in Auroville on Sunday afternoons. It was a barren land back then, but it already had a feeling of magic and wonder.
As an antenna, our work is mostly to answer questions from people, who want to know more about Auroville or want to settle there. We try to collect donations for specific projects. With the sale of the Matrimandir calendars we can make donation every year that goes to the Matrimandir. Canadians in Auroville are few, but they are a dynamic lot: let’s mention the first Canada Day event on July 1st, 2012, and the creation of the Inuksuk in the International one. I do not have the opportunity to visit often, but I feel connected by reading Auroville Today, La Revue d’Auroville, the news and notes and listening to the Auroville Radio. These are good communication tools. I especially like climbing to the Matrimandir it is like being in a dream and transported into the future. After all, it is the City of Dawn.

Courtesy: Auroville International, the worldwide network of Auroville Friends.

Christian Fuillette

I am Christian Feuillette, chairman of AVI Canada since 2004 and vice-chairman of the AVI Board since 2006. I have lived since 1969 in Montreal, where I came as a French teacher in a cooperation program between France and the province of Quebec. As I was already interested in Yoga books and practice, I contacted very soon the Sri Aurobindo Center in Montreal, founded sometime in 1965. I discovered Auroville in 1970 while i was visiting the Pondicherry Ashram.

During this first trip to India i had an unforgettable meeting with the Mother. Somebody close to mother told me to look only at her eyes. The day before the meeting i had sent her a short message asking her to look at me and recognize me as one of there children. So she intensely plunged her gaze into my eyes and I could feel her action everywhere inside me, while I was completely filled with an ineffable joy. Since then i feel myself only as her child and try to act accordingly. I can feel also the continuous action of the seed she had then deposited in myself.
I became therefore involved with the center in Montreal as their vice- president, and for 23 years participated actively in its development. in 1987 I went to the Ashram and auroville for a longer stay, and received Sri aurobindo’s relics from Champaklal to bring them back to the Montreal Center. I was also the first treasurer of the Auroville Association, one of the oldest created in Montreal in 1971, which later became AVI Canada. In January 2005 I visited Auroville with my wife Andree and our son Maxence, then eleven years old and was a participant in the AVI meeting. i became a member of the AVI board at that time.
In Montreal I now run a French publishing house, which published in November 2005 a translation of Savitri made by the French-Canadian poet Guy Lafond, a long time devotee of Sri Aurobindo. i work actively in AVI Canada, which counts about 30 members, with a board of six members in our Montreal headquarters, and two antennas in Canada, one in Toronto and the other one in British Columbia. on February 28th 2009 I came to Auroville for the inauguration of the Canadian Inuksuk in the International Zone.
The AVI Canada members gather together at least three times a month, on the 15th of the month for a collective reading on Synthesis of Yoga and The yoga of works; on the 21st for a collective meal; and on each first Sunday of the month for an activity, cultural or recreational.

Courtesy: Auroville International, the worldwide network of Auroville Friends.