The Dalai Lama of Tibet offers a white scarf, called a kata, as he is greeted by Senator Con di Nino, co-chairman of the Parliamentary Friends of Tibet, as he arrives at the Ottawa International Airport. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Sean Kilpatrick
October 28 - The Dalai Lama arrived in Ottawa Sunday as part of a historic trip that will see the wildly popular spiritual leader meet officially with Canadian politicians and offer teachings to thousands.
Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, was greeted by Environment Minister John Baird and Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien at the Ottawa International Airport on Sunday morning.
The Dalai Lama, 72, is scheduled to make a public address on "Global Citizenship Through Universal Responsibility" to thousands later this afternoon at the Ottawa Civic Centre. The event is hosted by the Canada Tibet Committee.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper will publicly meet the Dalai Lama in his Parliament Hill office on Monday afternoon -- the first time a prime minister has ever held formal talks with the exiled spiritual leader.
The Dalai Lama met with former prime minister Paul Martin in 2004 for a one-hour private talk held at the home of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Ottawa. Martin's predecessor, Jean Chrétien, refused such a meeting.
The Dalai Lama of Tibet offers a white scarf, called a kata, to Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien as he is greeted by Senator Con di Nino, left, and Environment Minister John Baird, upon his arrival at the Ottawa International Airport on Sunday Oct 28, 2007. The offering of a kata is a traditional Tibetan greeting and symbolizes purity of intention. THE CANADIAN PRESS / Sean Kilpatrick
The spiritual leader is currently on a North American tour to promote Tibetan autonomy and the preservation of Tibetan Buddhist culture ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
In 1949, China invaded the Himalayan nation. The following year, at the age of 16, the Dalai Lama assumed full political power as Head of State and Government in Tibet.
After a failed uprising in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to northern India where he remains in exile.
Chinese officials are vehemently opposed to foreign leaders meeting with the Dalai Lama, claiming the Nobel laureate is a political figure and a separatist.
U.S. President George Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel received tongue lashings from the Chinese leadership for their recent public meetings with the Dalai Lama.
As expected, the Chinese embassy in Ottawa issued a terse statement critical of Harper's public talk on Parliament Hill. The statement referred to the Dalai Lama as a political figure engaged in "secessionist" activities.
This is the Dalai Lama's first visit to Canada since he received an honorary Canadian citizenship last year. He joins Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg, Nelson Mandela and, most recently, Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi in receiving the honour.
Later in the week, the Tibetan Buddhist leader will travel to Toronto where he will hold a public talk Wednesday night on "The Art of Happiness" at the Rogers' Centre.