The Dalai Lama had two significant meetings in Ottawa on Saturday: one with an audience of thousands, the other an audience of one.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader was introduced by actor Richard Gere at the J. Benson Cartage Centre to a crowd of about 7,000 people, talking about his hopes for a peaceful 21st century.

"Now we need vision; look to the future, of course we can learn, take experience from the past, but we have to look to the future," he said. "(There are) seven billion human beings – mentally, emotionally, physically we are the same."

The speech titled "Hope for a Peaceful World" was the only one in Canada on a worldwide tour.

"His message was amazing, and the breadth of what he spoke to . . . everything from parenting to education is amazing," said Steve Alexander.

"I walk away with a sense of inspiration, I feel that I have learned more about human nature and a positive outlook," said Lois Frankel.

China sees the Dalai Lama as a separatist, representing the territory they invaded in the 1950s.

As a small group of protestors rallied in favour of China's role in Tibet outside the Ottawa Civic Centre, those in the audience bought tickets where part of the proceeds will help 1,000 Tibetans immigrate to Canada, including to the Ottawa area.

"This is different, this is one where the government has issued the Visas and then it's on the private organizations and citizens to provide and raise the funds," said Nima Dorjee of the Canada Tibet Committee.

Before his speech, the Dalai Lama privately met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in what was branded a "courtesy call", as China expresses displeasure when leaders meet with him.

The Dalai Lama said Harper has done very well at developing a good relationship with China while fostering Canada's democratic values.

"The fact the Dalai Lama was able to see the prime minister also proves there is great support from the Canadian government for the Tibetan cause," Kunsang Tanzin, president of the Canada Tibetan Association of Ontario, told CTV News.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman and files from The Canadian Press