Social Media | Canada welcomes “home” His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan on his Diamond Jubilee

“Welcome to our home and native land, your Highness.

 

It is, now and forever your home, your Highness, your home as well.”

 

– Honourable Stephen Harper,

former Prime Minister of Canada

during the formal presentation of the

Honorary Citizenship of Canada

at the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto,

the Aga Khan Museum and their unifying Aga Khan Park

Friday, May 28, 2010

 

The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, walks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper down the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, as they make their way to a signing ceremony. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)
From Ismailimail Archives: The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, walks with Prime Minister Stephen Harper down the Hall of Honour on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014, as they make their way to a signing ceremony shortly after addressing the Joint Session of Canada’s Parliament. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

 

Across Canada, in honour of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee visit to Canada (at the invitation of the Government), seniors leaders from the Canadian Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments, as well as City Councilors were joined by civil society leaders offering tribute to his life’s work in bettering the quality of life in communities across the world, including here in Canada.

These tributes found expression in more than a dozen opinion pieces in Canada’s news media penned by a former Governor General, a former Prime Minister and a former Deputy Prime Minster of Canada, together with a broad spectrum of civil society leaders, including University Chancellors, Mayors and City Councilors, as well as various CEOs from a range of industries.

Countless welcome messages and good wishes were shared across social media, select samples of which follow below.

 

Governor Generals – Past & Present

Her Excellency Julie Payette with former Governor Generals Adrienne Clarkson and David Johnston, and current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with former Prime Ministers Joe Clark, and Jean Chretien and their respective spouses at Rideau Hall

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Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, 29th Governor General of Canada (2018 – Present)

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Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, 26th Governor General of Canada (1999-2005), co-chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and board member for the Global Centre for Pluralism “In 2005, when I was Governor-General, I appointed him an Honorary Companion of the Order of Canada, our highest civilian honour. At the time, I said that he brings to everything he does “a generosity, curiosity, intelligence and deep compassion for human beings.” In 2010, during Stephen Harper’s government, His Highness accepted honorary Canadian citizenship.

The Government of Canada has always recognized the importance of the Aga Khan as a world leader. In 2002, when I was Governor-General, I was able to turn the sod of the Ismaili Imamat building with His Highness.

In 2006, the Conservative government partnered with the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) to establish the Global Centre for Pluralism, headquartered in the refurbished War Museum, which recognizes that pluralism is as important as human rights to ensure peace, democracy and a better quality of life for all.

In 2014, Stephen Harper’s government invited His Highness to address the joint houses of Parliament. The then-speaker, now-Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer addressed the Aga Khan as “a clear beacon and an example to follow … changing the world and making it a better place for those who are most in need of our assistance.”

Because of the far-reaching supranational activities of the Aga Khan Development Network and the Global Centre for Pluralism, the Aga Khan finds himself in Canada frequently. Hopefully he feels, as former prime minister Stephen Harper said to him in Parliament, that “when you are in Canada, you are home.”

Read more at Opinion: Celebrating 60 years of the Aga Khan – and a special relationship with Canada, The Globe and Mail, May 2, 2018

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Prime Ministers – Past & Present

Her Excellency Julie Payette with former Governor Generals Adrienne Clarkson and David Johnston, and current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with former Prime Ministers Joe Clark, and Jean Chretien and their respective spouses at Rideau Hall

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Right Honourable,  Jean Chrétien, 20th Prime Minister of Canada (1993-2003) “His Highness the Aga Khan is visiting Canada this month as part of an international celebration of his 60th, or “Diamond Jubilee,” anniversary as spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims. I’ll be delighted to join past and present Canadian leaders of all political stripes in celebrations of his remarkable six decades of leadership.

… Perhaps it’s not too surprising that I should be drawn to the Aga Khan and his example. In many ways, his credo of bridge-building, respect for human dignity, his devotion to moderation and decency, his celebration of diversity and pluralism, are what our own country, Canada, is all about.”

Read more at Opinion: Jean Chrétien: Why the world celebrates the Aga Khan, Ottawa Citizen, May 1, 2018

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Right Honourable,  Stephen Harper, 22nd Prime Minister of Canada (2006-2015)

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Government of Canada – Federal Ministers

Hon. Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

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Marc-Andre Blanchard, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada at the United Nations

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Roy Norton, Chief of Protocol of Canada

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Hon. Bill Graham, a former federal Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence. He is currently the Chancellor of Trinity College in the University of Toronto

“In 2013, I had the privilege as Chancellor of Trinity College at the University of Toronto of conferring on the Aga Khan the honorary degree of Sacred Letters in recognition of his contribution to peace, security, and the well-being of millions of people throughout many troubled areas of the world. It was a remarkable moment in the history of our city…. I had the good fortune of getting to know the Aga Khan when I first met him as Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. I soon came to admire his inspired and visionary thinking, which he advances as a part of a comprehensive and yet practical approach to addressing some of the world’s most complex and challenging problems…. The Aga Khan is someone who is globally accepted as an international statesman, respected by leaders of all backgrounds, political stripes, and ideologies for his contributions to improving the life and human dignity of vulnerable populations.

“Read more at Opinion: Why we should be proud to call the Aga Khan a Canadian, Daily Hive, May 8, 2018

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Hon. Anne McLellan, former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada “He is a diplomat, social innovator, global humanitarian and someone with an unshakable belief in the values of pluralism, diversity and equality.

I had the opportunity to see, first-hand, the life-changing work that the AKDN does in parts of the world during my time as a member of the government of Canada.

… I saw the power of partnerships, between the AKDN and Canada’s international development agency.

What I saw were lives transformed – the animating objective of the Aga Khan and the AKDN.

We, in Canada, have been longtime partners of the Aga Khan and the AKDN, and this partnership continues in the development of a new Islamic garden at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden. This public garden will soon welcome people of all ethnicities, races, languages and faiths, and be a place of peace, reflection, renewal and joy. We thank the Aga Khan for his generous gift to make this possible.

However one chooses to describe the Aga Khan and his years of service, he is, and has always has been, a person of foresight, peace, diplomacy and humility.”

Read more at Opinion: The Aga Khan: 60 years of remarkable service to the world, Troy Media, May 11, 2018

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Parliament of Canada (Senate & House of Commons)

Senate (Upper House): Senators

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer, Liberal Senator for British Columbia

“In 1958, as a young child, I saw His Highness the Aga Khan’s coronation in Kampala, Uganda. I was following my dad, Sherali Bandali Jaffer, as he organized the coronation.

60 years later, I thank His Highness the Aga Khan for the tremendous sacrifices he has personally made to improve the lives of Ismaili Muslims and people all around the world. I humbly thank him for all his hard work.”

Read more at Opinion: The Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee celebration: ‘An experience of a lifetime, which we will cherish all our lives,’  The Voice, May 9, 2018

Also, read complete remarks at https://sencanada.ca/en/content/sen/chamber/421/debates/201db_2018-05-03-e#9

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Hon. Peter Harder, Government Representative in the Senate “I had the honour to first meet this extraordinary world leader on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee 35 years ago.

Today I join with nearly 100,000 Canadians and 15 million Ismailis worldwide to recognize the contribution of the Aga Khan, who demonstrates how spiritual principles of peace and inclusion can manifest themselves in strong democratic institutions and in active policy-making and nation building.”

Read complete remarks at https://sencanada.ca/en/content/sen/chamber/421/debates/201db_2018-05-03-e#6

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Hon. Doug Black, Elected Senator representing Albertans & Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce https://twitter.com/DougBlackAB/status/994224521677819904

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Parliament of Canada (Senate & House of Commons)

House of Commons (Lower House): Members of Parliament

Arif Virani, Member of Parliament “As an Ismaili Canadian member of the House of Commons, I am very proud of the Aga Khan’s commitment to community service, as illustrated by Canada 150, when Ismaili Muslims gave this country over one million hours of volunteer service.”

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Yasmin Ratansi, Member of Parliament “His Highness promotes the shared values of pluralism, justice, compassion and of service to others. As PM Chretien stated “We may think it is the Canadian Way but it is in short supply in today’s world. And therefore it makes the work of the Aga Khan indispensable”. His Highness keeps persevering, undiminished and undeterred. And we need his passion and his message more than ever.”

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Erin O’Toole, Member of Parliament “Mr. Speaker, last night I joined three Governors General, three Prime Ministers from both sides of this chamber, parliamentarians, and prominent Canadians from the Ismaili community to celebrate the diamond jubilee for a special honorary Canadian, the Aga Khan.

For 60 years, this spiritual leader of the Ismaili community around the world has stood for tolerance and support for the most vulnerable. As Prime Minister Harper once said in this chamber, his leadership inspires us to hope for a better world.”

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Alexandra Mendes, Member of Parliament

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Anthony Housefather, Member of Parliament for Mount Royal

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Provincial Government

The Honourable, Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta and Leader of Alberta’s NDP “It’s my honour to welcome back an honorary Canadian citizen, visionary Muslim leader and great friend of our province, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan. Alberta thanks the Aga Khan for his friendship …

We congratulate him on 60 years of leadership, and we’re proud of the strong Ismaili community here that contributes so much to building our province. Diamond Jubilee Mubarak!”

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The Honourable, John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia

“It was a great honour to meet His Highness the Aga Khan on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee, and to welcome him to British Columbia.”

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The Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta A special message from The Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta welcoming His Highness the Aga Khan to Alberta for His Diamond Jubilee.

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The Honourable Janet Austin, 30th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and the representative of the Crown in the province.  “A very warm welcome to His Highness the Aga Khan upon his arrival in British Columbia. It was wonderful to greet His Highness and share congratulations on his Diamond Jubilee in person.”

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Jason Kenney, Leader of the United Conservative Party in Alberta “… wishing the Aga Khan a happy diamond jubilee. Let us also take a moment to reflect on the many ways the Ismaili community has enriched life here in our province of Alberta.”

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Stephen Mandel, Leader of the Alberta Party

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Andrew Wilkinson, Leader of BC Liberals, MLA for Vancouver-Quilchena “I want to welcome Aga Khan to Vancouver this weekend. And to the thousands of Ismaili Muslims celebrating – I wish you a blessed visit.”

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 Lorne Dach, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta “It was my pleasure to welcome His Highness the Aga Khan yesterday in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and to wish him Diamond Jubilee Mubarak”

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Ricardo Miranda, MLA for Calgary-Cross. Alberta’s  Minister of Culture & Tourism

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David Eggen, NDP MLA for Edmonton-Calder. Alberta’s Minister of Education

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Janet Routledge, Burnaby North MLA

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Joe Ceci, Alberta NDP MLA Calgary-Fort, Finance Minister (05/2015), Former Calgary Alderman for Ward 9 (’95-’10)

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Mayors & City Council

Naheed Nenshi, 36th Mayor of Calgary, Alberta “It was one of the singular honours of my life to welcome His Highness the Aga Khan to Calgary today. Congratulations to him and to all our Ismaili citizens on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee!

My perspective on ethics, faith and how each of us contributes to cultivating a strong, sound society has been shaped by Mawlana Hazar Imam. Welcoming him to the city I love was a proud moment.”

“My family’s story and the gift of community service given by Ismailis last year, in my mind, speak to the impact the Aga Khan has had in inspiring a sense of service and community-mindedness in this country.In my faith tradition, a common prayer roughly translates as “may God accept your service, and may the community be blessed by it.” Indeed, this country, and many around the world, have reaped the blessings of the service of Ismailis and ultimately that of the Aga Khan. For that, all of humanity can be deeply grateful.”

Read more at Opinion: Why I’m grateful for the Aga Khan’s extraordinary service to humanity, The Globe and Mail, May 8, 2018

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 Mayor Gregor Robertson and Vancouver City Hall, British Columbia

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 Derek Corrigan, Mayor of Burnaby, British Columbia Best wishes to the Ismaili Community on the special occasion of the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee visit to British Columbia

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Darrell Mussatto, Mayor of North Vancouver, British Columbia

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Mike Clay, Mayor of Port Moody, British Columbia The City of Port Moody has officially proclaimed May 4, 2018, as His Highness the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee Day

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Brian Bowman, Mayor of Winnipeg, Manitoba “Wishing the Aga Khan a wonderful visit to Canada on his Diamond Jubilee. Congratulations and thank you for over 60 years of compassionate work worldwide.”

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Charlie Clark, Mayor of Saskatoon, Sasketchewan

“I would like to welcome His Highness the Aga Khan to our country as he travels throughout Canada to celebrate his Diamond Jubilee. He is a strong voice in our world, working against inequality and for a more just society for everyone. Mulaqat Mubarak!”

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Chris Spearman, Mayor of Lethbridge, Alberta

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Shelley Carroll, Former City Councillor

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Civil Society Leaders

Jim Dinning, former Alberta finance minister and chancellor emeritus of the University of Calgary “As I celebrate with my Ismaili friends, I am struck by the commitment of the women and men of the community who are driven by the values of pluralism and compassion that are advocated by the Aga Khan. I am awed by the selfless contributions made by Ismailis to the fabric of Alberta society over the past 50 years.

In my political, business and civic activities, I have engaged with Ismailis from all walks of life, as they offered their time, knowledge and material resources to improve our province and country.

In 2010, when Stephen Harper made the Aga Khan an honorary Canadian citizen, the former prime minister spoke of the Aga Khan’s and the Ismaili community’s untiring dedication to making the world safe for democracy by first making it safe for diversity.

On the Aga Khan’s diamond jubilee, I thank those in Calgary’s and Alberta’s Ismaili community for their tremendous contributions to Canadian life.”

Read more at Opinion: Dinning: Aga Khan’s visit reminds us of the importance of compassion, Calgary Herald, May 4, 2018

Elizabeth Cannon, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calgary “This week, as the Aga Khan visits our city, we are reminded of our very significant partnership with the Aga Khan Development Network.These examples of his international outreach efforts — and our association with the various agencies throughout the network — highlight the deep connections forged by the University of Calgary and an important individual and an important international institution.On the occasion of his diamond jubilee, we congratulate the Aga Khan and look forward to continued positive collaborations in the years to come.”

Read more at Opinion: Cannon: Understanding and education spark important global connections, Calgary Herald, May 9, 2018

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Brian Heidecker, former Chair of the University of Alberta’s Board of Governors. He is a retired rancher and businessman who currently serves as the Chair of the Board of the Edmonton Public Library and Sawridge Trusts “In 2009, during my tenure as Chairman of the Board of Governors at the University of Alberta I had the pleasure of hearing His Highness the Aga Khan deliver his Convocation Address at the University of Alberta:

“In today’s community of nations, a country’s standing is no longer recognized simply by what it can achieve for itself, but just as much by what it can do for others. In this context, Canada has become a world ‘power’ in the best sense of that word.”

… Yet what might the Aga Khan – founder and Chairman of one of the world’s largest private development agencies – find in Edmonton?

The answer to the question ‘why Edmonton?’ I believe is reflected in two connected themes to which His Highness refers. The first is the idea of a knowledge society, and the second, the value of pluralism.

… So today, I congratulate His Highness on the occasion of his Diamond Jubilee, for all that he has done for Canada, for Alberta, and for those those around the world. With his confidence and generosity, the city of Edmonton and province of Alberta are better equipped to take their place at the frontiers of knowledge.”

Read more at Opinion: The Aga Khan is creating a global knowledge society, Daily Hive, May 10, 2018

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Ruth Ramsden-Wood, former CEO of the United Way of Calgary and Area, and a current board member of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) “I would like to express my gratitude to the Ismaili community for their exceptional commitment, under the Aga Khan’s leadership, to the betterment of the human condition globally and for their many achievements in Calgary and in Canada.

It has been my privilege and honour to witness this work in Calgary and to travel to Pakistan to provide due diligence on some international educational projects operated by the Aga Khan Development Network.

Ismaili Muslims share our values of service, ethics, civic responsibility and inclusiveness.

In Calgary, I have experienced how community service and “giving back to one’s community” are part of the Ismaili DNA. Ismaili youth are raised with the expectation of doing volunteer service and they are involved in myriad projects.

In the context of our current political climate, I look to the Ismaili community, intent on helping people reach their personal potential through education, as a shining example of hope and optimism for the future of our world. This diamond jubilee is certainly occasion for us all to celebrate.”

Read more at Opinion: Ramsden-Wood: Aga Khan is committed to fighting poverty, Calgary Herald, April 21, 2018

Jim Gray, Chris Robb, Brian Felesky, Sherali Saju and all the other 160 Awali families in Calgary “There has been a good amount of tribute paid to the Aga Khan recently because he is celebrating his diamond jubilee – 60 years of extraordinary service as head of the Ismaili (Shia Muslim) population of about 25 million people worldwide.

It is important to underscore, however, that during this time, he’s also been serving all the world — Ismailis and non-Ismailis alike — with leadership and incalculable generosity.

The impact of his work has been transformational for millions of people …

For the past 13 years, our three families — together with a group of more than 160 other Calgary families — have had the privilege of being connected to the work of the AKDN. Accordingly, we’d like to add our congratulations to His Highness the Aga Khan and the AKDN.

The magnanimity of the Aga Khan’s leadership and the AKDN’s monumental contributions are not widely known in the broader community, at least in the developed world. So, we felt sharing some of our experience and perspective might be worthwhile.”

Read more at Opinion: Celebrating the work of the Aga Khan Development Network, Calgary Herald, May 10, 2018

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Dave Mowat, President & CEO of ATB Financial “The Aga Khan is perhaps the leading community builder of our time, taking deliberate and repeated measures to cultivate a sense of community from the smallest villages on the other side of the planet to, literally, the entire world. At the basis for all this work is a deep-rooted commitment to improving people’s quality of life — from safe drinking water to telecommunications, from high quality education and health care to park preservation. He looks at communities holistically, recognizing that how we find contentment as individuals and societies is the sum of many, many parts.”

Read more at Opinion: Aga Khan’s contributions little-known, but significant, Edmonton Journal, May 9, 2018

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Barbara Grantham,  president and CEO of the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation “One of the lesser-known immigrant success stories has been that of the arrival, settlement, integration and success of the Ismaili community in Canada. The Ismailis provide us with a story of a journey seeking a better life, finding it and generously giving back to a new home.

I’d venture that most Canadians aren’t familiar with how and why Shia Ismaili Muslims arrived here.

… It’s remarkable that a community arriving here as a persecuted people, looking for shelter from a storm, have given back so much to the cities in which they live and this country as whole. Under the spiritual leadership of His Highness the Aga Khan, they’re a group of citizens who share a deeply held faith. They also share a deep commitment to contribute to the broader well-being of the communities in which they live. In Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, Ottawa, Montreal, and elsewhere across Canada, there are measurable ways in which Ismaili Canadians contribute to and make life better for all of us.

In volatile times, when, sadly, people tend to talk about what divides us rather than what unites us, it’s important to look to communities such as Canada’s Ismaili Muslims — those who don’t see the world through the lens of lines and divisions. The Ismaili community values social foundations that are valued by us all such as health care, education and family. Shia Ismaili Muslims are a people of faith. Just as importantly, they’re a people who strive to create strong, vibrant and resilient communities.”

Read more at FROM SHELTER IN A STORM, TO BUILDING A STRONG CANADA, Asian Pacific Post, May 1, 2018
and at Opinion: Barbara Grantham: Ismaili community shows what happens when Canada shelters good people from the storm, The Province, May 5, 2018

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Barinder Rasode, former City Councillor for the City of Surrey and current CEO of Niche Canada. “The world needs hope more now than ever before.

Early in 2017, Conservative MP Garnett Genius made a notable observation, that it was unfortunate that many Canadians who were not familiar with the Aga Khan would hear his name only in the context of the Prime Minister’s own violations of ethics transgressions.

That a global leader of such incredible moral stature and wide respect should have to be subject to the impact of national political squabbles, is sad development.

Canadians have been scratching their heads trying to understand the Aga Khan – a successful businessman, humanitarian, and Muslim leader – and what drives him.

At the same time, they should know that leaders from all political and social stripes have been tripping over themselves for decades to praise him.

It was Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who opened Canada’s doors to thousands of Ismaili refugees from Uganda in the 1970s. In 1985, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney attended the opening of the first Ismaili Centre in Burnaby, BC, showing “how proud we are that you have chosen Canada.”

In 2005, he was named a Companion of the Order of Canada from Prime Minister Paul Martin.

And from 2006 to 2010, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government:

  • Signed the funding agreement for the Global Centre for Pluralism
  • Green-lit and spoke at the establishment of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa
  • Participated in the foundation ceremony for the Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum and Park in Toronto
  • Made the Aga Khan an Honorary Canadian Citizen

But the admiration of the Aga Khan is not limited to Canada – governments and movers-and-shakers globally have all shown tremendous public support, giving him a staggering number of awards, honorary degrees, and keys to cities.

But why? What’s the big deal with the Aga Khan?”

Read more at Opinion: A beacon of hope: How the Aga Khan has shaped Canada and the world, Daily Hive, May 4, 2018

Tamara Vrooman is the president and CEO of Vancity credit union, and serves as a volunteer on the Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s National Committee “At a conference earlier this year, I moderated a panel on the role that values-based banks and credit unions can play in gender inclusion and equality.

… This story comes to mind this week because The First MicroFinance Bank — the bank that opened that all-women branch — is part of the Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance, and the work it does is just one of countless impacts the Aga Khan Development Network is making around the world.

I am inspired by this work, and by that foundational belief that everyone — no matter where you are or what you have — deserves the best opportunities, tools and resources. As a basic principle of international development it is not only rare, but also ambitious and deeply human. It speaks both to equality and to dignity, and to an approach that is making our world a better place to live”

Read more at Opinion: Tamara Vrooman: Aga Khan Network strives to improve lives, Vancouver Sun, May 4, 2018

Jagdeesh Mann, media professional and journalist “It was fitting that the Aga Khan was the driving force behind the establishment of Ottawa’s newly renovated home for the Centre for Pluralism. It reflected the mediating role the Ismaili community has come to play between East and West, in advancing the discourse for inclusion and openness.

While Queen Elizabeth II, who marked her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, anchored the British monarchy over this same turbulent period from the end of the colonial era and into this information age with all its accompanying intrusion of paparazzi and social media, the Aga Khan has expanded his Imamat institution through it.”

Read more at Opinion: Jagdeesh Mann: The Aga Khan brought prosperity to his faithful and now looks to uplift world’s bottom billion, The Georgia Straight, May 3, 2018

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Mulgrave School Vancouver, British Columbia Ismaili Flag raising ceremony at Mulgrave School Vancouver, celebrating community, commemorates the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan

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Research, Insight & Perspective by A. Maherali

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Author: ismailimail

Independent, civil society media featuring Ismaili Muslim community, its achievements and humanitarian works.

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