PM to Welcome His Highness the Aga Khan to Canada
By A Correspondent
Prime Minister Stephen Harper on February 7 announced that His Highness the Aga Khan will make an official visit to Canada later in February. During his visit, the Aga Khan will meet with Prime Minister Harper, who has invited him to deliver an historic address to Parliament.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “Our Government is honoured to once again welcome His Highness the Aga Khan to Canada. Our country has a warm and lasting friendship with His Highness, who was granted honorary Canadian citizenship for his leadership as a champion of international development, pluralism and tolerance around the world.”
Canada has a warm and enduring relationship with the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the world's 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims. The Government of Canada has a strong, long-standing relationship with the institutions of the Ismaili Imamat, including the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) and the Aga Khan Development Network. AKFC is a trusted partner of Canada on a wide range of international development initiatives, including in Afghanistan, in the areas of health, education, rural and economic development, and the creation of new opportunities for women. The Network’s underlying ethic is that of compassion for the most vulnerable in society and service to humanity without regard to faith, origin or gender.
- Since taking on his role as Imam in 1957, the Aga Khan has been deeply engaged in improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations, while emphasizing the need to uphold human dignity as well as respect for tolerance and pluralism. There are more than 100,000 Shia Ismaili Muslims in Canada.
- The Aga Khan was formally granted honorary citizenship in May 2010 during an official visit to Canada. This initiative was passed unanimously in the House of Commons on June 19, 2009.
- In May 2010, the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Harper took part in the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Museum and Park in Toronto. The Aga Khan Museum is the first museum in North America dedicated exclusively to the arts of the Islamic world. The museum seeks to inform, educate and inspire audiences about the arts of the Islamic world and the plurality within Islam whereas the network of Ismaili Centres globally, through their design and function, reflect and illustrate the Ismaili community’s intellectual and spiritual understanding of Islam, its social conscience and its tolerant attitude.
- In October 2006, Prime Minister Harper announced that our Government was partnering with the Aga Khan to establish the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa. The Centre promotes pluralism internationally as a means to advance good governance, peace and human development. It also supports academic and professional development, provides advisory services, and supports research and learning in developed and developing countries.
- The Government of Canada and the Aga Khan Foundation cooperate in development projects around the world, including in Afghanistan, Pakistan and eastern Africa. Collaboration has been particularly strong on promoting maternal, newborn and child health - one of Canada’s development priorities - including in Afghanistan, Tanzania, Mali, Mozambique and Pakistan.
- The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, international, non-denominational agencies, established by His Highness the Aga Khan, working to improve living conditions and opportunities for people in some of the poorest parts of the developing world. The network is active in over 30 countries and employs over 80,000 people globally. Its nine agencies address complex development issues including the provision of quality healthcare and education services, cultural and economic revitalization, micro-enterprise, entrepreneurship and economic development, the advancement of civil society and the protection of the environment.