1)CANADA TO GRANT HONORARY CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP TO HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN, JUNE 9TH 2009
Paul Calandra(PC MP, Markham-Oak Ridges, Ontario) lauded His Highness The Aga Khan and his institutions and requested Prime Minister Harper to provide any updates regarding the Aga Khan, to which the Prime Minister replied:
"Mr. Speaker, first, I think I speak on behalf of all members in congratulating His Highness the Aga Khan on receiving an honorary doctorate today from the University of Alberta.
The Aga Khan, with his network of agencies, is a great partner and long-time friend of Canada, and a great benefactor to humanity. He is truly a beacon of humanitarianism, of pluralism and of tolerance throughout the entire world.
I have informed the Aga Khan that our government will be seeking the consent of the House to extend honorary citizenship to His Highness. I hope that all members will see fit to confirm it."(Prime Minister Stephen Harper(PC MP-Calgary Southwest, Alberta), Canadian House of Commons, Ottawa, Canada, June 9th 2009)
2)BIRTHDAY GREETING FROM PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER TO HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN, DECEMBER 13TH 2008
".....For half a century His Highness the Aga Khan has provided spiritual guidance to the Ismaili community and served as a benevolent leader in the world. He has made it his life's mission to provide development and humanitarian aid in countries beset by conflict and poverty. More fundamentally he has promoted dialogue, understanding and respect among different faiths and cultures....."(Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ottawa, Canada, December 13th 2008)
3)PEACE, PROSPERITY AND EQUALITY THROUGH PLURALISM: INAUGURATION OF THE DELEGATION OF THE ISMAILI IMAMAT BY HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN AND PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER, DECEMBER 6TH 2008
"Off the top, your Highness, let me congratulate you on your Golden Jubilee as Imam of the world’s Shia Ismaili Muslims. For half a century you have provided spiritual guidance for Ismailis and worked to improve the quality of life in their communities.
Your name has also become synonymous with humanitarian aid and development in countries beset by conflict and poverty.
And perhaps most importantly of all, you have acted as a bridge-builder between faiths and cultures. In a world still riven by sectarian strife, this is very important work indeed........
........So it is with the Ismailis of Canada. The blossoming of the Ismaili community in Canada offers a ray of hope to the world. By demonstrating that diverse congregations of the great faiths can co-exist and flourish peacefully here, we are proving that there indeed can be unity in diversity.
It is crucial that this message be heard in countries and regions where religious persecution and sectarian violence destroy the lives of innocent human beings. This message will be transmitted from Canada to the world through the programs, policy and diplomacy that will emanate from this Delegation of the IsmailI Imamat.
These efforts will complement the work of the Global Centre for Pluralism, also here in Ottawa, which was initiated last year as a partnership of our government and the Aga Khan Development Network. Working together, your Highness, we are effectively making Canada the headquarters of the global effort to foster peace, prosperity and equality through pluralism.
Sectarianism has been part of the human condition for millennia; it will not easily give way to pluralism and harmony. But this vision has been the inspiring lifelong goal of the Aga Khan.
And when it is achieved, ladies and gentlemen, I believe the world will look a lot like Canada. Thank You"(Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Inauguration of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, Ottawa, Canada, December 6th 2008)
4)IMAMAT DAY GREETINGS FROM THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA, JULY 11TH 2008
".....Celebrating over five decades as Imam His Highness the Aga Khan has earned the respect of the Ismaili community, and people around the world, as a philanthropic and benevolent leader. Through the Aga Khan Development Network(AKDN) His Highness has contributed significantly to the advancement and stability of Asia and Africa"(Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ottawa, Canada, July 11th 2008)
5)REMARKS BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE STEPHEN HARPER, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA ON THE OCCASION OF THE SIGNING OF THE FUNDING AGREEMENT FOR THE GLOBAL CENTER FOR PLURALISM(OTTAWA, CANADA), OCTOBER 25TH 2006
"We are honoured that His Highness, leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims, and one of the world's best known philanthropists, has chosen Canada as the home of this global institution.
Honoured, but not surprised.
The Aga Khan once described Canada as “the most successful pluralist society on the face of our globe.”
Canadians wear that label with pride, Your Highness. Pluralism is not merely an ambition or ideal for Canadians.
We actually walk the talk.
Pluralism is the principle that binds our diverse peoples together........
........And now it is my great honour to offer the podium to one of the world’s great philanthropists, a man who has dedicated his life to the promotion of peace, and who is a beacon of hope and good will toward all humanity. His Highness the Aga Khan."(Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ottawa, Canada, October 25th 2006)
6)MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP, IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURALISM HON. JASON KENNEY SENDS NAVROZ GREETINGS ON BEHALF OF THE HARPER GOVERNMENT, AND A MESSAGE, FROM HUMAYUN'S TOMB, NEW DELHI, INDIA, JANUARY 26TH 2009 AND MARCH 21ST 2009
"When this trip was being planned I asked....my communications director, to see if we could fit in a visit to a place that would highlight some of the work the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has done and continues to do. Humayun’s Tomb is one perfect example of AKDN’s efforts to revive interest in Islamic architecture and heritage and to plan its programs so that a maximum number of people around a particular project can benefit from it....
....I was also fascinated by the ‘Chahar Baag‘ garden reconstruction which, I am told, was done by AKDN according to the original plans and documents from the archives and reflects a Persian style and ethos. ‘Chahar Baag’ is one large garden divided into four gardens by water channels at right angles to each other, which symbolises the four rivers of Paradise. I actually think that the symbolism represented by the garden’s symmetry reminds me of the wonderful speech made by His Highness The Aga Khan a few weeks ago at the opening of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa in which he spoke poetically about the symbolism of the rock crystal part of the roof of that stunning building"(Hon. Jason Kenney, January 26th 2009, Humayun's Tomb, New Delhi, India)
7)MINISTER OF CITIZENSHIP, IMMIGRATION AND MULTICULTURALISM HON. JASON KENNEY EXTENDS BIRTHDAY WISHES ON BEHALF OF THE HARPER GOVERNMENT TO HIS HIGHNESS PRINCE KARIM AGA KHAN, DECEMBER 13TH 2008
"I would like to extend warm birthday wishes to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan.
As a spiritual leader of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim people, the Aga Khan is an extraordinary example of compassion and tolerance. This is most evident in the Aga Khan Development Network, which he founded and now chairs....
......I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with the Aga Khan several times, most recently during his latest visit to Canada. Each time, I was impressed by a man who has done so much for the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim people and humanity. In the words of Prime Minister Harper, “his name has become synonymous with humanitarian aid and development in countries beset by conflict and poverty. Just as importantly, he has worked tirelessly as a bridge-builder between faiths and cultures.”
His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is truly an inspiration and I wish him a long, healthy and blessed life.”(Hon. Jason Kenney, December 12th 2008)
8)PHOTO GALLERY OF CONSERVATIVE MINISTER JASON KENNEY, REPRESENTING THE HARPER GOVERNMENT, WITH MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM, FRIDAY DECEMBER 5TH 2008
9)CONSERVATIVE MINISTER JASON KENNEY RECEIVES MAWLANA HAZAR IMAM AND NOORANI FAMILY, ON BEHALF OF THE HARPER GOVERNMENT, AT OTTAWA AIRPORT FRIDAY DECEMBER 5TH 2008
10)MINISTERS JASON KENNEY AND JAMES MOORE, ON BEHALF OF THE HARPER GOVERNMENT, MEET WITH HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN; JOYOUS IMAGES CHARACTERISE OTTAWA MEETING AND ITS AFTERMATH, NOVEMBER 19TH 2008
11)CANADIAN SECRETARY OF STATE FOR MULTICULTURALISM HON. JASON KENNEY, ON BEHALF OF THE HARPER GOVERNMENT, EXTENDS CONGRATULATIONS TO HIS HIGHNESS PRINCE KARIM AGA KHAN ON THE 51ST ANNIVERSARY OF HIS ACCESSION AS IMAM, JULY 11TH 2008
"I am pleased to join Canadian Ismailis, as well as Ismailis around the world, in marking the accession of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan as Imam of the Shi’a Ismaili Muslims.
Mowlana Hazar Imam has now led the Ismaili Muslims for more than half a century. During those years he has exerted a profound influence within his community and far beyond. Canada has greatly benefited from members of the Ismaili community who have made this country their home and who contribute to all aspects of Canadian life......
......We are also honoured that His Highness is establishing the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa and the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre in Toronto.
The Government of Canada is pleased to have a valued partner in the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
As Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), I extend sincere congratulations to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan on the 51st anniversary of his accession as Imam. I encourage all Canadians to join in the Imamat Day celebrations and to learn more about the remarkable contributions of the Aga Khan and the Canadian Ismaili community"(Hon. Jason Kenney, Ottawa, Canada, July 11th 2008)
12)HON. JASON KENNEY, SECRETARY OF STATE, SENDS NAVROZ AND MILAD GREETINGS ON BEHALF OF THE HARPER GOVERNMENT, MARCH 2ST 2008
13)DECLARATION ON BEHALF OF CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER ON THE BIRTHDAY OF HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN, DECEMBER 13TH 2007
"I join with people around the world in wishing His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan a happy birthday, and the Ismaili community in Canada a hearty Salgirah Mubarak and Khushiali Mubarak.....
......As Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity) and on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I commend His Highness the Aga Khan for his humanitarian efforts, and I wish him a long and healthy life."(Hon. Jason Kenney, Ottawa, December 13th 2007)
14)OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT OF CANADA STATEMENT BY MINISTER JASON KENNEY, ON BEHALF OF PRIME MINISTER STEPHEN HARPER, ON THE GOLDEN JUBILE YEAR OF PRINCE KARIM AGA KHAN AS IMAM OF THE SHIA ISMAILI MUSLIMS, JULY 11TH 2007
"I am pleased to join Canadians, as well as individuals from around the world, in recognizing the Golden Jubilee Year of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan as Imam of the Shi’a Ismaili Muslims..
His Highness the Aga Khan became the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslim community on July 11, 1957.
Canada has benefited enormously from the significant contributions of Ismaili Muslims—whether it is Rahim Jaffer, the first Muslim elected to Parliament, to the countless entrepreneurs and CEOs who strengthen our economy, create jobs, and personify the inclusiveness of the free enterprise system......
As Secretary of State (Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity), and on behalf of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, I encourage Canadians to celebrate the Golden Jubilee Year of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan as Imam of the Shi’a Ismaili Muslims by learning more about the Aga Khan’s substantial contributions to international development, and the Canadian Ismaili community’s very impressive achievements"(Hon Jason Kenney(PC MP-Calgary Southeast, Alberta), Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Canadian Identity, Ottawa, Canada, July 11th 2007)
Date: June 19, 2009For immediate release
STATEMENT BY THE PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA
Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued the following statement today on the House of Commons passing a motion to grant Honorary Canadian Citizenship to His Highness the Aga Khan:
“Today, on the advice of our Government, the House of Commons voted to bestow Honorary Canadian Citizenship upon His Highness the Aga Khan.
“This is recognition of the Aga Khan’s leadership as a champion of development, pluralism and tolerance around the world and of his remarkable leadership as Imam of the worldwide Ismaili community.
“Our Government appreciates the work of the Aga Khan Development Network to improve the quality of life of people in many of the world’s most impoverished nations. In particular, we are grateful for the immense contribution the Aga Khan Development Network is making in Afghanistan, as we work together to help the people of that country build a better future.
“Closer to home, our Government is proud to partner with the Aga Khan to build the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa. This centre will promote ethnic, cultural and religious exchange and education - values that we hold dear as Canadians. I look forward to welcoming the Aga Khan back to Canada as an Honorary Citizen, and continuing to work closely with him to improve tolerance, pluralism and development around the world.”
PMO Press Office: 613-957-5555
Madam Speaker, I have the distinct pleasure and privilege of rising to present the following motion. There have been consultations between all parties. I hope you will find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
THAT, Whereas His Highness the Aga Khan, leader of the worldwide Ismaili Muslim Community, is a beacon of humanitarianism, pluralism and tolerance throughout the world;Whereas in addition to the spiritual leadership he provides to the worldwide Ismaili community, the Aga Khan is also actively involved in humanitarian and development projects throughout Asia and Africa;
Whereas Canadians are grateful for the Aga Khan’s efforts in Afghanistan where today The Aga Khan Development Network is a vital partner in our efforts to secure and improve the lives of Afghan citizens;
Whereas Canada is proud to have partnered with the Aga Khan to build the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa which will promote ethnic, cultural and religious tolerance in Canada and worldwide;
Whereas Canada has previously acknowledged the contributions of other leading champions of human dignity, by granting them honorary Canadian citizenship;
Therefore, this House resolves to bestow the title “honorary Canadian citizen” on His Highness the Aga Khan.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Denise Savoie):
Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to move the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Acting Speaker (Ms. Denise Savoie): The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
(Motion agreed to)
“I would like to extend warm birthday wishes to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan.
“The Aga Khan has now been the spiritual leader of the Shia Nizari Ismaili Muslims for more than half a century. During that time he has exerted a profound influence both within and far beyond his community, and has become an extraordinary example of compassion and tolerance.
“This is most evident in the Aga Khan Development Network, which he founded and now chairs, and which works towards social, economic, and cultural development in Asia and Africa.
“It is an honour for Canada that the Aga Khan has chosen Ottawa as the site of the Global Centre for Pluralism and the new Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, and that he is establishing the Aga Khan Museum and the Ismaili Centre in Toronto.
“Earlier this year, in a moment of great pride for Canadians, His Highness was granted honourary Canadian citizenship in recognition of what Prime Minister Harper described as his ‘leadership as a champion of development, pluralism and tolerance around the world.’
“As Prime Minister Harper has said, ‘his name has become synonymous with humanitarian aid and development in countries beset by conflict and poverty. Just as importantly, he has worked tirelessly as a bridge-builder between faiths and cultures.’
“As Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I wish His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan a long, healthy, and blessed life.”
ELEVENTH UPDATE ON MAY 26TH 2010
28 May 2010
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the following remarks at the Foundation Ceremony for the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum and Park :
Prime Minister Harper,Madame Clarkson,Honourable Ministers,Excellencies,Distinguished Guests,Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me begin by expressing my profound appreciation for the great honour which this country has paid to me today by extending this generous gift of Honorary Canadian Citizenship.
I have been deeply moved by your gracious gesture — which I also regard as a tribute to the institution of the Ismaili Imamat, which I represent. It is a significant recognition of the values which our community of faith shares with the people of Canada.
Je suis très profondément touché par l’immense honneur que vous m’avez si généreusement accordé, à moi personnellement et à l’Imamat Ismaili.
Mr Prime Minister, I have always felt very much at home in Canada, but never more so than at this moment.
It also means a great deal to me that all of you can be here today. This Foundation Ceremony marks a particularly important moment for my family and me — and such moments take on added meaning when they can be shared with colleagues and friends, and with so many men and women whom I deeply admire.
The projects we celebrate have been in the development process, as you may know, for some time — and perhaps, if I may say so, for a somewhat longer time than some of us may have expected! But I have learned that sometimes a bit of extra patience in the planning process can lead to even wider opportunities — and that is precisely what happened in this case.
Our original plans were to build here a new Ismaili Jamatkhana, a space of prayer, contemplation and community interaction. But as time went along and added space became available, the concept grew. It now includes three elements: a new Ismaili Centre — the sixth such representational building in the world; a new Aga Khan Museum; and a beautiful, welcoming Park, which will link these two new buildings.
Together, these three projects will symbolise the harmonious integration of the spiritual, the artistic and the natural worlds — in keeping with the holistic ideal which is an intimate part of Islamic tradition. At the same time they will also express a profound commitment to inter-cultural engagement, and international cooperation.
Our gathering this afternoon signifies the emergence of these projects from the planning stage into the building stage — from the realm of creative imagination into the realm of tangible construction.
This creative process has itself been a remarkable international story — bringing together the designs of architects from Japan, India and Lebanon, working with the Toronto firm of Moriyama and Teshima, and adapting age-old architectural traditions in a contemporary Canadian idiom. We look forward to the full realisation of their aspirations.
But even as we look ahead, it is only right that we look also to the past, including of course, the story of Canada’s historic welcome to displaced Ismailis in the 1970s and later, and to their successful integration. Certainly this process, and the contributions Ismailis have made in so many walks of life, have also reflected the encouragement they received to rebuild here, their traditional institutions and social structures.
In looking back over these recent decades, I also think of the close cooperation which the Aga Khan Development Network has enjoyed with Canadian institutions such as CIDA — the Canadian International Development Agency — which continues to be a key partner in addressing needs in the developing world.
We appreciate, too, the strong relationships our educational institutions enjoy with great Canadian centres of learning — including McMaster and McGill Universities, the University of Toronto and the University of Alberta.
We are also proud of the partnering with the Canadian Government in the development of the Global Centre for Pluralism, based in Ottawa, which will express our shared conviction that the progress of civilisation depends on our ability to understand, embrace and energise the power of human diversity.
You can see the strong base of cooperative endeavour from which this Wynford Drive project has emerged, inspired as well by Toronto’s own success as a vibrant cultural centre.
Let me discuss briefly each of the three project elements, beginning with the Aga Khan Museum.
As our plans began to take shape, we came to realise that the Museum’s focus on the arts of Islam will make it a unique institution in North America, contributing to a better understanding of Islamic civilisations — and especially of the plurality within Islam and of Islam’s relationship to other traditions. It will be a place for sharing a story, through art and artefacts, of highly diverse achievements — going back over 1 400 years. It will honour the central place within Islam of the search for knowledge and beauty. And it will illuminate the inspiration which Muslim artists have drawn from faith, and from a diverse array of epics, from human stories of separation and loss, of love and joy — themes which we know reverberate eloquently across the diverse cultures of humanity.
In a world in which some speak of a growing clash of civilisations, we believe the Museum will help address what is not so much a clash of civilisations, as it is a clash of ignorances. The new Museum will have a strong educational vocation: it will be a place for active inquiry, for discussion and research, for lectures and seminars, and for an array of collaborative programs with educational institutions and with other museums.
A major part of the gallery space will be dedicated to visiting and temporary exhibitions — building on exhibitions of our collection that have taken place in London, Paris, Lisbon and Berlin — and are now planned for St Petersburg, Doha, Istanbul and Los Angeles. A state-of-the-art auditorium will also host programs featuring the performing arts and cinema.
My own family has been intimately involved in Islamic cultural history, notably during the Fatimid Caliphate which, a thousand years ago, founded one of the world’s first, great universities in Cairo. The core collection of the new Museum in Toronto includes elements that have been gathered by my family through many generations, including the miniatures collected by my uncle, the late Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, which will be displayed in a replica of the Bellerive room from my late uncle’s home in Geneva. We are deeply grateful to Princess Catherine for this generous gift.
I should emphasise, as well, that the Museum building itself will be an important work of art — designed by the great Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki. Many of you know his superb building in Ottawa that has been the home for the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat since 2008.
That Delegation building was inspired by the evanescent mysteries of rock crystal. The new Toronto Museum will take as its theme the concept of light — suffusing the building from a central courtyard, through patterned glass screens. From the outside, it will glow by day and by night, lit by the sun and the moon. This use of light speaks to us of the Divine Light of the Creator, reflected in the glow of individual human inspiration and vibrant, transparent community.
As the poet Rumi has written: “The light that lights the eye is also the light of the heart… but the light that lights the heart is the Light of God.”
The Museum in Toronto will belong to the institutional framework of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, already the sponsor of projects for restoring and preserving cultural heritage in places such as Syria, India, Pakistan, and parts of Central Asia, as well as museums in Egypt, Zanzibar and Chantilly in France.
Like the Museum, the Ismaili Centre will also be part of a supportive global network — a group of Centres that now includes Vancouver, London, Lisbon, Dubai and Dushanbe — and with new Centres planned in Houston, Los Angeles and Paris. The focal point of the Toronto Centre will be a circular prayer hall, dedicated to spiritual reflection, while other spaces will provide for deeper engagement with the broader community among whom Ismailis live.
The Centre has been designed by Charles Correa, the award-winning architect based in Mumbai. The building will feature a crystalline frosted glass dome — standing like a great beacon on top of a building that is itself at the highest point of the site — and illuminating the Prayer Hall and its Qibla wall.
What about the Park?
The Park will comprise some 75 000 square metres — and what an impressive site it will be! It was designed by Vladimir Djurovic, a Lebanon- based artist, who was selected for this role following an international competition.
His design draws upon the concept of the traditional Islamic garden, and especially the gardens of the Alhambra, which flourished during the great era of Spanish history when Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together in creative harmony.
The Park will combine quiet spaces with lively ones, open areas with more defined shapes, formality with informality, the traditional with the contemporary. It will be part of a series of parks developed through the Aga Khan Trust for Culture — ranging from Al-Azhar Park in Cairo, to the Khorog Park in Tajikistan, from the restoration of Babur’s Gardens in Kabul and the gardens of Humayan’s Tomb in Delhi, to the Forodhani Park in Zanzibar and new parks now under development in Bamako, Nairobi, Vancouver and Edmonton.
All in all, the Wynford Drive complex will represent a rich tapestry woven from widely varied strands. And the fact that we have come so far in pursuit of this dream owes everything to those who have believed in it so deeply.
We are grateful for the support of so many public officials, successive Canadian Prime Ministers, regional and city leaders, and local ward councillors like John Parker and his predecessor, Jane Pitfield. We also salute the contractors from Carillion who are working to implement the project, as well as our museum partners from around the world, the members of the Bata family whose support has been so helpful, and the staff and volunteers who have given so much of themselves to this effort.
We owe a great deal to all who have made gifts of time and treasure and endeavour to this project, including, most especially, the Ismaili community in Canada and around the world who have contributed to the development of Ismaili Centres and Jamatkhanas, and to the fund which was set up to commemorate my Golden Jubilee. This project has been designated as a Golden Jubilee project, and is a beneficiary of those generous gifts.
Finally, my thanks, again, go to all of you for joining in this event. I hope you will feel, as I do, that you have been part of a distinctive observance — celebrating efforts which is impressive in scale, in aesthetic ambition, and in its cultural inspiration — contributing in the best way possible to Canada’s pluralism.
As we look ahead, we can anticipate with some confidence that the Wynford Drive project will be a beautiful part of the future — a proud gift from our generation to future generations — even as it celebrates so fittingly what past generations have given to us.