2nd Session, 41st Parliament,

Volume 149, Issue 26

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan

Congratulations on Seventy-seventh Birthday

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, this Friday, December 13, Ismaili Muslims residing in 25 countries around the world will gather to celebrate the seventy-seventh birthday of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan.

As a proud Muslim woman, I stand in this chamber to speak about the great work his Highness the Aga Khan, an honourary citizen of Canada, has done both here and abroad for the well- being of humanity. His Highness has given many gifts to humanity. Today, however, I would like to speak about five gifts that His Highness has given to Canadians that have forever changed Canada.

The first and perhaps most important gift is the gift of an education for boys and girls alike. The Aga Khan and his grandfather before him always emphasized the importance of obtaining a quality education. That is why the Aga Khan has invested in more than 200 primary and secondary schools in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Uganda, Tanzania and Tajikistan. I received a world-class education in Kampala, Uganda, at the Aga Khan nursery, primary and secondary schools.

Thanks to the Aga Khan’s belief in the importance of educating girls, in fact many girls can attend Aga Khan schools and receive a quality education.

Second, he arranged with Prime Minister Trudeau for thousands of Ugandan refugees to seek asylum in Canada. He found us and many other Ismailis the best country in the world to live in.

Third, he encouraged Shia Ismailis Muslims to always call Canada our permanent home. As a result, with enthusiasm and confidence we are doing our part to contribute meaningfully to Canadian society. In his words, “We should never become a demotivated, marginalized minority and instead demonstrate the will to rebuild our future.”

The fourth gift that the Aga Khan has given to all Canadians is that he has highlighted to us the strengths of our pluralistic society, referring to our shared conviction that the progress of civilization depends on our ability to understand, embrace and energize the power of human diversity, describing Canada as one of the most respected pluralist societies in today’s heavily fractured world.

The Aga Khan has partnered with our government to establish the new Global Centre for Pluralism so that other societies may benefit from this pluralist model.

As the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada recently noted in awarding His Highness its 2013 gold medal, His Highness the Aga Khan’s visionary architectural patronage has resulted in new Canadian landmarks, such as the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby; the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, Ottawa; the Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan Museum and park currently being developed in Toronto; and an Islamic garden to be built within the University of Alberta’s Devonian Botanic Garden outside Edmonton.

Since ascending to the position of Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, His Highness has dedicated his life to improving the quality of life not only for Ismailis but also for some of the most vulnerable populations throughout the world. Here in Canada, we share these values and aspirations and are happy to extend warm birthday wishes and Khushiali Mubarak to His Highness the Aga Khan.

 

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