2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 80
Thursday, September 25, 2014
The Honourable Pierre Claude Nolin, Speaker pro tempore
Aga Khan Museum
Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: On Friday, September 12, His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan opened the doors to the Aga Khan Museum, which is the first museum in North America that is dedicated exclusively to Islamic arts and cultures.
Along with the Ismaili Centre, the Aga Khan Museum is situated within a 6.8-hectare landscaped park, a new public space that has greatly enhanced Toronto’s architectural and culturally-diverse landscape.
The museum, which was designed by celebrated Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, houses a permanent collection of over 1,000 objects, including rare masterpieces that reach back more than 10 centuries and span from China to Spain.
Honourable senators, the true appeal of the Aga Khan Museum lies not in the meditative gardens, glass domes or reflective pools that surround it. The true beauty lies in the concepts and ideologies the museum promotes, and in the message it sends to the world.
Although Muslims constitute over a quarter of the world’s population, knowledge of Islam, particularly in Western societies, is extremely limited and often misinformed.
During the opening ceremonies, Prince Amyn Aga Khan, the brother of the Aga Khan, touched upon this lack of understanding and explained:
Despite the advances we have witnessed through improved technology and through globalization, a knowledge gap continues to exist and perhaps even grow, and the result of that gap is a vacuum within which myths and stereotypes can so easily fester, fed by the amplification of extreme minority voices.
. . . I believe strongly that art and culture can have a profound impact in healing misunderstanding and in fostering trust even across great divides. This is the extraordinary purpose, the special mandate, to which this Museum is dedicated.
The Aga Khan Museum seeks to inform, educate and inspire audiences about the arts, culture and contributions of Muslim societies. It fosters understanding and demonstrates the plurality within Muslim civilizations.
Honourable senators, September 12 was indeed a proud and joyous day for Ismaili Muslims across the country. We Canadian Ismailis will be eternally grateful that the Aga Khan chose Canada to build this museum.
However, it was also an important day for Canada as we have once again demonstrated to the world that diversity and pluralism are important parts of the Canadian identity.