Centre to study, promote pluralism
Oct. 26, 2006. 01:00 AM
OTTAWA—Canada’s tolerant, multicultural values need to be adopted worldwide, the Aga Khan said yesterday as he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the creation of a new Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa.
Housed in the former war museum not far from the Prime Minister’s residence, it will act as an international centre for promoting the concept that diverse ethnic, cultural, racial and religious groups can co-exist in harmony without compromising their identities.
At a time when people are talking about “an inevitable clash of civilizations,” the need for acceptance of this pluralistic ideal has never been greater, said the Aga Khan, who is the spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili Muslims living in more than 25 countries.
He said “the world’s survival” depends on the ability of diverse peoples to avoid conflict and war.
The federal government has contributed $30 million and the Aga Khan Development Network, which is taking out a long-term lease from the government on the one-time war museum, will put in an equal amount to fund the centre and refurbish the museum.
The Aga Khan, a Harvard graduate who succeeded his grandfather as imam of the Ismailis in 1957, has described Canadians’ embrace of a tolerant, multicultural society as “Canada’s gift to the world.”
Yesterday, he said he is grateful to Canadians for making the former war museum available.
A non-denominational, non-profit organization, the centre will bring together a board of directors made up of Canadians and high-profile individuals from other countries.
It will provide professional development, advisory services and research on the development of tolerant, multicultural societies around the world.