OTTAWA, Oct 7 /CNW/ – The Board of Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism, Canada’s new international research and education centre dedicated to the study and practice of pluralism worldwide gathered in Ottawa today for its inaugural two-day meeting .
Chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan, Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, the Board is composed of renowned Canadian and international leaders and thinkers. They include The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, former Governor General of Canada and Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations. Other members are: Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Head of the AKDN’s Social Welfare department, Iain Benson, Canadian lawyer and Professor of Law at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein; Yash Ghai, leading Kenyan constitutional expert; Rudyard Griffiths, co-founder of the Dominion Institute; Huguette Labelle, Chancellor, University of Ottawa; Azim Nanji, Senior Associate Director for the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, Stanford University; Margaret Ogilvie, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, Carleton University; and Khalil Shariff, Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC).
The Global Centre for Pluralism is an initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada. The Centre takes inspiration from Canada’s experience with pluralism and will focus on bringing knowledge about the benefits and practice of pluralism to other countries around the world.
Congratulations to Prof Yash Ghai on this appointment. And Azim Nanji, another East African.
Re the last sentence:
The Centre takes inspiration from Canada’s experience with pluralism and will focus on bringing knowledge about the benefits and practice of pluralism to other countries around the world…
In 1972, when Canada came and picked up “persons of undefined nationality” from Uganda following their disenfranchisement by dictator Idi Amin Dada it was the first time such a large number of non-white refugees were being admitted to Canada. During that three-month deadline Canada admitted 6,789 stateless and other Asians to Canada. The Ismailis were in the majority of the stateless as they had opted for Uganda citizenship on independence. The Aga Khan played a pivotal role in negotiating their entry into Canada with Prime Minister Pierre Eliott Trudeau, a hero now to all Uganda Asian emigres. Their successful assimilation is sometimes credited with the passing of the Multiculturism Act by Canada in 1980. My book in dealing with the 1972 event devotes considerable space to the evolution of Canda’s immigration laws from 1880 onwards. Of course it has a number of pages on the Canada rescue mission (a first; from the diary of the chef de mission) and how criteria for admitting the “refugees” were being evolved on the go. Practically for the first time the notion of “sponsored” refugees came into being as Ugandan Asians who had entered British Columbia prior to 1972 (as far back as 1965, mostly Ismailis from Mbale) sent in telegrams to their friends and families of sponsorship. They were given preference in the (orderly) immigration queue – or line up as Uganda Asians now say unfailingly. And eh – pronounced ei – at the end of every sentence, whether interrogative, declarative, exclamatory or whatever-itive.
Once I am done with this albatross I should very much like to do archival research at Ottawa on the decision-making during the Uganda Asian “humanitarion” crisis.
Vali Jamal, BA Cambridge, PhD Stanford, currently Vancouver, Canada, normally Kampala, Uganda
Ugandan Asians: Then and Now, Here and There (666 pp), forthcoming Jul 2011.
Thanks for providing all the related information about pluralism-its Centre, Board Members, and their
activities. Above all I am pleased to learn that Hazar Imam is here and I wish I would have been there.
No doubt about it that this linkage gives me update of Ismailis around the world.