Mansoor Ladha | | Posted: 27 March 2014 – “When you are in Canada, you are home!” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said while welcoming the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the world’s 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims, who was due to address the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.
The Aga Khan joins six other distinguished personalities to receive honorary Canadian citizenship. The honour has been bestowed on Nelson Mandela, Raoul Wallenberg, the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Aga Khan and Malala Yousafzai.
The bond between Canada and the Aga Khan began when Canada’s Ismailli community fled Uganda 40 years ago to begin life in Canada as penniless refugees. “Yet, from that moment on, Canada’s Ismailis have become one of Canada’s most successful immigration stories,” Harper said in his opening address before the audience made of parliamentarians, senators, judges and members of the diplomatic corps amid thunderous applause.