Prime Minister Stephen Harper today joined His Highness the Aga Khan in the official opening of the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum, situated in the Don Mills area of Toronto, Ontario. He was joined by Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages.
While at the Ismaili Centre, the Prime Minister toured the complex which incorporates spaces for social and cultural gatherings, intellectual engagement and reflection, as well as spiritual contemplation.
He then visited the Aga Khan Museum, which also held its inaugural ceremony on the same day. The Museum’s collection, which includes art and artefacts from the permanent collection of His Highness the Aga Khan and members of his family, is dedicated to presenting an overview of the artistic, intellectual and scientific contributions that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage.
Across Canada, Canadian Ismailis joined together at mosques and gathering places to watch a livestream of the events with their communities.
- His Highness the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the world’s 15 million Shia Ismaili Muslims.
- There are more than 100,000 Shia Ismaili Muslims in Canada.
- Since taking on his role as Imam in 1957, His Highness the Aga Khan has been deeply engaged in improving the quality of life of the most vulnerable populations, while emphasizing the need to uphold human dignity as well as respect for tolerance and pluralism.
- The first Canadian Ismaili Centre was opened in Burnaby, British Columbia, in 1985.
- There are currently six Ismaili Centres globally, including the Centre in Toronto. The network of Ismaili Centres reflects and illustrates, through design and function, the Ismaili community’s intellectual and spiritual understanding of Islam, its social conscience and its tolerant attitude.
- His Highness the Aga Khan was formally granted honorary citizenship in May 2010 during an official visit to Canada. During that visit, Prime Minister Harper and His Highness took part in the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Aga Khan Museum and Park.
- The Museum is the first in North America dedicated exclusively to the arts and artefacts of the Islamic world.
- On February 27, 2014, His Highness the Aga Khan became the first faith leader to address the Joint Session of Canada’s Parliament.
- Our longstanding development partnership was evidenced this past May, as the Aga Khan attended Prime Minister Harper’s Saving Every Woman Every Child Summit, where His Highness made a keynote address.
“It is once more an honour to welcome His Highness the Aga Khan to Canada. Our country has a deep and longstanding partnership with the Imamat, as evidenced by his decision to establish the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. This partnership stems from our shared commitment to pluralism, civil society, human dignity, and peace and understanding.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper
“I encourage Canadians from coast to coast to coast as well as international visitors to tour these architectural marvels. I am certain that the Centre and Museum will help to promote spirituality and deepen religious and cultural understanding and respect in Canada.” – Prime Minister Stephen Harper