Karima Ramji/ Times Colonist
It was the year 2008. A few hundred people, including dignitaries such as the Honourable Beverly Oda, then Minister of International Cooperation, Khalil Z. Shariff, CEO of Aga Khan Foundation Canada and Naz Rayani, then serving as Chair of World Partnership Walk Victoria, had come together at the Victoria Conference Centre for the official launch of Bridges that Unite. This was an interactive exhibition highlighting our ability as a nation to bridge the gap between Canadians, who, generally speaking, enjoy a relatively good quality of life, and those living in extreme poverty in developing countries. I distinctly remember the first exhibit of this spectacular showing as I entered the exhibition hall: a circle of chairs. The chairs were arranged in that way to demonstrate Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s approach to tackling development – one of consultation with communities, where they sit with community leaders, all in a circle – where all are equal, where everyone is heard, and where a community comes together to effect change in their own societies.
The words of the Fourth Caliph of Islam, who was also the first Imam of the Shia Muslims, Hazrat Ali ibn Abu Talib came to mind: “No honour is like knowledge. No belief is like modesty and patience. No attainment is like humility. No power is like forbearance. And no support is more reliable than consultation”. (His Highness the Aga Khan quoted this in his speech at the Tutzing Evangelical Academy, Germany, May 20, 2006 https://www.akdn.org/speech/his-highness-aga-khan/upon-receiving-tolerance-award-tutzing-evangelical-academy).
The Victoria World Partnership Walk takes place on Sunday, May 26, 2019 at the University ofVictoria near the Petch Fountain