“The Aga Khan is a wise practitioner of this brand of diplomacy [of sharing knowledge across borders and disciplines]. He appreciates that the success of our increasingly interdependent world is based on people of many faiths, cultures and values expressing tolerance, openness and understanding towards others. The depth of His Highness’ commitment to diplomacy and pluralism is profound. I know this from personal experience. We first met at another official opening, 36 years ago, in Karachi, Pakistan.” — David Johnston, Canada’s Governor General from 2010 – 2017.

gg02.jpgHis Highness the Aga Khan is seen being welcomed at Rideau Hall on October 7, 2010, by 28th Governor General of Canada, His Excellency Right Honourable David Johnston, during the 49th Ismaili Imam’s visit to Ottawa on the occasion of the inaugural board meeting of the Global Centre for Pluralism. Photographer: Sgt. Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall.

Compiled by Malik Merchant

Canada’s third longest-serving Governor General, the Rt. Hon. David Johnston, said goodbye to the office he had called home and cherished for seven years during a farewell ceremony on Thursday, September 28, 2017, in Parliament’s Hall of Honour. He assumed the role as Canada’s 28th Governor General in 2010. He was succeeded on October 2, 2017, by former astronaut Julie Payette.

When he became the Governor General, Mr. Johnston had chosen “Contemplare Meliora” (“To Envisage a Better World”) as his motto and announced that the three pillars of his mandate would be strengthening learning and innovation, encouraging philanthropy and volunteerism and supporting family and children. During his inauguration address he said, “We are a smart and caring nation. A nation where all Canadians can grow their talents to the maximum. A nation where all Canadians can succeed and contribute.… There is much work to be done to fully achieve our vision.”

GG05-2017-0355-018The outgoing Governor General, David Johnston, speaking at a farewell reception on September 28, 2017, where he and his wife were thanked by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for their years of service. Photo: Sgt. Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall.

“Serving as Governor General is a responsibility I have cherished for the past seven years,” he said during his farewell remarks. During his tenure as the Queen’s representative he led more than 50 missions to countries all over the world, making him the most travelled governor-general in Canadian history. He and his wife Sharon hosted some five dozen foreign dignitaries on state, royal and working visits. He delivered more than 1,400 speeches and awarded tens of thousands of honours, medals and special commemorations. The grounds of Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s residence, became a welcoming place for thousands of Canadians and tourists, with stimulating activities that catered to all age groups.

gg04A traditional custom around Canada Day, July 1, is the launch of Storytime at Rideau Hall, the residence of the Governor General of Canada, which is located just across from the Prime Minister’s home on Sussex Drive in Ottawa. In the photo, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General from October 1, 2010 – October 2, 2017, and his wife are seen launching the 2013 version of  Storytime  in the beautiful tent room inside Rideau Hall. More than 210 people attended the launch, which was held indoors because of rainy weather. His Excellency read “Cats’ Night Out” by Caroline Stutson, writer of picture books for children. Photograph: Cpl Roxanne Shewchuk, Rideau Hall.

GG02-2017-0364-035Ms. Julie Payett, former Canadian astronaut who flew on 2 space missions to the International Space Station on Shuttles Discovery and Endeavour , succeeds David Johnston as the 29th Governor General of Canada during the installation ceremony held on October 2, 2017 at the Senate Chamber in the Parliament Building. Photo: MCpl Vincent Carbonneau, Rideau Hall.

Fall colours at Rideau HallGorgeous autumn foliage at the grounds of Rideau Hall. This photo was taken on October 25, 2017, by which time the trees would be bare of leaves. Warm temperatures during the month delayed the arrival of fall colours by several days. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Before rising to the position of Canada’s Governor General, Mr Johnston studied at Harvard, Cambridge University, England, and Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, and went on to become the dean of the law school at the University of Western Ontario at the age of 31. In 1979, he went to McGill University and served as its principal for several years before taking up the position of the president at the University of Waterloo, Canada.

He was appointed to the position of the Governor General by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and made a seamless transition in dealing with the Liberal government head by Justin Trudeau. He treated each Prime Minister with the same respect.

The Aga Khan and David Johnston

A few days after he was sworn in as the Governor General on October 1, 2010, Mr. David Johnston, welcomed His Highness the Aga Khan to Rideau Hall on October 7. In the spring of 2017, the Governor General and the Ismaili Imam inaugurated the Global Centre for Pluralism on Sussex Drive in Ottawa. Some 34 years earlier on November 1, 1983, McGill University granted His Highness the Honorary Degree of Laws. Mr. Johnston as the Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University, made introductory remarks for  the Aga Khan.

November 1, 1983: Aga Khan Conferred with Honorary Degree of Laws by McGill University, Montreal

“The Aga Khan’s personal position is unique in the world today. He is the spiritual leader of a community which is concentrated in the developing countries, but is also present in the West. He is concerned as well, in the Islamic tradition, with the material well-being of his people and in this sense directs an increasing number of philanthropic and development organizations whose activities contribute to the progress of the many nations where the Ismailis live. In particular, it is his aim that the Ismailis who settle in the developed world will be able to contribute towards the progress of that world.

aga-khan-mcgill-19831November 1, 1983: His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Shia Ismaili Imam, with McGill University’s Chancellor Conrad Hernington at the University’s Convocation held at Place des Arts in Montreal, PQ, Canada.

“This man is a bridge between North and South, East and West. His leadership is beyond politics, beyond race, beyond religion. In a world torn by division, hostility, war and fear of nuclear holocaust, he is a shining beacon of inspiration and of hard-headed accomplishment in improving the lot of humankind, in elevating the quality of civilized life and in uplifting all peoples of the world to cherish the brotherhood of man.

“Mr. Chancellor, I present to you Prince Aga Khan, spiritual leader, philanthropist and humanitarian.” — Principal and Vice Chancellor of McGill University, David L. Johnston, November 1, 1983.

October 7, 2010: Aga Khan received at Rideau Hall, Ottawa

jwm_6189His Highness the Aga Khan is greeted by His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston at Rideau Hall, during his visit to Ottawa, on October 7, 2010  for the inaugural board meeting for the Global Centre for Pluralism. Photo: John W. MacDonald, Ottawa. Copyright.

jwm_6194His Highness the Aga Khan in a cheerful mood as he visits Canada’s 28th Governor General, His Excellency David Johnston on October 7, 2010. Photo: John W. MacDonald, Ottawa. Copyright. 

gg01His Highness the Aga Khan and Governor General David Johnston in a conversation at Rideau Hall on October 7th, 2010. Photo: Sgt. Serge Gouin, Rideau Hall.

May 16, 2017: Aga Khan and David Johnston inaugurate the Global Centre for Pluralism, Ottawa

Aga Khan, GG Johnston, Global Ctr For Pluralism, © Jean-Marc Carisse 2017 0516 _0564 webHis Highness the Aga Khan and His Excellency David Johnston joke as they prepare to unveil the commemorative plaque of the official opening of the International Headquarters of the Global Centre for Pluralism. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

“This centre truly is a beacon of internationalism and humanism. It shines brightly.

“Thank you all, and a special thank you to His Highness the Aga Khan for showing such dedication to pluralism and to strengthening Canada’s commitment to and leadership of this critically important issue. Your Highness, establishing this centre in our capital city is a wonderful gift to Canada.

“I often speak of the importance of knowledge diplomacy in our world, which I define as the process by which distinct peoples and cultures improve lives by sharing knowledge across borders and disciplines.

“The Aga Khan is a wise practitioner of this brand of diplomacy. He appreciates that the success of our increasingly interdependent world is based on people of many faiths, cultures and values expressing tolerance, openness and understanding towards others.

“The depth of His Highness’ commitment to diplomacy and pluralism is profound. I know this from personal experience. We first met at another official opening, 36 years ago, in Karachi, Pakistan. The details may differ but the underlying theme is the same: diverse peoples working together to improve lives.

speech excerpts continue after photo

AgaKhan&GG,photoJean-MarcCarisse20170517_0585

His Highness the Aga Khan and the Governor General, the Right Honourable David Johnston, leave the stage after the completion of the ceremonies marking the official opening of  Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa on May 16, 2017. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

“Back in those days, I was serving as principal of McGill, and I had the privilege of being present at the birth of a wonderful partnership between the Aga Khan University and a number of North American universities, including McGill.

“This partnership saw renowned epidemiologist Walter Spitzer and his team working closely with their Pakistani counterparts to share McGill’s lessons learned in establishing a successful community medicine model.

“Thanks to this collaboration, the new Aga Khan University Hospital was able to build on McGill’s experience in deploying public health services in the community.

“I was and remain so impressed by the boldness of that initiative. The goal was ambitious: bring the best of Western medicine to a country with distinct customs and traditions.

“This goal was only achieved by showing a great deal of cultural sensitivity. In essence, this is the challenge of pluralism.” — David Johnston, May 16, 2017.

_MV16044The Aga Khan and David Johnston shake hands after they unveil the commemorative plaque to officially open the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.

Date posted: October 27, 2017.

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Primary compilation sources:

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