The sense of connection, the sense of service, the deep values that fold into every action of this [Ismaili] community is, I think, a testament to both the success of this country and those upon whom this success rests….Often when I see members of the Ismaili community thanking me and thanking my father specifically, and I always have to turn it around and say no, no, no, thank you. Thank you for being the embodiment of the vision that my father and so many others had — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ismaili Centre, Toronto, March 21, 2018, see complete speech below.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Ismaili Centre on Navroz, 21 March 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau engages with a group of Ismaili children during his visit to the Ismaili Centre on March 21, 2018 on the occasion of Navroz. Looking on is the Vice President of the Ismaili Council for Canada, Karima Karmali. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant

The Ismaili Centre in Toronto hosted the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, for Navroz celebrations. The centre was alight with activities by children as well as special exhibits related to the festival of Navroz. The Prime Minister spent several minutes with children at their respective tables, learning about their special Navroz projects and greeting the children Navroz Mubarak. The Prime Minister was accompanied by Malik Talib, the President of the Aga Khan Council for Canada, and other Ismaili leaders.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Ismaili Centre on Navroz, March 21, 2018

Prime Minister Trudeau with Ismaili leaders (on screen) at the Haftseen table that was decorated with an array of items symbolizing their importance during the festival of Navroz. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Haft Seen at the Ismaili Centre during Prime Minister Trudeau's visit.

An explanation of the items displayed on the Haftseen table shown below. The special exhibit was set up at the Toronto Ismaili Centre on the occasion of Navroz, March 21, 2018. Prime Minister Trudeau took an immense interest in the exhibit. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Haftseen table exhibit at the Ismaili Centre Toronto on the occasion of Navroz, March 21, 2018

The magnificent Haftseen table set up for Navroz March 21, 2018 at the Toronto Ismaili Centre. See previous image for an explanation of some of the objects that are displayed. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Ismaili artist Akim

Khorog, Badakhshan, Ismaili artist Akim beside his work depicting the celebration of Navroz. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Painting by Akim

Khorog Ismaili artist Akim’s painting on display at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, on Navroz, March 21, 2018. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Ismaili Centre Navroz March 21, 2018

An Ismaili from Khorog, Badakhshan, performing a Navroz themed dance at the Ismaili Centre in Toronto on March 21, 2018, in the presence of Prime Minister Trudeau. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

In his speech President Talib announced a major milestone that participants of the community had accomplished through the Ismaili Civic 150 initiative of improving the quality of life of all Canadians during Canada’s 150th anniversary as well as the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan.

Ismaili Civic 150

Happy Ismaili Civic 150 volunteers in front of a poster highlighting the goal of the initiative undertaken by the Ismaili community across Canada to mark Canada’s 150th birthday and the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant.

Malik Talib addressing the Navroz celebration greeting

Malik Talib, the President of the Aga Khan Council for Canada, addressing the Navroz celebrations held on March 21, 2018 at the Ismaili Centre in Toronto, in the presence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant

“Our community’s one million hours of service is a demonstration of Ismaili Muslims’ enduring commitment to Canada,” said President Talib. He went on to add, “In communities across the country, Ismailis volunteered as mentors and coaches to build the next generation’s skills. Ismailis also delivered employment and settlement support services to new Canadians, provided care for the elderly, supported anti-poverty initiatives, and maintained natural and public spaces. Volunteerism and service to the broader community are both central to Ismaili and Canadian values, and the Ismaili CIVIC 150 initiative is a reflection of that.” Talib happily noted that the community had surpassed its original goal, and as of March 21, 2018 had volunteered a total of 1,127,549 hours of service across the country.

Prime Minister Trudeau with Ismaili children

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau engages with Ismaili children during his visit to the Ismaili Centre on March 21, 2018 on the occasion of Navroz. Photo: Barakah/Malik Merchant

Both President Talib and Prime Minister Trudea conveyed their heartfelt Navroz Mubarak greetings to Canadian Ismailis. The Prime Minister was to later drop-in at Parsian Fine Foods located on Younge Street. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Navroz remarks at the Ismaili Centre

(Video, followed by transcript)

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Transcript of remarks made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto on the occasion of Navroz, March 21, 2018

Thank you. Thank you my friends. Navroz Mubarak. Hello everyone, and thank you for that incredibly warm welcome. I want to begin by thanking Malik Talib, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada, for his invitation, for his kind words. I want to thank my colleagues Arif Virani, Alli Al Hasi, Yasmin Ratansi, who are here with me today, for all the incredible work they do in their communities and across the country.

And I want to thank all of you for being here today. This is always a wonderful moment for me to come to this beautiful centre to see friends, old and new, and to celebrate a community that, for me, represents some of the very best of Canada. The sense of connection, the sense of service, the deep values that fold into every action of this community is, I think, a testament to both the success of this country and those upon whom this success rests. Often when I see members of the Ismaili community, they start by, as Arif did, thanking me and thanking my father specifically, and I always have to turn it around and say no, no, no, thank you. Thank you for being the embodiment of the vision that my father and so many others had. Thank you for the incredible….

(Applause)

Thank you for showing not just Canadians, but the world, with and through your success and your devotion, both to your own identities but also to this shared identity we build as Canadians, what it is to be open and to prosper through being welcoming and engaging with the world and not closing oneself off. You are an extraordinary example of the very best of Canada, and every day I thank you for it.

(Applause)

And I think there is no better example of that than, as Malik pointed out, the over one million hours of community and volunteer service to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary that this community accomplished — it is an extraordinary achievement and a perfect example of the commitment that all you, but all of us should have every day to contributing to the community, to the country that surrounds us. It is a beautiful testament to the dedication to this country and to all its citizens.

It’s quite fitting we celebrate Navroz here, as the Ismaili community is known around the world for its commitment to pluralism. Tens of thousands of people see this symbol of diversity off the Don Valley Parkway every day. Navroz is a chance for all Canadians to honour the many communities that have observed this tradition for generations and the many contributions you have all made to Canada. This event is a testimony to the diversity that makes Canada stronger and Canadians better.

So thank you for gathering here today. I’ve been giving some thought to the idea of Navroz, which marks the start of the New Year and the beginning of spring. The idea of new beginnings is central to Navroz.

How can we create and take advantage of opportunities throughout the new year? How can we maintain hope? How can we remain optimistic in the face of adversity? How can we foster openness and understanding, not just today but every day? While there may be … more than one answer to these questions, they give us pause to reflect on the past year. And this reflection may allow us to move forward as we welcome a new year.

This led me to think back on a meeting I had just a few weeks ago with the Afghan Girls Robotics Team. By the time they arrived in Canada, these incredibly smart and driven young women had already been awarded the top prize at Robotics competitions around the world, gaining international recognition for their accomplishments in STEM. They spoke of their successes with pride and shared their plans for the future with optimism and hope. They spoke of their aspirations, not only for themselves, but also for their community, for Afghanistan, and for other women in their field.

(Applause)

I am sharing their stories with you today because the path to success was far from easy for these young women. But despite the obstacles, they have remained optimistic, strong and full of hope. Brilliant, kind and proud.

I mention that Afghan Girls Robotics Team because in a way they embody the spirit of Navroz. These twelve young women were beyond ready for the next chapter of their journey here in Canada and ever so eager for new beginnings. And as it so happens, we met on the last day of February, on the eve of this month of renewal. Now, I know we can’t all claim to be leaders in robotics, but do not let their extraordinary circumstances and abilities distract you from the more familiar elements of their story.

For generations, people have come to Canada to realize their dreams. Some faced impossible odds for a chance to build a better life for themselves, while others made considerable sacrifices to ensure the success of their children and grandchildren. As we mark Navroz today in the Ismaili Centre, I want to recognize that everyone in this room can relate to these stories.

Take the Ismaili community, for example, many of whom were welcomed in Canada in 1972, after being forcibly expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin. This is a community like so many others that overcame significant obstacles, and of course its members are leaders in every profession across the country today.

Indeed, the story of hope and hard work is one that Canadians from all backgrounds can relate to. One that lives on in our communities and hopefully transcends our borders.

While Navroz is a time of celebration and new beginnings, it also reminds us of our privilege during this time of change. As Canadians, we are fortunate to live in a country where our rights are enshrined in the Constitution, where our freedoms are entrenched in laws. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures that all Canadians can speak their mind, practice their faith, and stand up for what they believe in. Because of the Charter, every Canadian is entitled to a new beginning.

I want to end by sharing with you the wise words of the Persian poet, Hafez, which I believe capture the spirit of this occasion.

“Spring and all its flowers now joyously break their vow of silence. It is time for celebration, not for lying low.”

Once again, thank you for having me here today to join in this celebration. To all those who have gathered around the Haft-Seen table this week and are gathering in Jamat Kalmas (ph?) this evening. I wish you all peace, health, happiness, and prosperity in the New Year.

Navroz Mubarak. May peace and blessings be upon you.

(Applause)

Credit for video and transcript: https://pm.gc.ca/eng/video/2018/03/23/prime-minister-trudeau-delivers-remarks-navroz-ismaili-centre-toronto.

Date posted: March 21, 2018.
Last updated: March 27, 2018 (video and transcript of Prime Minister’s remarks).

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