Tributes to His Highness the Aga Khan by the Canadian Members of Parliament and Senate

The Federal Ismaili MP Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Ontario) has shared with us 16 testimonials to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan. The tributes to Mawlana Hazar Imam are from both Houses of Parliament (House of Commons and the Senate) in Canada and from all parties. They have also each presented their own impressions on the work of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).  The MPs and senators represent different parts of the country. We thank Yasmin Ratansi and her legislative assistant Ashiff Waljee for sharing these wonderful tributes with readers of Barakah.

Introduction to the collage of tributes by Yasmin Ratansi


 Tributes to His Highness the Aga Khan by Members of Parliament

MR. MATT JENEROUX, MP, Edmonton Riverbend, Alberta, CONSERVATIVE

I’ve personally seen the positive impact of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Through its extensive education programs, the network is helping thousands of people from underdeveloped countries receive an education, which helps reduce poverty for future generations. The AKDN has had a meaningful impact on the developing world and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to see some of its sites as a Parliamentarian. 


MR. MURRAY RANKIN, MP, Victoria, British Columbia, NDP


DR. ROBERT KITCHEN, MP, Souris — Moose Mountain, Saskatchewan, CONSERVATIVE

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) provides tremendous aid and assistance to multiple agencies throughout Pakistan and the world. Their emphasis on healthcare through nursing and medicine will provide a bright future in areas of the world that are severely under serviced. Improved health care leads to furthering education and progress in education will enhance their efforts.


MS. ALEXANDRA MENDÈS, MP, Brossard — Saint-Lambert, Quebec, LIBERAL


In the past two-and-half years, I have had the good fortune to travel quite extensively through Commonwealth countries. These trips have allowed me to witness some of the incredible work the AKDN is doing – often in collaboration with Canadian NGOs, and even more often with Canadian Ismailis o the ground – to help developing nations attain their Social Development Goals. I have been particularly touched by the dedication of AKDN staff in early childhood nurturing, through education, adequate health care, and parental support. The emphasis that girls should have equal access to these services is a significant factor in ensuring that these communities will be empowered for success. I cannot over-stress the essential nature of the AKDN’s philosophy, in that for humankind to succeed, it must first learn to help itself! To His Highness, and all those He inspires to dedicate so much of their lives to helping the less fortunate, Thank You!




Mr. Speaker, last night I joined three Governors General, three Prime Ministers from both sides of this chamber, parliamentarians, and prominent Canadians from the Ismaili community to celebrate the diamond jubilee for a special honorary Canadian, the Aga Khan.

For 60 years, this spiritual leader of the Ismaili community around the world has stood for tolerance and support for the most vulnerable. As Prime Minister Harper once said in this chamber, his leadership inspires us to hope for a better world.

This is also an opportunity to talk about the tremendous contribution of the 300,000 Ismaili Canadians. They came to Canada with very little, but have given our country so much.

Today, I have the honour to thank the Aga Khan for 60 years of service and compassion around the world.

On behalf of the Conservative caucus and all parliamentarians, I want to thank the Aga Khan for 60 years of compassion, global leadership, and friendship with Canada.


 MS. YASMIN RATANSI, MP, Don Valley East, Ontario, LIBERAL


I rise today to congratulate His Highness the Aga Khan on his Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years of tireless leadership of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community globally. On May 1st, I had the pleasure of welcoming him to Ottawa as he celebrates his Diamond Jubilee.

His Highness promotes the shared values of pluralism, justice, compassion and of service to others. As PM Chretien stated “We may think it is the Canadian Way but it is in short supply in today’s world.   And therefore it makes the work of the Aga Khan indispensable”. His Highness keeps persevering, undiminished and undeterred. And we need his passion and his message more than ever.

Thank you, your Highness, for walking alongside Canada and helping us meet our SDG goals. Welcome to Canada, it is our great privilege to celebrate your Diamond Jubilee. Jubilee Mubarak.


MR. TERRY DIGUID, MP, Winnipeg South, Manitoba, LIBERAL


MR. RAMESH SANGHA, MP, Brampton Centre, Ontario, LIBERAL

My recent visit to Pakistan with the delegation of the Canadian Branch of the CPA was a great experience. I learned much about the invaluable work of the AKDN from the meetings and presentations by the institutional leaders.  The performance of the different AKDN programs in Pakistan is worth praising.

I was impressed by the scope of the AKDN programs in helping children and women with health and other needs, educating girls, reducing poverty and many others. There are some projects that stand out, like the Aga Khan University and Hospital, which are working well towards the betterment of the society at large and are worth appreciating.

I am convinced that joint ventures by the Canadian Government in collaboration with AKDN are a great step for the betterment of mankind and are a win-win situation for all involved. 


MS. DEBORAH SHULTE, MP, King — Vaughan, Ontario, LIBERAL

After having an opportunity to see the AKDN in action in Tanzania I was most impressed with the services provided. It was clear that they have become a key community resource and are providing excellent services. We toured a hospital providing vital health care to those who otherwise would not have access and we saw how they have developed a network of hotels providing high quality service to visitors while helping with the economic development in the areas where they are located. It is clear that AKDN is doing an excellent job in delivering services to some of the most challenged areas in the World. Canada can work closely with AKDN to encourage more gender equity in their economic development activities and provide more opportunities for women and youth employment.


MR. KERRY DIOTTE, MP, Edmonton Griesbach, Alberta, CONSERVATIVE

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MR. ARIF VIRANI, MP, Parkdale — High Park, Ontario, LIBERAL


Mr. Speaker, yesterday members of all parties welcomed His Highness the Aga Khan at Rideau Hall to celebrate his Diamond Jubilee after 60 years as the religious leader of 15 million Ismaili Muslims around the world.

The Aga Khan has had a strong relationship with Canada for six decades, beginning with Canada’s decision to accept Ismaili refugees, like me and my family, who were fleeing persecution from Idi Amin.

Canada subsequently forged a strong working relationship with the Aga Khan Development Network, which provides critical humanitarian assistance in developing countries. Most recently, we bestowed honorary citizenship on the Aga Khan to recognize his commitment to the Canadian values of pluralism and diversity.

As an Ismaili Canadian member of the House of Commons, I am very proud of the Aga Khan’s commitment to community service, as illustrated by Canada 150, when Ismaili Muslims gave this country over one million hours of volunteer service.

I thank His Highness for being an example to us all. On behalf of the Parliament of Canada, we all wish him “Diamond Jubilee Mubarak”.


Tributes to His Highness the Aga Khan by Members of the Senate

HON. SALMA ATAULLAHJAN, Senator, Ontario, CONSERVATIVE. Appointed to the Senate on the advice of Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative)

Honourable Senators, this week, Canada has the great privilege of welcoming His Highness the Aga Khan to our soil. We congratulate His Highness on the special occasion of his Diamond Jubilee, or 60 years of spiritual leadership of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community in Canada and around the world.

His Highness has been a long-time friend of Canada, and the relationship between the Imamat and Canada has spanned decades and is rooted in strongly shared values. The values of pluralism, of justice, of compassion for those less fortunate and of voluntary service to others are what bind us.

Indeed, His Highness was made an honorary citizen of Canada for his remarkable and lifelong dedication to the well-being of citizens around the world.

Today, we thank His Highness for walking alongside Canada in the search for a more just and compassionate world.


HON. PETER HARDER (Government Representative in the Senate), Senator, Ontario,  INDEPENDENT. Appointed to the Senate on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Liberal)

Honourable senators, I rise today to congratulate His Highness the Aga Khan on 60 years as the forty-ninth imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community and, as such, a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

I had the honour to first meet this extraordinary world leader on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee 35 years ago.

Today, I join with nearly 100,000 Canadians and 15 million Ismailis worldwide to recognize the contribution of the Aga Khan, who demonstrates how spiritual principles of peace and inclusion can manifest themselves in strong democratic institutions and in active policy-making and nation building.

I have learned much from my meetings with the Aga Khan: first, that global turmoil is less a result of a clash of civilizations than it is a clash of ignorance; and second, that no amount of isolationism can deny that globalism has made pluralism the new world order.

Pluralism is, in fact, a way of life in Canada. We have only to look at the recent warm welcome of newcomers from Syria, to the diversity on the streets of our cities and communities, to our commitment to right the wrongs of the past with respect to our colonial history.

We also know in Canada that pluralism is hard work. A society that embraces pluralism is no accident of history. It is a society that evolves through reason; it is a society that values education; it is a society where all sectors — government and civil society — share goals. It is a society that respects human rights.

If that sounds a little like the foundation of democracy to you, you are correct.

Today, pluralism and democracy are intrinsically linked, and those linkages are all the stronger through the work of the Aga Khan Development Network, which has a presence in countries around the world.

Canada, indeed Ottawa, also benefits from the presence of the Aga Khan’s Global Centre for Pluralism, which works around the world with governments, academia and civil society to foster the legislative and policy environments required for civil society effectiveness, democracy and pluralism.

While there are people who see pluralism as the problem, many are we who see it as the only answer to combating ignorance, intolerance and hate.

This is why I wish to congratulate His Highness the Aga Khan on 60 years of inspiration, hope and guidance toward a better and more pluralist world.


HON. MOBINA S.B. JAFFER, Senator, British Columbia, LIBERAL. Appointed to the Senate on the advice of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien (Liberal)

Honourable senators, I would first of all like to thank Senator Harder for his statement today and, more important, for his friendship with the Aga Khan and the Ismaili community. We always see you as one of us.

Thank you, Peter.

Honourable Senators, in 1958, as a young child, I saw His Highness the Aga Khan’s coronation in Kampala, Uganda. I was following my dad, Sherali Bandali Jaffer, as he organized the coronation.

Today, 60 years later, I rise to thank His Highness the Aga Khan for the tremendous sacrifices he has personally made to improve the lives of Ismaili Muslims and people all around the world. I humbly thank him for all his hard work.

As you know, senators, I have risen in this chamber on many occasions and have spoken about the positive impact His Highness has had on my life and the positive impact he has had on the lives of men, women and children around the world.

This week is a very special week for Ismaili Muslims in Canada. His Highness is gracing us with his physical presence to commemorate his Diamond Jubilee anniversary.

For more than three quarters of his life, His Highness has worked tirelessly to make this world a better place and improve the quality of life in less-developed regions of the world.

His Highness has also invested a lot in Canada. The Global Centre for Pluralism represents a unique partnership between the Ismaili Imamat and Canada, and was inspired by a shared commitment with Canada’s leadership to create a world where human differences are valued and diverse societies thrive. This commitment was shared by Prime Ministers Chrétien, Martin, Harper and Trudeau, all of whom contributed to the creation of this institution.

Honourable senators, this is a time of great celebration in our community. Later this week, tens of thousands of Ismailis in Calgary and Vancouver will gather to welcome His Highness. We will dance, we will eat biryani and samosas, and we will make memories that we will cherish forever.

While this visit is one that Ismailis across the country are anxiously awaiting, I would be remiss not to mention all of the work that went into making this visit possible.

First, I would like to thank the Government of Canada and Minister Bibeau for welcoming His Highness to Canada. I would also like to thank Presidents Eboo and Talib and their councils, and the Ismaili volunteers, who for weeks have been working day and night ironing out all the details for this visit. They have done an amazing job. This visit would not be possible without the hard work of the volunteers. Whether they are young volunteers, like my grandchildren Ayaan and Almeera, or elders in our community, this visit will bring together people of all ages and remind us of the importance of serving our communities.

Honourable Senators, I would like to conclude by sharing an excerpt of an article my good friend and mentor former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien published yesterday on His Highness’s work. He wrote:

. . . what makes each of us different does not need to be a source of conflict or envy or suspicion, but instead something to treasure and celebrate.

Honourable senators, like me, you may just think of these characteristics as “the Canadian way,” but they’re also in short supply in today’s world. That makes our mission as a country more important, and it makes the work of the Aga Khan indispensable.


HON. MARILOU MCPHEDRAN, Senator, Manitoba, INDEPENDENT SENATORS GROUP. Appointed to the Senare on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Liberal)


HON. DIANE GRIFFIN, Senator, INDEPENDENT SENATORS GROUP, Prince Edward Island. Appointed to the Senate on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Liberal)

My recent trip to Pakistan provided an eye-opener for me about the important work of the Aga Khan Development Network. It was a thrill to learn of its partnership with the Canadian Government and the positive impact on so many countries in areas including education and maternal health. Advances in both of these will tremendously improve the quality of life, help alleviate poverty and foster gender equity. Canada is fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a strong partner like the AKDN toward the goals that both embrace. 


HON. JEAN-GUY DAGENAIS, Senator, Quebec, CONSERVATIVE. Appointed to the Senate on the advice of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Conservative)


I had the opportunity to visit in 2017, the Aga Khan hospital facilities in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

This hospital was provided with equipment and professional personnel trained by leading medical specialists in palliative care.

The goal was to provide state-of-the-art end-of-life care for patients with cancer, AIDS or heart disease in this part of East Africa.

I have seen how the medical services offered are of a very high quality and are provided with humanism to the local population.

It is not only the sick people who benefit from this installation deployed by Aga Khan, but also the families who must accompany them at the end of their life.

I found this experience very  rewarding to me as the humanitarian side was present.

Date posted: May 14, 2018.
Last updated: May 15, 2018 (typo corrections).


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This website, Barakah, is a special project by and is dedicated to the textual and visual celebration of His Highness the Aga Khan as he celebrates his Diamond Jubilee or 60 years of Imamat.


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