Covid-19 update from Aga Khan Foundation Canada: 2020 Partnership Walk and visits to Delegation of Ismaili Imamat among programs impacted

Logo of the Aga Khan Foundation
The Aga Khan Foundation logo is based on the right hand, a universal symbol of skill, achievement and caring. It symbolizes the humanitarian and positive philosophy underlying the Foundation and its activities.

(The following message is reproduced from the website of Aga Khan Foundation Canada. Earlier this week we posted Support the work of the Aga Khan University at this critical time of the COVID-19 pandemic: Your HELP IS CRUCIAL and IS NEEDED. To contribute to COVID-19, please click on https://giving.aku.edu/. We wish our Canadian readers to note that their contributions to AKU COVID-19 fund will be channeled through Aga Khan Foundation Canada — Ed.)

By KHALIL SHARIFF
(Chief Executive Officer, Aga Khan Foundation Canada)

Khlail Shariff, CEO of Aga Khan Foundation Canada
Khalil Shariff. Photo: AKFC

March 25, 2020.

Dear friends,

As conditions around the world change rapidly during these unprecedented times, we wanted to share a brief update to keep you informed of how we are responding to COVID-19.

COVID-19 has now grown from an outbreak in one city to a pandemic of global proportions. It is unlikely any country will be untouched by its ripple effects. More than ever, it is clear how Canada’s future is intertwined with the rest of the world.

The health and safety of our supporters, volunteers, and staff are paramount to us. In Canada, we are following all recommendations of the Government of Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as well as the local public health authorities in the Canadian cities where we operate.

That means, effective last week:

1. All our Canadian colleagues are working from home.

2. We have come to the difficult decision to suspend this year’s World Partnership Walk and World Partnership Golf campaigns. We will have more information on alternate plans to share on these soon.

3. We have cancelled all tours of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat building in Ottawa until further notice.

Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in  Ottawa, Canada.
The offices of the Aga Khan Foundation Canada are located inside the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, pictured above. The building was inaugurated by Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, and the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, on December 6, 2008. Photo: Maki and Associates/Moriyama and Teshima Architects.

4. Our travelling exhibit, In a Heartbeat, is suspended until further notice.

5. We have postponed our International Youth Fellowship pre-departure training in Ottawa to begin at the end of July, with overseas placements beginning at the end of August. We will continue to monitor the situation in the coming weeks and months, and will adjust the program as required to ensure our fellows’ well-being.

6. All other in-person events have either been cancelled, rescheduled online, or postponed.

We have taken these steps to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. We are immensely fortunate in Canada to have such competent health leadership, and we encourage everyone to heed the advice of health authorities as best they can.

Healthcare facilities and workers around the world are at the frontlines of events like these. Canadian support over the past 40 years has strengthened health systems across Africa and Asia, and we remain hopeful these investments will mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the geographies where we work.

We also want to assure you that we remain committed to our countries and communities of operation during this crisis. The Aga Khan Development Network, of which we are a part, is mounting a robust response to address the many aspects of this pandemic. Now more than ever, it is important that our work of strengthening systems, institutions, and communities for times of fragility pushes forward.

We may all be working remotely for now, but we are still here for you. If you are already connected to a staff member, you can reach them by email. Otherwise, you send an email to info@akfc.ca, and we will direct your inquiry to the right person. If you have questions about your 2019 tax receipts, you can reach our Donor Services team directly at donorservices@akfc.ca or leave a voicemail at 613-237-2532 ext. 191.

In global crises like these, it is easy to dwell on what worries us. But I invite us all to step forward in support of our friends, relatives, and neighbours for whom this time may be especially trying. We can weather this better together.

We will reach out again as the situation and our plans to respond develop. Until then, we wish you and yours continued good health and spirits.

Sincerely,

Khalil Z. Shariff
Chief Executive Officer
Aga Khan Foundation Canada.

Date posted: March 28, 2020

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(IMPORTANT NOTE: Earlier this week we posted Support the work of the Aga Khan University at this critical time of the COVID-19 pandemic: Your HELP IS CRUCIAL and IS NEEDED. To contribute to COVID-19, please click on https://giving.aku.edu/. We wish our Canadian readers to note that their contributions for AKU COVID-19 fund will be channeled through Aga Khan Foundation Canada. — Ed.)

Support the work of the Aga Khan University at this critical time of the COVID-19 pandemic: Your HELP IS CRUCIAL and IS NEEDED

The Seal of the Aga Khan University
The Seal of the Aga Khan University

By RICHARD BROW
Chief Development Officer

The COVID-19 pandemic is having an enormous impact on individuals and families in our communities and around the world.

AKU [Aga Khan University] is on the front lines of the response to this unprecedented health challenge. Our dedicated physicians, nurses and other medical staff are working tirelessly to save lives.

You can support our efforts to secure specialised medical equipment, provide testing and life-saving care to the vulnerable through our Patient Welfare Programme, and address the needs of our physicians and healthcare personnel during this extraordinary time [Note: readers outside Pakistan have encountered problems in completing the form – please select the COVID-19 Fund over the Zakat Donation COVID-19 Fund option, and see if that works for you – Ed.].

The COVID-19 Fund would support the following: 

1. Providing world-class medical care, including for disadvantaged patients through our Patient Welfare Programme;

2. Securing specialised equipment including ventilators and personal protective gear for our staff;

3. Changes to our hospital and University facilities to expand our capacity to respond effectively to this emergency; 

4. Research by our infectious disease specialists, and others, that contributes to the global effort to deliver better diagnostics for COVID-19 and care for those infected;    

5. Support for our staff who are working exceedingly long hours, and need accommodation and other essential support.​

If you would like to make a donation, additional information may be found HERE.

You may also contact us directly at: resource.development@aku.edu

On behalf of all of us at AKU and the countless people we serve, thank you.

Date posted: March 23, 2020.

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Read the latest updates on the University’s action on the coronavirus.​ ​​

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few. In the past few days, we have published some excellent pieces on Navroz.

Passings: Nazeer Ladhani (1947-2020)

Nazeer Ladhani, AKDN, Aga Khan Foundation, University of Central Asia, Simerg, Passings
Nazeer Aziz Ladhani. Photo: Via The Globe and Mail, courtesy of the family.

Prepared by MALIK MERCHANT
(Publisher-Editor Simerg, Barakah, and Simergphotos)

[Includes material from multiple sources; a new addendum to the obituary has been added on March 8, 2020, following a feedback from Nazir Kassamali of Edmonton, who joined Nazeer Ladhani’s team at the University of Central Asia (UCA). We thank Kassamali for his input, which shows the significance of Nazeer Ladhani’s contribution at UCA at a critical juncture of its development path. – Ed.]

Simerg has learnt with profound sadness the untimely death of Nazeer Aziz Ladhani at the age of 72, in Nairobi, Kenya. According to an extensive obituary dedicated to him in The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s most widely read and respected newspapers, Nazeer passed away in his sleep on February 19, 2020. Written by Ian Smillie and published under the title “International development agency CEO Nazeer Aziz Ladhani had a mischevious energy” (subscription may be required to read piece), the obituary is a tribute to the exceptional individual he was and the magnificent services he rendered to the Aga Khan Development Network and its numerous agencies in Canada, Asia and Africa.

Guy Pfeffermann, a long time friend of Nazeer, notes on the website of Global Business School Network (GBSN), that “I loved Nazeer. He was a gentle man, and one of the most learned I ever met on almost any subject. People loved to listen to him speak. In 2014 he sat on a panel of business school deans and other outstanding academics at the prestigious Online Education Berlin conference. He spoke last, and the participants were so enraptured by his Renaissance Man discourse that they just didn’t want to leave; the next group who had booked the room had to wait outside until, reluctantly, he let the audience go.”

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan discusses architectural plans with Firoz Rasul, President of the Aga Khan University (AKU), Ambassador Saidullah Khan Dehlavi, Chairman of the AKU Board of Trustees, Trevor Andrews, Managing Director of Planning Systems Services Limited, and Nazeer Ladhani (2nd from right), Project Director of the AKU Graduate School of Media and Communications. Photo: AKDN / Ejaz Karmali.

Nazeer Ladhani’s Contribution to the Ismaili Imamat

Nazeer Ladhani worked in many senior roles with the Aga Khan Development Network and its agencies. He was the Project Director for Graduate Professional Education for Aga Khan University in East Africa, which includes the Graduate School of Media and Communications (see photo, above). He also served as the Director General of the University of Central Asia, a unique, internationally chartered higher university focused on the development of mountain societies, with purpose-built world class residential campuses in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, and Khorog, Tajikistan and (future) Tekeli in Kazakhstan. Nazeer will be fondly remembered in Canada as the founding Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC), which he led from start-up to a premier private international development agency in Canada. While at AKFC, Ladhani led efforts to establish the Global Centre for Pluralism in Canada.

Nazeer was born on August 20, 1947 in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) to a farming family. He went on to earn an agricultural diploma in animal husbandry from the famous Egerton University in Kenya. He then completed a series of designated accounting certificate programs, and also pursued an Executive Program at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He later earned an MBA from INSEAD, the prestigious business school at Fontainebleau, just outside Paris.

Nazeer leaves behind his wife, Gulabi; daughters, Noor Niyar and Aliya Begum Ladhani; sisters, Zinat Remtulla and Naseem Fazal; and brother, Mushtaq Ladhani. We convey our deep sympathy and condolences to them as well as the entire Ladhani family and to all his colleagues, friends and acquaintances around the world.

Through the services he rendered to Imamat institutions for four decades, Nazir has impacted the lives of millions of people around the world, making a positive difference in their livelihood, well-being and growth. His work will also ensure sustainable growth in communities impacted by the work of the Aga Khan Development Network and Aga Khan Foundation Canada, which holds the annual World Partnership Walk in numerous cities across Canada.

We pray that Nazeer’s soul may rest in eternal peace.

Addendum to Nazeer Ladhani’s Obituary

[Following our publication of Nazeer Ladhani’s obituary, above, we received the following details from Edmonton’s Nazir Kassamali who joined Nazeer Ladhani’s University of Central Asia (UCA) management team as the Director of Finance and Administration. We are pleased to incorporate Kassamali’s feedback into this post, as it reflects Nazeer Ladhani’s outstanding accomplishments at the UCA during the short time he stayed there. He was indeed on an important mission and performed his duties admirably! – Ed.]

By NAZIR KASSAMALI

First of all, I pay my deep respects to Nazeer Ladhani and convey my deep condolences to his family on his recent passing, and pray for the eternal peace of his soul.

I wish to add further to the obituary that has been presented here with respect to his short stint at the UCA whose Administrative Office was in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

During his assignment as the Director General of the University of Central Asia, a unique, internationally chartered higher university focused on the development of mountain societies, with purpose-built world class residential campuses in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, and Khorog, Tajikistan and (future) Tekeli in Kazakhstan, Nazeer accomplished significant progress which is explained below.

In a meeting in New York, discussion came up about the slow progress of the of University subsequent to the signing of the Agreement with the respective governments, namely, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. There were significant issues that were not being addressed to meet the vision of the newly created University. Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, asked Nazeer Ladhani to takeover the management of the University and address the issues and provide solutions so that the three campuses and core curricula are built on a solid foundation.

Under Nazeer’s leadership and guidance, the UCA team achieved:

• Protocols following the agreements were approved and ratified by the acts of Parliaments of the three countries. This gave recognition equivalent to that of International NGOs such as United Nations which included Diplomatic status of the University, diplomatic license plates for the vehicles, ease of movements of the University employees across the three campuses and trilateral work permits. Government departments and senior employees were educated of the status of the University of Central Asia. This recognition of the UCA status made it easier to work with the Government officials of the three countries.
• Three Schools of Continuing Education and vocational training (SPCE) were built and opened. Full enrollments were accepted across the three campuses during Nazeer’s tenure and first cohorts graduated during the Golden Jubilee of Mawlana Hazar Imam;
• Administrative and support staff were hired and trained;
• Financial, Human Resources and Campus enrollment Systems, business processes and procedures were implemented;
• Campus designs of the three Campuses were completed with the Japanese Architects, Arata Sasaki;
• Cadastral surveying of the University lands allocated by the three governments were completed and delivered;
• For Khorog Campus in Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO), Tajikistan, alternative land and compensations were allocated to the families who were residing inside the University boundary. This took a lot of persuasion and working with the local leaders and the three layers of Governments;
• Vocational schools to train brick layers, plasterers, carpenters and painters were established with the grant from US Aid which Nazeer was instrumental in acquiring; and
• Incorporation of the Aga Khan Humanities Programme into the UCA’s curriculum.

It takes over three to four decades for a University to achieve the Global standards of recognition and Nazeer Ladhani made an outstanding contribution to give it a solid foundation.

Date posted: March 5, 2020.
Last updated: March 8, 2020 (addendum to obituary).

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We invite you to submit your condolences, memories and tributes to Nazeer Ladhani by completing the feedback form below. If form does not show, please click on LEAVE A COMMENT. Alternatively, you may submit your comment for publication to simerg@aol.com; Subject: Nazeer Ladhani.

Simerg offers to all its Ismaili readers around the world an opportunity to submit memorials to honour and celebrate the lives of beloved members of their families who have physically departed this world. Please click Passings for more information.

@Barakah: Two fantastic posts of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Tatarstan

Aga Khan tours Kazan Kremlin
His Highness the Aga Khan at Kazan Kremlin. Please click for complete coverage of visit to Tatarstan.

A note from Publisher/Editor Malik Merchant

Simerg’s sister website Barakah is dedicated to Mawlana Hazar Imam — His Highness the Aga Khan — members of his family, and the Ismaili Imamat. It currently contains more than 170 interesting visual and textual pieces on the subject. There are 2 posts you should see about his visit to Tatarstan last week. Please click on:

Aga Khan at Award Ceremony Kazan, Tatarstan
His Highness the Aga Khan at the Award Ceremony. Please click for thematic speech, 5 high quality videos and wonderful photos

We also take this oppotunity to invite you to visit Barakah’s Facebook Page, as well as join our Facebook group Simerg/Barakah: All Things Ismaili + His Highness the Aga Khan.

Date posted: September 12, 2019.
Last updated: September 17, 2019.

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Rt. Hon. Adrienne Clarkson Announces New Secretary General for the Global Centre for Pluralism

Meredith Preston McGhie to Assume Role

A view of the Global Centre for Pluralism from Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau, on the North side of the Ottawa River. The Centre sits on Sussex Drive alongside or close to other iconic buildings and monuments in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. Photo: © Simerg/Nurin and Malik Merchant.

By THE GLOBAL CENTRE FOR PLURALISM
(Press Release, August 1, 2019)

The Board of Directors of the Global Centre for Pluralism is pleased to confirm that Meredith Preston McGhie will take over as Secretary General, replacing John McNee on his retirement from the position. She will assume her new role on October 1st.

In announcing the selection, The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Chair of the Search Committee, cited Ms. Preston McGhie’s frontline negotiating efforts towards building peace and good governance in diverse societies.

Meredith Preston McGhie. Photo: Ilja C. Hendel via Global Centre for Pluralism

“Meredith stood out for the depth of her lived experience in parts of the world where conflict and exclusions are widespread,” said Madame Clarkson. “Her understanding of the value of pluralism is grounded in this extensive practical experience. After searching the world for a leader to continue the Centre’s vital work, I am delighted we convinced this outstanding Canadian to come home.”

His Highness the Aga Khan warmly greets former Governor General, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, after she gave her closing remarks at the opening ceremony of the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa on May 16, 2017. The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, is on the Board of Directors of the Global Centre and Chair of the Search Committee. Photo: © Jean-Marc Carisse.

Ms. Preston McGhie studied military and international history at the University of British Columbia before pursuing graduate studies in global security in the United Kingdom. She has since devoted more than 20 years to addressing conflict and instability in Africa and Asia in some of the most troubled situations. From working with the Naga in Northeast India and indigenous communities on the Thai-Myanmar border, to supporting UN efforts in Kosovo, Northern Iraq and several African countries, her work has straddled frontline negotiation, policy and diplomacy.

Most recently, as Africa Regional Director with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, she oversaw the HD Centre’s complex mediation and dialogue efforts in Nigeria, the Gambia, Kenya, Mozambique, Sudan, Somalia and South Sudan, among other places. In the Kenyan National Dialogue and Reconciliation Process in 2007-08, she advised a panel of eminent Africans led by the late Kofi Annan. She has contributed annually to the Oslo Forum, a gathering of the world’s leading experts and policymakers in conflict resolution, and teaches mediation practice internationally.

His Highness the Aga Khan, His Excellency, the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General for Canada, and John McNee, whose retirement as the Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism has just been announced, share some light moments outside the main entrance of the building opened on Tuesday, May 16, 2017. Photo: © AKDN/The Ismaili.

Ms. Preston McGhie replaces John McNee, who has served as the Centre’s first Secretary General since 2011, and who presided over the restoration of 330 Sussex Drive, an Ottawa heritage landmark, as the Centre’s global headquarters.

“The Centre’s Directors look forward to working closely with Meredith to advance our agenda of building more peaceful and inclusive societies,” said Madame Clarkson. “At the same time, we are enormously grateful to her predecessor. John quite literally put the Centre on the map, and leaves a strong foundation for its future.”

Date posted: August 1, 2019.

[Before leaving this page, please take a moment to visit Simerg’s Table of Contents  for links to a vast and rich collection of articles published on this blog as well as its two sister blogs Barakah and Simergphotos.]

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On the Aga Khan: “Not all Heroes Wear Capes”; “I was Serving no Ordinary Man”; “Virtual Head of States”; and “Modern Personification of Historical Islamic Rationalism, Charity and Peace”

Salgirah Mubarak

Photo via Munira Karamkhudoeva of Khorog, Badakhshan.

Andrew Kosorok on the Aga Khan“The Prophet Muhammad taught: ‘The doors of goodness are many…..enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms — all these are charity prescribed for you. Your smile for your brother is charity’. And the Aga Khan has accepted this hadith as a personal job description”….READ MORE BY ANDREW KOSOROK

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Michael Curtis on the Aga Khan“It was an unforgettable scene and took place in one of the state rooms of Government House where the Aga Khan was guest of the Colonial Governor at that time. The Ismaili leaders were seated, as is their custom, cross-legged in a semi-circle around their young Imam and the two factions elaborated their different points of view. To a non-Muslim the arguments were difficult to follow, but it was clear to me that a strong difference of opinion existed and that the Aga Khan would be called upon to resolve a ticklish point of theological doctrine.” …..READ MORE BY LATE MICHAEL CURTIS

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Nizar Motani on the Aga Khan“Clearly, if any person or entity can restore Islam to its rightful place, it would be AKDN under the enlightened, visionary, and revolutionary, global leadership of the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and his successors. The Aga Khan has been called a “Prince without a Princedom,” yet he has been treated by dozens of nations as a “visiting head of state” with his red and green Imamat flag flying on his car and beside the host countries’ flags at official functions.” ….READ MORE BY NIZAR MOTANI

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Michael Hamilton Morgan on the Aga Khan“In this vast tapestry of the interaction of Muslims with each other, and with other cultures and faiths, there is one tradition that unfailingly continues the progressive heritage of classical Islam — profoundly intellectual, open, tolerant, pacific — and in particular one leader who has made it especially attuned to the many difficulties of the world today. That would be Ismailism and its revered Imam, the current Aga Khan IV” ….READ MORE BY MICHAEL HAMILTON MORGAN

Date posted: December 13, 2018.

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Aga Khan arrives, a photo tour of the Global Centre for Pluralism and more

Aga Khan Ottawa Arrival

Aga Khan arrival 2017-11-14-moez_visram_moe2382Mawlana Hazar Imam is received at Ottawa International Airport by the Aga Khan Development Network Representative for Canada, Mahmood Eboo (left), the President of the Aga Khan Council for Canada, Malik Talib, centre with Hazar Imam, and Karima Karmali, the Council’s Vice President. Photo: Moez Visram/The Ismaili.

By ABDULMALIK MERCHANT

His Highness the Aga Khan arrived in Ottawa Tuesday, November 14, to begin his week long trip to Canada during which he will meet with his Ismaili followers in Eastern Canada for religious meetings in Toronto and Montreal.

He will however first preside over the inaugural Pluralism Award ceremony at the iconic Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat Building located on Sussex Drive. Readers will be able to watch the ceremony live on Wednesday, November 15, starting at 6 P.M. EST.

A short photographic tour of the Global Centre for Pluralism

His Highness the Aga Khan and His Excellency David Johnston in a jovial mood joke as they unveil the commemorative plaque of the official opening of the International Headquarters of the Global Centre for Pluralism. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse. Copyright.Flashback: The unveiling of the plaque by His Highness the Aga Khan and the former Governor General of Canada, David Johnston, during the inauguration ceremony of the building on May 16, 2017. The plaque is now embedded in the right wall, just inside the main entrance to the building. Photo: Jean-Marc Carisse.

In preparation for the press conference that was held yesterday (Tuesday, November 14), and this evening’s award ceremony, I decided to visit the Global Centre for Pluralism on Saturday, November 11, the last day the interior of the building was open for viewing by the public (it will reopen again next spring).

A short video presentation highlighting the purpose of the Global Centre for Pluralism. Above Princess Zahra Aga Khan. Note: Light streak is camera reflection. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

An immense transformation has taken place, while still preserving the historic features of the building. The Aga Khan during the official opening of the building on May 16, 2017, noted: “The architects, designers, engineers and so many others who have rehabilitated this wonderful Tudor Gothic building have taken enormous care to respect its distinctive historic character.”

A plaque highlighting the Global Centres connection to the Ottawa River, see following two photos. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

One of the major features that you are drawn to as you enter the building and climb its few steps is the large window that overlooks the Ottawa River. And the Aga Khan provided an insight on the topic too. In the same speech, he said:

“When I first visited this site, I went across the Ottawa River, to see things from the opposite side. From that perspective, I noticed that many buildings on the Ontario side had, over the years, turned their backs to the river. But as we began to plan, another possibility became evident. It seemed increasingly significant to open the site to the water.” This is precisely what the building offers every day to each person who walks in, perhaps with the thought: “Let me see the Ottawa River first.”

Visitors at the Global Centre on Saturday, November 11, 2017. One, far right end, is standing a few metres from the full-height window, and pointing to the Ottawa River, see next photo. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

A beautiful view of the Ottawa River from the Global Centre’s full height window.See photo of plaque, above. Photo: Barakah/Simerg.

pb112064-global-centre-plaque.jpgGlobal Centre for Pluralism was designated as one of 10 CONFEDERATION PAVILIONS, for 2017, the 150th anniversary of Canada. This plaque stands outside the building on Sussex Drive. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

The Global Centre for Pluralism was designated as one of the 10 Confederation Pavilions in the National Capital Region for the year 2017. The Commission identified buildings that had been dormant and then brought back to life. A passport booklet highlighting all  the 10 buildings has been published, as shown in the next image. It encourages everyone to visit the buildings and experience them for their architectural heritage.

Bilingual front cover of the passport booklet, with an insert (English shown) on the Global Centre for Pluralism. Photo: Barakah/Simerg.

The Global Centre has been a National Historic Site since 1990, at which time it was the home of the Canadian War Museum. The PASSPORT booklet explains: “Today a $35 million investment from His Highness the Aga Khan has brought the building back to life as the new home of the Global Centre for Pluralism. This independent research and education centre, created in partnership with the Government of Canada, advances respect for diversity around the world. Become a pluralism champion; visit this heritage landmark, and explore the mission and work of the Centre.”

The historic Sir Arthur Doughty’s fireplace inside the Global Centre’s presentation room. See plaque, next photo, explaining the significance of the fireplace. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

Fireplace plaque. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

Chandelier in the hall by the main entrance. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

A segment of a drawing, “Invincible before daybreak”, by Edward Pien (2007). Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

Ceiling in seminar room, with all the high tech gadgets seamlessly incorporated. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

A segment of a painting symbolizing past indigenous injustices. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

Decorative designs on walls and windows symbolizing plurarity. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

Painting (details soon). Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

Contemplative garden. The Aga Khan in referring to this exterior space said, “a new garden in the forecourt, a tranquil space for contemplating the past and thinking about the future.” Background building is the Royal Canadian Mint. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

A colourful plaque on wall explaining pluralism in all its aspects. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakah/Simerg.

The last of the beautiful fall colours shading the Global Centre for Pluralism on November 11, in a delayed autumn foliage. Photo: Malik Merchant/Barakh/Simerg.

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Press Conference with winners of the 2017 Pluralism Award

Pluralism Award Winners with Mcnee and Clarke at press conference(l to r): Daniel Webb of Australia, Alice Wairimu Nderitu of Kenya, Leyner Palacios Asprilla of Colombia – all three are Pluralism Award Winners – Rt. Hon. Joe Clarke and John McNee.

Members of the media were invited on Tuesday morning for an hour long press conference at the Global Centre for Pluralism to meet with the winners of the first Pluralism Award. The opening remarks by the Centre’s Secretary General John McNee were followed by the introduction of each of the 3 winners by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, Canada’s former Prime Minister. Mr. Clarke headed the jury that selected the 3 winners and 7 other honourable mentions from over 200 nominations that were submitted in 43 different countries.

Leyner Palacios Asprilla: The humble and courageous activist Leyner Asprilla of Colombia spoke about the the terrible massacre in May 2002 when the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the guerilla movement known with the Spanish acronym FARC, launched gas cylinder bombs at a church in Bojayá full of civilians that was being used as a human shield by a paramilitary group. The bombs bursted the church killing 79 people including 48 infants and children. Asprilla survived the massacre but he emerged to find that 32 of his family members had been killed. Instead of becoming despondent over this cruel tragedy, Asprilla went on to found the Committee for the Rights of Victims of Bojayá, giving voice to over 11,000 victims of the conflict that live in the municipality of Bojayá, Chocó. As a result of his fight for social justice, Leyner was asked to represent Bojayá massacre victims during peace negotiations between guerilla forces and the government. One of the results was that FARC publicly acknowledged their role in the 2002 tragedy and, in a private ceremony in a Bojayá church, requested forgiveness.

leyner-palacios-asprilla-1-feature.jpgLeyner Palacios Asprilla. Photo: Barakah/Simerg.

Asprilla organized assemblies with representatives from every community in Bojayá, even the most remote, and encouraged each community to include a female representative. Now, these remote communities have a united voice that takes their demand for human rights to the highest levels of government, and around the world. By bringing communities together in the fight for social justice, Leyner realized how powerful a chorus of diverse voices can be. Today, he continues to demand that Colombia embrace diversity by respecting the rights of all its citizens, particularly its most marginalized.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAlice Wairimu Nderitu. Photo:Barakah/Simerg.

Alice Wairimu Nderitu: The graceful Alice Nderitu of Kenya has been a tireless peacemaker, conflict mediator and gender equality advocate who believes that differences can be strengths, not weaknesses. She took a seat at the peace table with 100 elders from ten ethnic communities who had never negotiated peace with each other before. This was 18 months after violence erupted in Kenya’s Rift Valley when results of a flawed election were announced which ignited historic grievances over land and deep-seated ethnic tensions. As a child eavesdropping in a tree, Alice was told that as a woman she could not participate in the work of making peace. But Alice took her place at the table with male mediators and led the elders in a dialogue that resulted in the region’s first peaceful elections in 20 years Today, as a lead mediator brokering peace throughout Africa, she has proven again and again that making peace is very much women’s business; however she explained that she found it necessary to integrate attitudes generally reserved for man!

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Daniel WebbDaniel Webb. Photo: Barakah/Simerg.

Daniel Webb: The narrative by the articulate Australian Daniel Webb, a lawyer by training, was forceful. He was severely critical of the Australian Government for its decision to place every refugee arriving in boat in Australia’s offshore detention center on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. The conditions in these detention centres are inhumane and demoralizing, with numerous reports of violence, medical neglect, suicide, self-harm. When Daniel visited the island he met many refugees and found out that they were inspiring people who could make great contributions to Australian society, if only given the chance to live on the mainland.

To tackle the offshore detention issue in Australia, Daniel has developed an innovative approach that combines legal action, media advocacy, public campaigns and United Nations engagement. Daniel’s work has helped to hold the Australian government accountable for breaches in international law. His work has not stopped there. He realized he needed to change the public perception of people seeking asylum. Australians had to understand that the people detained offshore were not threats, but rather human beings with their own stories, talents and families.

In addition to hearing stories of Leyner, Alice and Daniel, the media was also briefed about seven other individuals and corporations who received honourable mentions.

Press Conference Video

To access press conference, click on image below and then click again where its says “Watch this video on Youtube”

Date posted: November 15, 2017.

Note: Another version of this post, with enlarged photos, can be read at http://www.barakah.com

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Aga Khan photos, essays and stories: A recap of what to read now at Barakah!

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“The colossal work which you achieve day after day towards a better living standard in the most deprived countries is not unknown to us. The spirit on which this action is based is amongst the purest expressions of human fraternity.” — READ RENE LEVESQUE’S TRIBUTE TO THE AGA KHAN 

“To a non-Muslim the arguments were difficult to follow, but it was clear to me that a strong difference of opinion existed and that the Aga Khan would be called upon to resolve a ticklish point of theological doctrine.” — READ ANECDOTE “I WAS SERVING NO ORDINARY MAN” BY MICHAEL CURTIS

Prince Karim Aga Khan: “Just as we need food and water, so do the plants. Near our vegetable garden there are many large trees. The wind blows many leaves onto our crops. Young plants would get buried under the weight of these leaves, so every morning both of us collect all the leaves and burn them.” — READ SWEET AND ENDEARING CHILDHOOD STORIES OF PRINCE KARIM AGA KHAN

“[the Ismailis] represent in Islamic Ummah a very exceptional community. The reason is that you have since 1957, His Highness the Aga Khan as a spiritual guide, as an intellectual guide” — READ MOHAMMED ARKOUN’S ESSAY ON THE AGA KHAN

Gulnar Saratbekova: “Time went and we reached the most momentous day in our life: May 25, 1995, a historical date that no Badakhshani will ever forget. We were blessed with Mawla’s didar for the very first time. That is when we really knew that we would never be alone, ever again. This was the day for which all our elderly and ancestors were longing, for centuries. — READ THE AGA KHAN’S FIRST VISIT TO BADAKHSHAN

“We are receiving you here officially and not just as a friend because you are an important leader of the Muslim religion…What we admire in you is that you have been able to integrate a modern outlook with religion so that religion has been allowed its true role which is not merely to provide an all-embracing explanation of the universe but also to furnish the fundamental solutions of the problems which life poses us.” — READ LEOPOLD SENGHOR’S TRIBUTE TO THE AGA KHAN

Prince Sinan Aga Khan was born in London, England, on January 2, 2017. Sinan is an Arabic name for boys meaning spearhead and is derived from the root word S-N-N which is used in the Qur’an. Sinan is pronounced [(SI)mple] + [(NA)p + (N)ew] with emphasis on the second syllable. — READ PRINCE SINAN AGA KHAN OFFICIAL PHOTOS

“Through his inspiring words and innovative programs, the Aga Khan has meticulously laid the foundation of the seemingly insurmountable task of re-connecting Islam to its two elder Abrahamic siblings: Judaisim and Christianity, from which it has sadly become separated in the past decades. Clearly, if any person or entity can restore Islam to its rightful place, it would be AKDN under the enlightened, visionary, and revolutionary leadership of the 49th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and his successors.” — READ NIZAR MOTANI’S ESSAY: THE AGA KHAN – FROM AN ISMAILI MUSLIM IMAM TO A GLOBAL CITIZEN

Date posted: April 10, 2017.

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Exclusive Coverage of the Aga Khan Award For Architecture, with Photos and Transcript of Extempore Remarks of Mawlana Hazar Imam in Dubai, UAE

I am also worried about the process of warming….We are seeing villages which are being wiped away by earthquakes, by landslides, by avalanches…I would like to see that as part of general education. I would like to see that as part of secondary education, so that all young people have a better understanding, particularly in our world, in the Islamic world, of the spaces in which they live, how they can ensure the security of their habitat, how they can practice good construction in these areas….PLEASE CLICK TO READ TRANSCRIPT OF THE AGA KHAN’S EXTEMPORE REMARKS

PLEASE CLICK: Special Coverage – Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Visit to the UAE

Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge, Tehran, one of 6 projects to win the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Please click on photo for coverage of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture

Tabiat Pedestrian Bridge, Tehran, one of 6 projects to win the 2016 Aga Khan Award for Architecture. Photo: Aga Khan Trust for Culture/Barzin Baharlouie. Please click on photo for special report.

Date posted: Monday, November 7, 2016.

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His Highness the Aga Khan’s “Enduring Commitment to Afghanistan” – Watch Videos of Mawlana Hazar Imam at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan

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His Excellency Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan (right) with His Highness the Aga Khan, Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network and 49th Imam of Ismaili Muslims. Photo: European Union. Copyright.

Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, is attending the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan on Wednesday, 5 October, 2016. The conference is being co-hosted by the European Union and Afghanistan. Like previous conferences, this conference is the opportunity to signal sustained political and financial support to Afghan peace, state-building and development. Mawlana Hazar Imam has contributed significantly towards these purposes over the past several years, and has participated and spoken at previous such conferences held around the world.

We are pleased to provide links to videos of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s presence at the conference in Brussels, including his bilateral meetings with conference attendees, a “family photo” of conference participants and the statement that he has made.

FAMILY PHOTO OF BRUSSELS CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS

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BILATERAL MEETING WITH SWEDEN’S DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER

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BILATERAL MEETING WITH FRANCE’S MINISTER OF STATE

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STATEMENT BY HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN

If you encounter technical problems in watching any of the videos, please visit https://tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu/videos.

Date posted: October 5, 2016.

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For more photos and videos of the conference please visit https://tvnewsroom.consilium.europa.eu/videos