July 11, 2017, marked the 60th Anniversary or Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan becoming the Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims. It is the beginning of a year of commemoration for the Ismaili Muslim Community in Canada and worldwide. The Aga Khan is a Honorary Citizen of Canada and member of the Order of Canada.
It was on July 11, 1957, at the age of 20, that the Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather, Sultan Mahomed Shah, as the 49th Imam of the Ismailis. A number of commemorative events are expected to take place throughout the year to mark the Diamond Jubilee, and the Aga Khan has expressed his intention to visit the Ismaili community in various countries around the world, including Canada.
During his Golden Jubilee, commemorated in 2007-2008, His Highness visited Ottawa for the inauguration of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, presided over by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The first Ismailis arrived in Canada in the late 1950s as part of a professional pool that immigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom and western European countries. A few Ismaili entrepreneurs also arrived at that time in search of economic opportunities. This steady growth continued until the early 1970s when political changes in many Asian and African countries led to the arrival of large numbers of Ismailis in Canada.
The community went through another important growth phase when several Ismailis from Central Asia settled in Canada after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.
Today, approximately 100,000 Ismailis are settled throughout Canada, and occupy senior positions in the professions and in government, and many are successful business people. In Canada, Ismailis have become known for their strong principles of volunteerism and support for humanitarian causes.
The Ismaili Muslim Community in Canada is governed by volunteers under the aegis of His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Canada, headquartered in Toronto. Local Ismaili Councils are based in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal.
In Canada, institutions established by the Aga Khan include the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, an agency of the global, non-denominational Aga Khan Development Network, as well as the award-winning Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa; the Global Centre for Pluralism (in partnership with the Government of Canada); the Ismaili Centre in Burnaby; the Aga Khan Museum, the Ismaili Centre, and Park in Toronto; the Aga Khan Garden, Alberta; and a park in Burnaby.
The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (www.agakhanmuseum.org) seeks to foster a greater understanding of the contribution that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage, and like the Ismaili Centres, hosts programs and events that encourage dialogue and mutual understanding among people.
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