"He told them (non-ismaili spouses) if they thought they were Non-Ismailis and had to become Ismailis, this should not be the case as he said "We are one family". He also said that he really could use their assistance or their children's assistance in his work in Africa, in Afghanistan and in Asia. He said "I can use you or your children temporarily, permanently or long-term – whatever suits you." He was so happy and kept stressing how happy he was to meet them...."
A Summary of Mawlana Hazar Imam's Darbar in Vancouver
On November 25, 2008
First of all Deedar Mubarak to all of you as we had excellent Deedar in Vancouver. Our hearts are fulfilled as we have been blessed and we are very fortunate to have received this wonderful zaheri Deedar.
Our most wonderful experience was on the day that Hazar Imam arrived on November 24th and the Jamat was really encouraged to line up on four streets surrounding the hotel where he was going to stay (The Pan Pacific) and also on the streets across from the Hotel (The Waterfront).
We secured an excellent spot on a sidewalk across from the hotel. Thousands of murids had come to welcome the Imam and I have yet to see this kind of energy when Hazar Imam arrives.
The figures quoted were approx. 7,000 people were gathered to welcome Hazar Imam which is record breaking numbers. We were given three flags each – My Flag, the Canadian Flag and the British Columbian Flag.
It had been a beautiful, sunny day and the evening was crisp and the sky very clear but it was bitterly cold especially with the wind blowing from the waterfront. It did not bother any of us as we shivered despite our heavy coats; scarves; gloves; socks and layers of clothes. We would have missed this occasion had we remained at home.
The volunteers were incredible and provided everyone with masala tea as we waited in Intezar for almost 2 hours. Hazar Imam was supposed to arrive at 7 pm but he was delayed and arrived around 8:40 pm. Murids had lined up since 6 pm.
Cheerleading went on as everyone screamed "GOLDEN JUBILEE" with so much energy that it set the tone for Hazar Imam's arrival. There was a Canadian Band and they did a march past a couple of times before Hazar Imam's arrival. We all cheered and we saw people from all nationalities watching from the towers; offices and the hotels with smiles on their faces.
We met so many Ismailis from different parts of the world and they complimented the Canadian Ismailis for their hospitality and the warmth which they had shown to the international Jamat.
The streets were blocked to traffic and as they got news that Hazar Imam was very close to arriving, the Band started marching from the top of the street where the motorcade was supposed to enter.
It was the most exciting moment for us as we saw our Beloved Imam's car drive slowly into the street and he had rolled down his window and had his head out and waved at us and made eye contact with all of us standing on that side of the street.
We will never forget that smile and Mowla's happy face as he saw the number of murids who had gathered to welcome him and he heard everyone saying GOLDEN JUBILEE.
He smiled more and more as he looked at his Jamat with emotion. We truly touched his heart as he stepped out of his car by the hotel and just looked around at the thousands of murids gathered all cheering with flags. It was sensational and we left feeling so blessed.
The Darbar was the following day and doors to BC Place were to open at 10:00 am and we were informed that the Deedar time was 4:00 pm. People had lined up from 5:00 and 6:00 am despite the rain.
We arrived at our Parking Lot around 8:45 am and were sad that it was raining so hard when we arrived at the Parking Lot. I only had one small umbrella and Naseem and Dinesh had not brought their umbrellas.
Imagine our delight as we drove into the parking lot and arrangements had been made to give brand new huge umbrellas to the Jamat and we were so thankful to all the volunteers and leadership for thinking of all these details.
The umbrellas were so big that not a drop of rain would touch us as we walked about 20 minutes to the Venue in huge puddles of water. However, we made it to the entrance where Non-Ismaili spouses with their Ismaili family were to enter.
The volunteers all wished us Darbar Mubarak cheerfully and welcomed us into the Non-Ismaili Lounge after the security check, etc. The lounge was in the Hall of Fame at BC Place so there was so much to see and do for the Non-Ismaili spouses, children, better-half, etc. while their Ismaili family attended the Darbar.
We were all given the Golden Jubilee Pin as at other Darbars; and invited to have Masala Chai and refreshments. It was just what we needed after walking in the freezing cold and rain. The lounge was perfect and there were so many rooms and so much planned for them so that they would not get bored.
A couple of members from the Council came to greet the Non-Ismaili families and welcomed us cordially.
We were given a tour of the place and after we settled Dinesh in, Naseem and I proceeded towards the Darbar Hall.
We were again greeted warmly by all the volunteers; given shoe bags that we get in India (not plastic bags!!); a full Snack Bag with just about every goodie that you can think of. I did not even finish quarter of my snack bag. The bag was a golden yellow gift bag which was very impressive. The contents were:
A bag of baby carrots
Two fruit bars
One package of Doritos
One package of Mini Ritz Bites with real cheese
A Chocolate Chip Chewy Bar (The wrapper stamped with Golden Jubilee – Canada)
A huge slice of banana bread with fruits (delicious)
A wet one
A Fresh, Moist packaged Towelette
We could not believe the transformation of BC Place and the stage, although standard in all countries; there is always something different added by each country.
This was one of the most beautiful stages I have seen especially the choice of flower arrangements and single flowers. This did not look like a Hockey Stadium but a beautiful Darbar Hall.
Below is a brief summary of what I can remember about the Deedar and Hazar Imam's Farman Mubarak. I was not feeling that great as this was the first time after my illness that I sat on the carpet for 9 hours of Intezar but it was worth every moment.
We again secured a great spot beside the red runner and not too far away from the stage. The screens were huge so that people right at the back could also see everything. There was no separation of the international Jamat and Canadian Jamat as we all learned from previous mulaqats that this was a sore point with the international Jamat. We are one united Jamat so why should there be a distinction between the locals and International visitors. Everyone was allowed to sit together.
The ambience in the Darbar Hall was befitting to this lovely Golden Jubilee Darbar.
There was so much discipline, harmony and tolerance that was even felt by our Imam who told Mukhi Saheb that he was very, very happy with the discipline during the Darbar and that it was the best he has seen although there were thousands of people. The final count given to me was 23,000 – 25,000 people but lots more came after that and the hall was so full. Hazar Imam asked Mukhi Saheb to convey this message to the Jamat that they had made him very happy with such discipline.
The Intezar program officially started at 1:00 pm but those of us who had been there since 9:00 am prayed from that time until the Intezar program started and the giryazari continued after the Imam left the Hall but was still on the premises as he visited with the Council members and Mukhi/Kamadia Sahebs of other Jamatkhanas in the lower mainland for 40 minutes. He then went to visit the Non-Ismaili families for 15 minutes as he was in a rush to get to the Institutional Dinner to be held in an hour after the Darbar. Hazar Imam left the premises at 6:10 pm.
This was a spiritual Intezar Program with so many beautiful ginans, qasidas; Farmans; Waez and lots of Giryazari Tasbihs.
The Intezar program started with the ginan "Anand, Anand Kario Rikhisaro….
The giriyazari Tasbih was recited "Ya Ale Nabi, Aulad-e-Ali, Ya Mushkil Kusha, Ya Hazar Imam" throughout with the Salwat; Ya Allah, Ya Wahab, Ya Ali, Allahu Samad and many other powerful giryazari tasbihs. The ginans selected made us very emotional. The ginans recited were "Sami Maraji, Uniya bee uniya ame kiriyana hina(n), Toh Amne Che Aash tamariyaji. Of course the verse "Hariya so hariya ne sukabi hariya, Jo hove nazar tamariyaji. Mitha so mitha ne kadva bhi mitha, to aah gurke vachne fal mitharaji.
Other Ginans recited were Saheb ji More Man bhave….Jeh jeh mangu….; Uncha re khot….. and the popular Qasidas Dum a dum Ali Ali and many others. Then there was Ab teri muhobbat lagi, Aash tamhari shri ho; verses of Ashaji – Hina Khina Sarve Jiv Tamara, Betha che tamare dwar ji…..Tame hi Mata ne Tame Hi Pita…….The tasbihs were all upstanding so the Jamat could stretch their legs.
Just before Hazar Imam left his residence, they recited "Aankha ladi joi joi thaki, Kyare avey moro Sham, partake jaani paaye padun Vala, Nami nami karun paranam, Mitha Sha samarun meh tero naam, Ya Shah samarun men tero naam, Khudavind samarun meh tero naam……This touched everyone's heart as the Intezar had begun intensely and we could feel our heartbeats that our Mowla would be with us in a short while.
We were shown on screen when Hazar Imam arrived at 4:00 pm as his car drove right into the underground parking and He started to laugh and raised both his hands as he looked around at the underground parking in which he was brought and you could see the look of amazement on his face. Later, I will relate to you how he joked about the underground parking.
He was laughing and smiling so much as he shook hands with all the leaders and Mukhi Kamadia Sahebs but he kept raising his hands and looking at this parking.
Off screen - He went into his lounge and changed into His ceremonial Robe and Topi and He entered the Hall.
Mashalla, as in other Darbars, He looked majestic and he walked for so long on all the red runners throughout the Darbar Hall. He must have walked for 25 minutes or more and He passed by us at such close distance that we could see him so well. Hazar Imam was smiling so much as he looked around at the thousands of murids gathered in this huge hall.
During this time the Jamat followed the Al-Waez's lead in reciting Salwat with such discipline and you could sense that Hazar Imam was very happy.
He was so happy as He went on to the stage to take His seat in the beautiful chair.
Mukhi Saheb, with Hazar Imam's consent, presented the gold khilat and Hazar Imam did not remove it but kept it on till the end.
After the Mukhi Kamadia Sahebs and Mukhiani Kamadiani Sahebas presented a mehmani, then Imam gave His consent to two young ladies (probably in their early twenties) to proceed with the Ayat. This is the second time I have heard a female recite the Ayat and Hazar Imam just stared at her as she said it so beautifully. He looked all around the Jamat as if He was taking in the face of every murid. Then the translation was read by the second young lady.
This was followed by two verses of the ginan "Dhan Dhan Aaj.." and Hazar Imam was smiling as four Ismaili men recited the ginan (traditionally, it has always been recited by ladies). We could see He was so happy. The discipline continued throughout the Darbar.
This was then followed by a beautiful Qasida by four Afghani young ladies and Hazar Imam listened so intently and smiled all the time.
The President of the Council for Canada then gave his loyalty address which I personally felt was too long and it cut into Hazar Imam's time as the Farman was short compared to other Darbars I have attended. At one point again Hazar Imam wiped a tear during the pledges and we heard him say "Ameen".. He is very emotional these days and we also cried.
Then the moment we had all been waiting for arrived when Hazar Imam walked to the mike and started His Farman by giving best blessings to all those who were at the Darbar; their families and their jamats wherever they had come from. He prayed for all the souls of the deceased that they may rest in eternal peace.
He thanked the Government of Canada for the excellent support they had provided to the institutions to make his visit to Canada possible. He commented that at the luncheon that afternoon, the Premier of BC said to him "Now welcome to the best part of Canada". He smiled and said he had to agree with that.
He then became serious and talked about the economic crisis in North America which would not only affect Canada but other parts of the world. This was a time to proceed with caution in order to avoid the effects of the recession.
He gave ideas on how we could minimize the effects of the recession by working together; forming partnerships. He joked that he knew that his murids like to work in individualized situations and were not keen on partnerships. If we are afraid to enter into any partnerships; be cautious about the terms of the contract and ensure that there is an escape out of the contract if things did not work out.
Take risks only if you know that there is a definite gain. Do not invest in anything where the risk factor is unknown or there is no immediate gain. Be cautious.
Professionals should form associations and build strong institutions.
Those murids who have come to Canada from South and Central Asia must take this opportunity to educate themselves in Canada. However, they must not stay in Canada but look towards returning to a more safer and sound Afghanistan, which Inshallah, it will be in the future. The education and knowledge acquired here should be taken back to their homeland.
Hazar Imam then touched upon the ethics of our faith and that we must not forget the ethics of our faith.
Hazar Imam reminded us of three issues of concern to him. He is still very concerned about the number of poor families and it is a serious issue for him. Over the next while he will make every attempt to reduce the extreme poverty in the world.
The second issue was good news that the individual life span has increased and people now live much longer than they used to. However, with this good news also comes the worry about ensuring that the aged are well looked after. That they are not abandoned to lead lonely lives. He wants to ensure that the aged do not lose their dignity.
The third issue was that many, many countries do not have permanent Jamatkhanas. He has been working hard at establishing permanent Jamatkhanas and in the future will continue his attempt to provide the Jamat with these Jamatkhanas.
He thanked the thousands of volunteers across Canada who had worked so hard at organizing these beautiful Darbars. He said he had come prepared with a joke about being taken down a ramp in the underground parking in Toronto but that joke would not work here because he was amazed at the transformation of the underground parking and how he was driven through without a ramp. He said when the owner of this place sees this, you make sure you charge him a huge price for this décor. He really laughed and said that it had become the normal thing for the Imam to joke with his spiritual children at the Darbars. He also commented on the work done in BC Place and how everything had been transformed. He gave best blessings to all the volunteers over and over again.
He thanked the Jamat for their generosity in the Material and Time and Knowledge nazrana presented by the Jamat and He said he feels that he now has individuals to help him in his endeavours.
Hazar Imam then gave best blessings for the material nazrana and the gift presented to him by the Jamat. He prayed that this may be returned to us in thousand fold.
Hazar Imam gave best blessings for good health, prosperity, long lives, and unity in the family, to remain strong on the path of Siratul Mustaqeem and for mushkil asan. He also gave His best blessings for souls of all ruhani members and prayed for their eternal peace.
He gave us blessings and asked us to always smile as it is a blessing from Allah. Always wear a smile.
He walked again on all the runners and also stopped by the people who were on stretchers and stretched out both his arms to bless everyone. Right through that Sick Bay he had his hands stretched out and palms down giving blessings to everyone and finally to all the Jamat. He stood there for a few minutes and again stretched out his arms and palms down giving dua ashish to everyone. It was very, very touching.
He then went into the lounge and was there for 40 minutes. He was in the Darbar for one hour and then proceeded to meet the non-Ismaili families for 15 minutes as he was rushing to get to the Institutional Dinner the same night in an hour.
Dinesh said when the Imam entered he walked around all of them first for about 5 or 7 minutes and smiled at everyone and blessed everyone. He then welcomed everyone with a very big smile. Dinesh was able to see the Imam from only a foot away and he was very moved by the words that the Imam spoke.
He told them if they thought they were Non-Ismailis and had to become Ismailis, this should not be the case as he said "We are one family". He also said that he really could use their assistance or their children's assistance in his work in Africa, in Afghanistan and in Asia. He said "I can use you or your children temporarily, permanently or long-term – whatever suits you." He was so happy and kept stressing how happy he was to meet them.
While Hazar Imam was still on the premises, the Jamat recited the Shukrana Tasbih and continued the ginans and giriyazari tasbih.
Mukhi/Kamadia Sahebs came in after Hazar Imam departed at 6:10 pm and addressed the Jamat that Imam was very, very happy with the "marvellous" work done by volunteers Mukhi Saheb asked Hazar Imam that was that for British Columbia volunteers and Hazar Imam replied "No, the volunteers across Canada have done "marvellous" work for this visit. Hazar Imam always uses one specific word at every Darbar and this time his favourite word was "marvellous" to describe décor, work of volunteers; the discipline in the Jamat and the transformation of BC Place underground parking and BC Place Hall. Hazar Imam told Mukhi Saheb to tell the Jamat that He was very happy.
I have been informed that Hazar Imam departed from Vancouver at 10:00 pm the same night after the Institutional Dinner. There were 250 invited people at the airport.
We say a million Shukrana for this beautiful visit and thankful that the Canadian Ismailis made Hazar Imam very happy. He was very impressed with the décor in his suite at the Pan Pacific Hotel and commented that he had not seen such beautiful décor. He was so amazed at the lounge that had been set up for him at BC Place and commented that the décor was the best he had seen so far from all the places he had visited.
The Jamat was then invited to have Sherbet and snacks before the Jamatkhana ceremonies started. Sherbet was served in small gold covered bottles with an inscription "Golden Jubilee Vancouver – 2008" and Golden Jubilee Canada. It said "Sherbet" on it. We thought that the leadership and volunteers who worked so hard for this Darbar had thought of everything, even to the point of bottling the Sherbet in gold bottles.
Jamati ceremonies started but the regular Jamati Mukhi/Kamadia Sahebs and Mukhiani/Kamadiani Sahebas left for the Institutional Dinner and the ceremonies were conducted by acting M/K Sahebs and Sahebas.
Abe-Safa and Juro blessed by the Imam was given to everyone at the Paat.
Soon after (although we did not stay as I was not feeling well after being there for more than 9 hours) packed dinners were ready for the Jamat. We were given take out because I was leaving. The packed dinner had a vegetable baked samosa, barfi, meat biriyani and mukhvas. It was again very hygienic and also reduces waste.
Mubaraki to everyone. You were all in our thoughts, in our prayers and we asked Mowla for everything we could think of for our family and friends. We also had all the ruhanis in our mind as we prayed for their eternal peace.
It is so quiet in BC now that our Beloved Imam's Golden Jubilee has been celebrated and our Beloved Imam has physically left us. However, the memories of the Darbar will always remain with us.
I am sure I have forgotten many things but at least you will get the gist of how the Golden Jubilee was celebrated here in Vancouver.
Last edited by Admin on Wed Dec 03, 2008 1:26 am, edited 1 time in total
Mobina Jaffer in the Senate regarding MHI's GJ visit.
His Highness the Aga Khan
Congratulations on Golden Jubilee
Hon. Mobina S.B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, as many of you are aware, His Highness the Aga Khan, a great friend of Canada, was welcomed to our shores on Tuesday by Ministers Baird and Kenney. This visit is part of a celebration that marks His Highness' fiftieth year as the imam of the Ismaili community. Fifty years ago, at the age of 20, the Aga Khan succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan, as the forty-ninth hereditary imam, spiritual leader, of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. The Aga Khan leads a community of 50 million Ismaili Muslims living in some 25 countries. He is the direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him and his family, through his first cousin and son-in-law, the first imam and his wife Fatima, the Prophet's daughter.
In keeping with the Shia tradition of Islam, the mandate of the imam extends to both spiritual and worldly matters. Since assuming the office of the imamate in 1957, Prince Karim Aga Khan has honoured his grandfather's concern for the well-being of the Ismaili community, the wider Muslim community and those amongst whom they live. He has emphasized Islam as a thinking, spiritual faith that teaches compassion and tolerance and upholds the dignity of mankind.
In this golden jubilee of His Highness, the community has begun to launch new social, cultural and economic development projects. In keeping with the ethics of the faith, these projects aspire to improve the quality of life for the most vulnerable in society. These new golden jubilee initiatives join current projects as part of the Aga Khan Development Network, AKDN, which is a group of agencies with mandates ranging from health and education to architecture, microfinance, disaster reduction, rural development and the promotion of private sector enterprise and revitalization of historic cities, all of which are catalysts for development. Guided by the Islamic ethic of compassion for those less fortunate, the AKDN works for the common good of all citizens regardless of their gender, origin or religion.
The AKDN spends in excess of US$320 million annually on social and cultural development activities. It operates more than 200 health care institutions, including nine hospitals and over 300 schools in the developing world. AKDN is one of CIDA's most important partners as Canada aims to improve the lives of others around the world.
On a personal note, honourable senators, I am very much aware that I am in this place because of the education that the Aga Khan personally provided to me. Today I take the opportunity on the auspicious occasion of his golden jubilee to thank him for enriching my life.
Honourable senators, I know you will join me in wishing His Highness the Aga Khan and Canadian Ismailis a most wonderful visit and celebration.
Mr. Devinder Shory (Calgary Northeast, CPC):
Mr. Speaker, first I would like to thank God and my deceased parents with whose blessings I am here today. I would also like to thank my wife, Neetu, and my children, Jatin, Chetan, and Arisha, who support me in all I do. Finally I must acknowledge and thank the constituents of Calgary Northeast, who elected me to represent them in the House of Commons.
My riding includes many members of Canada's Ismaili community, who were pleased to welcome their spiritual leader, the Aga Khan, to our city yesterday as part of his cross-Canada tour. This afternoon up to 14,000 Ismailis are expected to attend a gathering in Calgary, and nearly 50,000 Ismailis attended the gathering in Toronto last weekend.
His Highness the Aga Khan praised Canada for its commitment to pluralism and human rights, values that are shared by the Conservative government. That is why we teamed up with the Aga Khan to build the global centre for pluralism.
On behalf of the Conservative Party, I would like to welcome the Aga Khan to Canada and wish him the best of success for the remainder of his visit.
An unforgettable occasion
Burnaby woman first met the Aga Khan when she was a child in her native Tanzania
Nic Price, Burnaby Now
Published: Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Natasha Rajan can't remember the first time she saw the Aga Khan as a four-year-old in her native Tanzania.
But she won't forget the most recent time, as she saw the spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims speak at B.C. Place on Tuesday last week.
Between 22,000 and 25,000 people came from around the country and the world to see the Aga Khan on his Golden Jubilee tour marking 50 years as imam.
"His visit is a big deal. Seeing him speak to us, giving us advice and guiding us, is an amazing experience. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us," Rajan said.
Rajan said the Aga Khan spoke of staying true to the ethics of Islam, especially in troubled economic times, being generous and volunteering in the community and how appreciative he was to see a strong Ismaili community in Canada.
With some in the crowd coming from as far as Afghanistan, the U.K., Dubai and the U.S., and many more being immigrants from Africa and Asia, Rajan said the event was a multicultural celebration.
"It just shows how people can come together from different parts of the world and celebrate something together. It was an incredible feeling," she said.
The Aga Khan is the spiritual leader of Ismaili Muslims, who number about 15 million worldwide and can be found in India, East Africa, Afghanistan and Canada.
Canada's Ismaili population is estimated at around 75,000, with approximately 10,000 Ismailis in Burnaby.
Many Canadian Ismailis are of East African descent.
According to The Vancouver Sun, in 1957, when the Aga Khan inherited the title of 49th Ismaili imam from his grandfather, Canada had a single Ismaili citizen: Safar Ali Ismaily.
There was barely any change until 1972 when a flood of about 6,000 refugees arrived from East Africa following their expulsion from newly independent Uganda and the seizure of their assets in Tanzania and Kenya.
Born to Ismaili parents, Rajan became Ismaili as a child. Her family emigrated to Canada in 2001.
She said the Aga Khan and the religion were the inspiration for her history of volunteering, which goes back as far as she can remember.
Amidst widespread poverty in Tanzania, the Aga Khan's philanthropic ventures shine bright.
As well as being a spiritual leader, he is the head of the world's largest non-government development agency: the Aga Khan Development Network.
With an annual budget of US $500 million, the network carries out work around the world - primarily in the poor regions of Africa and Asia.
"The AKDN is doing a lot of work in Tanzania. There are Aga Khan schools and hospitals, and the AKDN helps with micro-financing," Rajan said.
The third-year pharmacy student at UBC said hearing the Aga Khan's address has inspired her to continue to give to the elderly and less fortunate in the community.
Ismailis believe that His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan is a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad in a lineage that spans 1,400 years.
Simon Fraser University student Shaheed Devji said the visit of the Aga Khan was akin to the visit of the Pope.
"It's a real great experience when you get to be in his presence. It's a really spiritual experience, and I've been preparing myself for it," he said.
"A lot of people go throughout their lives without seeing him in person."
Devji likened the atmosphere on Tuesday to an excited capacity sports crowd.
"The 20,000 being focused on one spiritual goal, the energy there was unlike anything I've ever felt before. It's hard not to be inspired, rejuvenated and emotionally charged when you're in the same building with 20,000 people focused on the same thing," he said.
The Simon Fraser University communications student said he felt inspired to refocus on his faith but also felt a simple joy encouraged by the Aga Khan.
"It was his Golden Jubilee, and he wanted us to celebrate. He wanted us to be happy and smiling," he said.
Many of the large crowd obliged and celebrated into the night with a traditional meal, music and dancing at B.C. Place.
2008, November 6: The finishing touches are being applied to the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, situated at 199 Sussex Drive in Ottawa. The building is established by His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th hereditary Imam, or spiritual leader, of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, and founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). This new building will be officially inaugurated on Saturday, December 6, 2008.
Today , Friday Dec5/08 @ 2.00 pm Someone fron the Noorani Family visited the High Profile J.k site in Toronto. 2 SUV arrived with 2 police escort. The SUV had tinted Windows .It could be MHI or Prince Amyn, and He waved at the crowd 25-30 who were standing outside. They left the site @2.45 pm.Mubaraki to all
OTTAWA, Dec. 5 /CNW Telbec/ - His Highness the Aga Khan and The Right
Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, will officially
inaugurate the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat tomorrow afternoon, Saturday,
December 6, 2008
The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, situated at 199 Sussex Drive on
Ottawa's ceremonial route, has been established by the Aga Khan, 49th
hereditary Imam, or spiritual leader, of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder
and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN).
A secular facility, the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat will be a
permanent presence in the Capital, reflecting the long standing relationship
with Canada and playing a representational role for the activities of the
Imamat (office of the Imam) including its worldwide network of development
agencies which constitute the AKDN. The building has been designed by
internationally celebrated Japanese architect Mr. Fumihiko Maki.
During the ceremony to be held in the glass-domed atrium, guests will
hear of the significance to Canada and Canadians of the establishment of this
institution and will witness the unveiling of a plaque to officially
inaugurate the new landmark building.
Please visit www.akdn.org as well as www.akfc.ca for information on the
Aga Khan Development Network and Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
As space is limited, media are required to register for this event in
advance. Only media accredited through the Canadian Parliamentary Press
Gallery will be permitted.
Aga Khan opens $50-million architectural landmark in Ottawa
Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun
Published: Saturday, December 06, 2008
The Aga Khan, the Ismaili Muslim spiritual leader who ended an eight-day Canadian tour in Vancouver less than two weeks ago, is back in Ottawa today to open a new architectural landmark on Sussex Drive.
The $50-million building is to be the permanent home of the Ismaili Imamat delegation - in effect, an embassy for representatives of his 15 million followers who are scattered in 25 or 30 countries around the globe.
It's the first such Ismaili delegation anywhere, though another is planned for Portugal, and the Aga Khan says more will be eventually built in other places.
Canada got the first one, he said in an interview during his earlier visit, because it has long been a strong partner of Ismailis.
"We wanted to start having a significant presence in the capital, with all our institutions established in the capital and being able to do two things.
"One is to be able to serve Canada, insofar as we can," he said. "Secondly, it's to create even greater relationships between Canada and what we are doing in various parts of the world."
This relationship initially focused on helping needy Ismailis, but has expanded to encompass people of widely differing cultures and faiths.
It began in the early 1970s under former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who personally worked with the Aga Khan to pave the way for Ismaili immigrants who were being driven from their homes in newly independent parts of eastern Africa. This was highly successful, as the new immigrants quickly found financial success and integrated into the life of their new country. Thus it quickly evolved into Canada supporting many of the good works undertaken in the developing world by agencies of the $500-million-a-year Aga Khan Development Network. Various AKDN agencies, including the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, will be housed in the new delegation building.
It was designed by the renowned Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, with Moriyama & Teshima of Toronto. Though it's not a public building, it will be unfenced and inviting - a rarity on the street that is home to Canada's prime minister and has come to be lined with virtual fortresses, such as the Saudi Arabian embassy next door.
The Aga Khan has long been a champion of thoughtful architecture, and he asked that the design take its inspiration from the qualities of a rock crystal. The result is a simple rectilinear structure resting on a granite podium and featuring an asymmetric, crystalline dome, a huge interior atrium to host public events, and an outdoor courtyard. The exterior is white neoparies, a modern material that changes colour with the changes in natural light.
The building occupies about a third of the one-hectare site. The rest will be publicly accessible landscaped grounds.
It is one of four Aga Khan building projects under way in Canada.
Also in Ottawa is the Global Centre for Pluralism, being built in the former Canadian War Museum. It's to be an international centre for research, education and exchange about the values, practices and policies that underpin pluralist societies. Two other buildings are planned as part of a $200-million complex in Toronto. An Ismaili community centre and place of worship will share a seven-hectare site with a new Aga Khan Museum dedicated to acquiring, preserving and displaying artifacts from various periods and places relating to the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious heritage of Islam.
Six years ago, the Aga Khan presented architects with an unusual challenge: create for him a headquarters in Ottawa that was both transparent and translucent, pleasing and confusing, mysterious, esoteric and ethereal. The budget was impressive, and the demands were exacting. The stunning $54-million structure that resulted officially opens today. Here, according to Maria Cook, who has spoken with the designers and builders and toured the building, is how it came to be.
The Ottawa Citizen
Saturday, December 06, 2008
CREDIT: Jean Levac, The Ottawa Citizen
A multi-faceted glass dome evokes rock crystal. It vaults over a large central atrium, seen in model below.
CREDIT: Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen
Interior: A cast aluminum screen encloses the atrium. The pattern is a double layer of repeating hexagons and is inspired by Islamic design. Officials prepare for today's opening ceremony.
CREDIT: Pat McGrath, The Ottawa Citizen
The exterior courtyard is visible from Boteler Street. Plantings include evergreen junipers, boxwood hedges and silverberry trees.
In October 2002, Fumihiko Maki, a distinguished architect, received an unusual letter at his Tokyo office. It was written on behalf of Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, spiritual leader of the world's 15 million Ismaili Muslims. The Aga Khan, as he is known, had appointed Mr. Maki to design a building in Ottawa. It would be the first in the world to represent him and the Aga Khan Development Network, which supports social, economic and cultural projects in developing countries. The three-page letter, sent from his château outside of Paris, outlined the Aga Khan's vision.
"The goal is to create a building which causes the viewer to wonder how different elements and different planes relate to each other, how they work together to tickle the eye," the Aga Khan said, proposing that Mr. Maki take inspiration from rock crystal, the mineral quartz in its clear and colourless form. "In a rock crystal the cuts and angles permit both transparency as well as translucency," the letter said. "It pleases and confuses the eye by its internal planes running at different angles, creating a sense of visual mystery. The ... building in a sense should be somewhat mysterious and visually nearly esoteric. It should not be blatant but ethereal, not obvious but difficult to captivate."
The 80-year-old Mr. Maki has a searching mind and modest personality. He is a modernist who fuses eastern and western cultures in his meticulous architecture. He knew this was not going to be easy. Although his work includes numerous international projects, including a skyscraper at Ground Zero in New York, he had never before built in Canada. The site wasn't perfect; the climate hard on buildings.
And how would he achieve the precision and craft for which he is famous? The North American building culture, unlike Europe and Asia, typically favours speed and frugality over workmanship and durability. Indeed, a 2004 National Research Council study of the Canadian construction industry said "many of the sector's clients are not satisfied with the overall value of its products and the quality of its services." The cost per square metre for the proposed $54-million Ottawa building would be twice that of the new Canadian War Museum on LeBreton Flats. If this building were a suit, its tailoring would be more Savile Row than Sears.
Mr. Maki and his 47-year-old associate, Gary Kamemoto, read and re-read the Aga Khan's letter. They were moved by its beauty and they struggled to discern its meaning. Mr. Maki placed it on his desk in a plastic folder.
"It was not one-dimensional," says Mr. Kamemoto. "I found it to be extremely poetic and visionary. It invited a tremendous amount of creative imagination. This isn't the kind of letter that you receive and put away in a file. We all had it on our desks and we referred to it often. It was our job to convert this into a piece of architecture."
As word got out, people's curiosity grew. Who was the Aga Khan, and why was he setting up shop in Ottawa? Born in Geneva, he is a British citizen who divides his time between Switzerland and France. Comparisons have been made to the Dalai Lama, the head of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as George Soros, the global financier and philanthropist.
A 2002 article in the Independent newspaper in Britain said: "The Aga Khan seems to exist in another realm altogether -- self-styled citizen of the world, not quite royal but more than human, a man who is everywhere but comes from nowhere ... businessman, sportsman, jet-setter, philanthropist and quasi-diplomat with an indeterminate role in the current crisis between Islam and the West."
He enjoys personal wealth thanks to family inheritance and business investments. His philanthropic institutions, funded by his followers, spend about $600 million a year, mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The significance of the Aga Khan's status is rooted in the history of Islam. The religion handed down to the prophet Mohammed has two main divisions, Sunnism and Shiism. Ismaili Muslims are the second-largest Shia community. Their imams, or spiritual leaders, are regarded as direct descendants of Mohammed.
They have carried the title "Aga Khan" (Lord Commander) since the Shah of Iran conferred it in the 19th century, and "His Highness" since Queen Elizabeth granted the title in 1957. The current Aga Khan, now 71, became the 49th hereditary imam when he was a 20-year-old student at Harvard University.
The Aga Khan's friendship with Canada goes back to the 1970s, when Pierre Trudeau's government welcomed Ismailis who had been expelled from Uganda. There are about 80,000 Ismaili Muslims in Canada.
The new two-storey building in Ottawa, which opens today, is called the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat. Its function is secular, not religious. It will serve as the headquarters of Aga Khan Foundation Canada, a non-profit agency that supports social development projects in Africa and Asia.
It includes a library and offices, as well as a residence and office for the Aga Khan's use during visits. The building will host public seminars, receptions and exhibitions. About 100 people will work inside.
The Aga Khan's interest in architecture is far-reaching. His activities include the restoration of historic monuments and a triennial architecture award that bestows $500,000 upon creators of outstanding new designs in societies where Muslims have a presence.
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In May 2002, Mr. Maki stepped off the plane from Tokyo at the Ottawa airport and went directly to the building site on Sussex Drive. It faces the Ottawa River and is bounded by King Edward Avenue, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Boteler Street in Lowertown.
The space Mr. Maki was investigating was irregular. From Sussex to Boteler it sloped four metres, a full storey. It was sunken below the level of Sussex Drive; putting traffic at eye level. And it sat beside the on- and off-ramps to the Macdonald Cartier Bridge between Ottawa and Gatineau.
Mr. Maki walked and drove around the area. As he analyzed and photographed the site from various vantage points, including from the Quebec side, he remembered his first visit to Ottawa in 1953. He had been working as a young architect in New York, and had taken the night train to spend Christmas with an uncle at the Japanese Embassy.
"People were skating on the canal and rivers and it was very quiet," he recalls.
The Aga Khan Foundation Canada bought the one-hectare site from the National Capital Commission in 2000 for $5.24 million. One of the few remaining undeveloped sites on Sussex Drive, it is a prestigious address shared with the residences of the prime minister and governor general, and located along the capital's ceremonial route, known as Confederation Boulevard.
Mr. Maki observed that a key characteristic of the site is visibility. Open on three sides, it can be seen from many directions and distances. "Gradually, we tried to interpret the idea to a design," he says. "Mostly, in architecture, it is a long search to arrive at the right sort of images."
He began to sketch. The building would sit on a horizontal granite podium to compensate for the change in grade. It would have two main entrances, from Sussex Drive and Boteler Street. Instead of windows on Sussex, a second-floor terrace would present views of the Ottawa River and the Gatineau Hills, while reducing sight lines to the road.
"Rock crystal is only a metaphor," Mr. Maki thought. "It has a very hard surface. It should be reflective to light." He brought his wife's diamond ring to the office to demonstrate the effect of light, and the architects studied samples of rock crystal, or suisho in Japanese.
"What was very interesting to us is that it's a very ephemeral object," Mr. Kamemoto says. "It's constantly changing. What we observed is complete transparency in some areas and complete opacity in others. Then there are infinite numbers of translucency.
"The way the light interacts with it from different angles, you don't see an object. You see the light bounce within it. We thought that was, perhaps, the spirit of the building which he was asking us to provide." When Mr. Maki won the 1993 Pritzker prize, the highest honour in architecture, the jury said: "He uses light in a masterful way."
To create the feeling of rock crystal, he envisioned a building wrapped in a variety of types of glass. The main facades would be clad in white Neoparies, a crystallized glass material that has a soft, pure colour and smooth, marble-like texture. Made in Japan, its particles reflect surrounding colours.
"It gives a very hard edge and formal disposition, but also makes the building reflective to light," says Mr. Maki.
The side walls would be arranged in alternating bands of transparent and translucent glass. And the building would contain an atrium topped by an asymmetrical glass dome.
"It was so critically important to fully embrace and understand the essence of the rock crystal ... to create a somewhat contemplative as well as emotional experience in the final building," says Mr. Kamemoto.
On Dec. 27, 2002, they presented the design to the Aga Khan and his advisors at his estate in Aiglemont, France, in a boardroom that overlooks a landscaped courtyard.
"He felt that the vision was actually very close to what he was imagining," says Mr. Kamemoto. "So this became the starting point for the design process to unfold."
Almost immediately, they ran into a serious setback. The dome emerges from the building to an apex of 17 metres. But buildings on Sussex Drive are only allowed to be 11 metres high, a limit set by the National Capital Commission.
Mr. Kamemoto was dispatched to Ottawa early in 2003. He needed to understand the context for the new building.
Along Confederation Boulevard he snapped pictures of the panorama of varying architectural shapes from the past, including the Parliament buildings, the National Gallery of Canada, the Lester B. Pearson building. "What distinguished them was that they had unique roofs," he observed. "And they all serve to complement the silhouette of Parliament Hill, which is very vertical."
By then, Maki and Associates had selected their Canadian architecture partners, Moriyama & Teshima of Toronto, designers of the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. Together, they presented their case to the NCC and to the City of Ottawa.
They argued successfully that the Delegation roof would add to the artistic character of the ensemble on Sussex Drive. Furthermore, it would not block sight lines to Parliament Hill.
Several months later, in the spring, workers spray-painted an outline of the building onto the site. Posts were erected at the corners of the planned building, to the exact height of the walls. The arm of a mobile crane extended to what would be the height of the atrium.
The Aga Khan flew to Ottawa to confirm the layout and shape. It would be an 8,570-square-metre structure, including an underground parking garage.
With his approval in hand, the next step was to assemble a team of professionals and tradespeople who could make the project happen. Mr. Maki knew that collaborating with strangers is difficult: "To co-ordinate different trades is a very chaotic situation." Especially given the intricacy of the design.
- - -
In contrast to the simple rectilinear building below, the glass dome is shaped by complex geometry. It is composed of multi-faceted angular planes. Within the dome is a layer of glass-fibre fabric that appears to float over the atrium.
John Kooymans, a 46-year-old structural engineer at Halcrow Yolles of Toronto, was assigned to design a structural skeleton to support the roof. He admits that, after the initial thrill of a challenging project, "there's a bit of anxiety about getting to the point where you want to be."
The solution wasn't obvious. The roof had to span 25 metres. It had to be strong enough to bear 40 tonnes of glass, plus the weight of snow and of window washers, and to resist the force of wind.
At the same time, the skeleton had to be slim and light for structural elegance. "This shape is not exactly structurally friendly," says Mr. Kooymans.
"It's not a perfect dome or a flat surface that you can span across with a simple truss. We weren't allowed to alter the geometry very much. We were challenged to try and make this shape stand up and minimize the amount of solid elements to do so."
After five or six tries, the engineering group proposed an innovative all-in-one system. They created a grid of solid steel bars braced with tension rods below. The glass panels attach to the grid with silicone. There are no window dividers, so the outer glass skin is flat and flush. Only the glass is visible.
Typically, glass is framed in aluminum first and then affixed to a supporting structure. "What's unusual in terms of standard practice in Canada is that we eliminated the aluminum frame system and integrated the glass and steel structure together in one system," says Mr. Kooymans.
Mr. Kooymans designed the roof for Ottawa's hot, humid summers, freezing winters and heavy snowfall. "A transparent building creates all kinds of problems for you," says Mr. Kamemoto.
The engineer specified three layers of glass for the roof to provide extra insulation; a low-iron glass for greater transparency, and glass printed with tiny ceramic dots to filter sunlight.
There are only a handful of companies in the world that can provide such sophisticated glazing, and Josef Gartner of Germany is one of them. However, its engineers said it was impossible to meet the tight schedule. They said it would take two years to make a steel roof structure of this type, supply 657 glass panels for the roof and walls, and deliver and install it all. The project managers in Ottawa wanted it done in less than a year.
Construction manager Tony Cook, of PCL Constructors, told them the atrium is tied to everything in the building. "Before we can do drywall or interior work, we need the roof."
A month later, in December 2006, Mr. Kamemoto was in Germany presenting the project to Josef Gartner staff at the firm's Wurzburg plant. An animated 3-D rendering made them feel like they were flying through the building in a plane. At the end, they applauded.
Although the company had produced glass for some of the biggest names in architecture (Herzog & deMeuron, Richard Rogers, Jean Nouvel), this was the first time an architect had come to them to explain the design.
"It was quite inspiring," says project manager Dirk Schreiter. "It gave us a real view of the architecture and the thinking behind every aspect of the building. It gave everybody the feeling they are really part of the team."
To save time, the Germans travelled once a month to Ottawa to meet with Mr. Kamemoto. He reviewed shop drawings and answered questions. Revisions and approvals were streamlined.
Mr. Cook kept three clocks in his office, to track time in Germany, Japan and Ottawa. "I was constantly thinking, 'Can I call Gary right now and expect a response?' You're getting questions from Germany coming to Canada that had to be answered in Japan."
The roof, he says, embodies the Canadian values of pluralism admired by the Aga Khan. "Originally designed in Toronto, engineered in Germany, steel manufactured in Poland, glass from Austria and put together by Canadian ironworkers. We have a pluralistic project."
It was a relief when the roof was installed before the first snow. But still the architects worried. They tried to anticipate problems and to take precautions, such as producing extra drawings. Mr. Kamemoto made 30 trips to Ottawa. A Moriyama & Teshima architect visited the site daily.
"The building of this was going to be equally as challenging as realizing the vision, and in the end they're a single thing," says Mr. Kamemoto.
- - -
Four weeks before opening day, men in hardhats drill, hammer and saw. "I thought this was going to be a nightmare," admits 53-year-old carpenter Noel Schiller, crouched beside his tools and an unfinished door. "It was an adjustment to realize the degree of accuracy that had to be maintained.
"Everything is on a grid. The grout lines (tile joints) have to line up with the 10-millimetre reveal lines (grooves) in the panels.
"Usually buildings don't have that, so you can cheat. You can hold things out of plumb maybe an eighth of an inch. But here, everything has to be bang-on. Plumb, square, true.
"It's been a challenge for me," he tells Mr. Kamemoto.
"I've been doing this for 30 years and I've never worked on doors like this before. The high-end finishes, the hardware. I knew right away when I saw the concealed hardware what you were trying to achieve. A clean, crisp look, with fine lines, uncluttered."
Mr. Kamemoto looks pleased. "I think the precision you've brought to this building is extraordinary," he says.
"To have that connection to the workmen is very important," Mr. Kamemoto says later. "If you can actually tap the passion that they have. No one likes to think that they are just a component part of a process. Inherently, people have pride in what they do."
The architects decided to use wood extensively on the interior after learning that Canadians do fine millwork. Light-coloured maple appears in wall panelling, doors, cabinets and furniture.
Early in the design stage, the Canadian architects toured Mr. Maki's buildings in Japan to look at materials and building techniques. "We wanted them to advise us what is possible," says Mr. Kamemoto. "We didn't want to go down a route asking for the impossible."
The firms applying to be construction managers visited Japan to view the workmanship in Mr. Maki's buildings. Mr. Kamemoto asked them: "Does this scare you? Do you think that's possible?"
Once construction was under way, the architects worked closely with the crew. "It comes a little bit from our culture," explains Mr. Kamemoto. "Back home in Japan we still have a very close bond with the contractor and, typically, when a project goes under construction the architect sets up an office on site and we work together through the entire construction process."
Still, "there are some areas where we are not really satisfied," says Mr. Maki. "Some people didn't read our drawings carefully so we wasted time and money. Some people did not honour their word. They said they would finish by a certain date and they didn't. That's a different culture. That's one reason construction was delayed." The building was supposed to be finished at the end of July.
Like the carpenters, the stone contractor, Gem Campbell of Ottawa, worked with great precision. "In a regular project, you live with a little more tolerance, whereas here they were very strict," says Diego Rota, a 66-year-old marble mechanic.
"This is high-end, very fine work. I told our shop not to send anything that doesn't fit."
The stone-cutters changed the settings on their machines to carve more finely, and they took more time.
"You can't achieve quality by being fast unless you overlook a few things," says Mr. Rota.
He and Mr. Kamemoto travelled together to Italy to choose the stone: blue lapis lazuli from Namibia for the outside terrace; limestone from Croatia for the courtyard; basaltina for the entrance. By ordering in person, they avoided "screw-ups" such as receiving the wrong material, says Mr. Rota.
The architects wanted travertine marble in the courtyard, but when Mr. Rota told them it didn't weather well in Canada, they searched for a substitute with the same creamy colour.
"Maki's office, they listen to the person with the trowel in their hand," says Mr. Cook. "That's rare in North America."
Construction in Canada is big business; 12 per cent of GDP. But the National Research Council says the sector suffers from inconsistent profitability and invests too little in capital, human resources and research and development.
"Adoption of innovative solutions in the sector is widely known to be difficult," it says.
And there is a growing labour crisis and skills shortage. In Ontario alone, the Construction Sector Council predicts a shortfall of 82,000 workers by 2015, due to retirement and increasing labour demands. Industry spokesmen say federal and provincial authorities have paid too little attention to problems in the industry.
Mr. Cook interviewed candidates prior to tendering the construction work. He asked: "Do you have the available tradespeople? What is your volume of work during the time we expect to be in construction?" He set the schedule accordingly.
"We're often-times not realistic enough in scheduling construction projects," says Mr. Cook. "We've just allowed more time because we know we have fewer people, and those fewer people can't work seven days a week, 24 hours a day."
Some 500 tradesmen worked on the building, trying to meet the exceptional requirements for accuracy. "In Canada there's a striving to be close," says Mr. Cook. "Here, everything lines up. The coordination of doing your roof parapet cap and making sure that joint lines up with the Neoparies joint on the exterior wall panel is not something you typically see in any other project.
"We used laser levels to set things up in janitor's rooms. There is no detail that Maki says doesn't matter. Every detail matters.
"There's nothing like it," he says. "I don't think I'll build one like it again."
Canadian clients aren't usually willing to pay a premium for materials and precision, he says. But that's not to say money was no object here.
"If we overspend, something else in the world that the Aga Khan is developing will suffer," says Mr. Cook. "That's not acceptable."
- - -
The official opening ceremony takes place today. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is to be among the 350 guests. Will the Aga Khan be pleased with the building?
"It should be modern and contemporary, but he also wants to have a certain Islamic ambience, particularly the interiors," says Mr. Maki. "I tried to interpret his vision as much as possible."
The building rests on a podium of black granite. The Neoparies cladding has a softly translucent surface like porcelain or marble. "We're pleasantly surprised with the installation of the Neoparies," says Mr. Kamemoto. "I think it even surpassed what we can get in Japan."
The building is 43.5 metres wide and 87 metres long, so it would just fit on a football field. Offices and meeting rooms surround the large courtyards. Mr. Maki says these two spaces create an "inner sanctuary somewhat separated from the outside world." The crystalline dome that vaults over the first of these courts gives a distinctive silhouette to the building.
The Aga Khan did not want security and a fence to characterize the approach to the building. Part of the site remains accessible as a landscaped park, and preserves a public path between Lowertown and Sussex Drive.
The underlying organization of the building is informed by the heritage of Islamic architecture. Mr. Kamemoto notes that the central courtyard at the Alhambra, the splendid 14th-century palace in Spain, must be discovered. "We felt that's what the building should do. From the outside it looks dignified, quiet and stately, but once you got inside there was a sense of discovery, which was the atrium and the courtyard."
To enter the new building from the ceremonial entrance off Sussex Drive, you cross an open forecourt to the shelter provided by the overhanging floor above. A terrace cuts into this floor, marking the location of the doors below.
The shadows made by this deep modelling set off the brilliance of the Neoparies. The vestibule leads into a hall, which opens into the atrium courtyard.
A floor of Canadian maple gives warmth and a note of welcoming domesticity to the moment of arrival. Maple strips make a pattern of 49 squares, a reference to the 49th Imam.
The space is filled with light and the play of shadows from the glazed roof. On your right the light streams in from a glass wall that joins the roof to the ground. To your left is a library.
Surrounding the atrium is a patterned screen of cast aluminum. It evokes the screens of carved marble and wood that filter light and view in historic Islamic architecture. Composed of 180 panels, the screen was made by Custom Aluminum Foundry, a family business in Cambridge, Ont. that makes sand castings for machine parts. This is their first work of art.
Continuing across the wood floor of the atrium, you have a view into the garden court. Its geometric layout recalls the chahar-bagh, or traditional Persian-Islamic walled garden, a representation of paradise.
Four paths intersect at the centre. Snow-dusted trees and shrubs stand in symmetrical rows in four raised planters. In winter, heaters in the floor will melt snow on the ground, leaving snow mounds on the planters.
"This will be the first Islamic garden with snow mounds," laughs Mr. Kamemoto.
Walking through the building there's an overall feeling of lightness and serenity. Furniture is either white or maple. Different types of glass have been combined to give the building an ethereal quality and varying degrees of transparency and opacity. This effect complements the dramatic play of solid and void between the courts and surrounding wings of offices.
A note of colour is provided by a wall of Venetian plaster in royal blue.
This essay in glass, the shifting translucence, luminosity and clarity that animate the building, is Mr. Maki's response to the crystal image, the metaphor of usefulness and beauty suggested by the Aga Khan.
Rock crystal was prized for these qualities and carved into vessels by the Aga Khan's ancestors, the Fatimids who founded Cairo in 969. "Rock crystal translucency seemed so remarkable a property that the stone was sometimes known as Busaq al-qamar, or 'Spirit of the Moon'," says Alnoor Merchant, of the Institute of Ismaili Studies in London, England.
Three other projects are underway in Canada: The Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa will foster policy and legislation to support the developing world. The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, designed by Maki and Associates, will house exceptional collections of Islamic art. An Ismaili cultural centre is also being built in Toronto.
Two weeks ago, Mr. Maki inspected the Delegation building. "It came out better than I expected."
The Aga Khan saw it at the same time. "He was very delighted," reports Mr. Maki.
Online: Tour Confederation Boulevard's new architectural masterpiece at ottawacitizen.com/photo galleries
Ismailis mark their ties to Canada with a monumental new building
By Don Cayo 12-05-2008 COMMENTS(0) Globalization: for better or worse
Filed under: Aga Khan Development Network, AKDN, Ismaili, Aga Khan
The profile of Ismailis in Canada – and the image presented to the world of the Aga Khan’s esteem for Canada – has been boosted by the opening of the Shia Muslim community’s first-ever permanent delegation building in Ottawa.
The Aga Khan himself returned to Canada for the landmark building’s opening less than two weeks after his official 50th jubilee tour of the country. And just the evening before the ceremony it was announced that it would be attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, despite the urgent and continuing political crisis in the nation’s capital.
My story on the opening – the last piece I expect to write on the basis of an exclusive interview with the Aga Khan on his earlier visit – is accessible here. A transcript of the entire interview, minus the short section on the new delegation building, is accessible here. And my earlier stories on the interview are linked to the blog entry here.
PRIME MINISTER HARPER MEETS WITH HIS HIGHNESS THE AGA KHAN
Joins the Aga Khan in opening new Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat
6 December 2008
Prime Minister Stephen Harper today met with His Highness, the Aga Khan, the 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims.
“For half a Century the Aga Khan has provided spiritual guidance for Ismailis and worked to improve the quality of life in some of the most vulnerable communities in the world,” said the Prime Minister. “His name has become synonymous with humanitarian aid and development in countries beset by conflict and poverty. Just as importantly he has worked tirelessly as a bridge-builder between faiths and cultures.”
The Prime Minister invited His Highness for a working luncheon at the Prime Minister’s 24 Sussex Drive residence.
The Prime Minister and the Aga Khan later jointly opened a new Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, the first of its kind in the world, which will serve as headquarters for the humanitarian efforts of the Aga Khan Development Network.
The Aga Khan is visiting Canada as part of his golden jubiliee as leader of the Shia Ismaili community. The Prime Minister highlighted the long history of Government co-operation between Canadians and the Ismaili Imamat including the construction of a new Global Centre for Pluralism that is being jointly funded by the Government of Canada and the Aga Khan Development Network.
“Canadians and the Ismaili are bonded by our shared values of tolerance, compassion, community service and pluralism,” said the Prime Minister. “By demonstrating that diverse congregations of the great faiths can co-exist and flourish peacefully here, we are building true unity in diversity.”
OTTAWA - The Aga Khan, the Ismaili Muslim spiritual leader, opened a new $50-million architectural landmark on Ottawa's famed Sussex Drive on Saturday.
The new building will be a link between the spiritual dimensions of Islam and the cultures of the West, the Aga Khan said.
"It affirms our intent to share, within a western setting, the best of Islamic life and heritage," he said. "It will be a site for robust dialogue, intellectual exchange and the forging of new partnerships" with the Canadian government, academics and international organizations.
Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, known as the Aga Khan, was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, which will serve as his office in Canada as well as a conference centre, and will be home to the Aga Khan's development agencies. The organization has partnership programs with the Canadian International Development Agency and several Canadian universities.
The event was attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a neighbour from just up the street.
Harper said the Canadian government shares a commitment to "tolerance, compassion and community service" with the Aga Khan Development Network.
"Social integration can occur without sacrificing cultural identity," he said of the Ismaili community in Canada. "We are proving that there can be unity in diversity."
Harper called the building an "architectural masterpiece," adding that "the work that will develop here will help lift the darkness of poverty."
The Aga Khan said his vision for the building was "a certain mystique, centred around the beautiful mysteries of rock crystal."
The building, featuring a vaulting glass roof with a crystalline structure and a high, domed glass ceiling, was designed by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki.
Guests at the opening ceremony included former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, several members of Parliament, diplomats, representatives from the Ismaili community and heads of the Aga Khan network agencies.
The Aga Khan said the Ismaili community has had strong links to Canada since it provided refuge to Ismaili Muslims when Idi Amin forced them to leave Uganda in the 1970s. He called Canada's international leadership "thoughtful, empathetic and avoiding both intellectual pretensions and dogmatic simplifications."
The Aga Khan is a British citizen, who divides his time between Switzerland and France.
He enjoys personal wealth thanks to family inheritance and business investments.
His philanthropic institutions, funded by his followers, spend about $600 million a year, mainly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The significance of the Aga Khan's status is rooted in the history of Islam.
The religion has two main divisions, Sunnism and Shiism. Ismaili Muslims are the second-largest Shia community. Their imams, or spiritual leaders, are regarded as direct descendants of Mohammed.
They have carried the title "Aga Khan" since the Shah of Iran conferred it in the 19th century, and "His Highness" since Queen Elizabeth granted the title in 1957. The current Aga Khan, now 71, became the 49th hereditary imam when he was a 20-year-old student at Harvard University.
OTTAWA-A new building on Sussex Drive will be a link between the spiritual dimensions of Islam and the cultures of the West, the Aga Khan said Saturday.
“It affirms our intent to share, within a western setting, the best of Islamic life and heritage,” he said. “It will be a site for robust dialogue, intellectual exchange and the forging of new partnerships” with the Canadian government, civil society and other international organizations.
Prince Karim Aga Khan IV, known as the Aga Khan, is the spiritual leader of the world’s Ismaili muslims, who number more than 15 million worldwide.
He was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, which will serve as his office in Canada, a conference centre and will be be home to the Aga Khan’s development agencies. The organization has partnership programs with CIDA and several Canadian universities.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the Canadian government shares with the Aga Khan Development Network a commitment to “tolerance, compassion and community service.
“Social integration can occur without sacrificing cultural identity,” he said of the Ismaili community in Canada. “We are proving that there can be unity in diversity.”
Mr. Harper called the building an “architectural masterpiece,” adding that “the work that will develop here will help lift the darkness of poverty.”
The Aga Khan said his vision for the building was “a certain mystique, centred around the beautiful mysteries of rock crystal.” It was designed by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki and it features a high, domed glass ceiling.
Guests at the opening ceremony included former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, members of Parliament, diplomats, representatives from the Ismaili community and heads of the Aga Khan network agencies.
Mohamed Manji, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada, welcomes Mawlana Hazar Imam and Princess Zahra to Ottawa. Photo: Gary Otte
Commencing the second leg of his Golden Jubilee visit to Canada, Mawlana Hazar Imam arrived in Ottawa this afternoon, accompanied by Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim, Prince Hussain and Princess Khaliya.
Prince Amyn and Prince Rahim, who travelled separately, stopped over in Toronto and visited the site of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto and the Aga Khan Museum, on Wynford Drive.
On Saturday, Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, will officially inaugurate the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat building. Members of Hazar Imam’s family will also attend the ceremony.
Additional photos are available in the gallery. Also see the video of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s arrival in Ottawa. Further details on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Canada will continue to be posted at TheIsmaili.org.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mrs. Harper
Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin and Mr. McCardle
Madame Adrienne Clarkson and Mr. John Ralston Saul
Ladies and Gentlemen
Je voudrais commencer mes commentaires aujourd’hui en vous souhaitant la bienvenue dans le nouveau bâtiment de la Délégation de l’imamat ismaili à Ottawa. Nous sommes ravis que vous participiez à cette journée importante pour nous.
My warmest thanks go out to all of you for being part of this wonderful occasion. I particularly want to thank the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper, for the honour of his presence, at a time of immense global challenges for those who bear the responsibilities of national leadership.
Let me also express my gratitude to the former Governor General of Canada, Madame Adrienne Clarkson. She was present at the Foundation Stone Ceremony for this building - and she thoughtfully predicted then, that this edifice would not be just another monumental structure, but would, both in its unity and its transparency, represent, as she put it, “the way in which the world can work when we are all at our best.”
I am also deeply grateful to the National Capital Commission and to all those who helped to design, construct and decorate this Delegation building, including all those who so generously volunteered their energies. This is the third important new Canadian building with which I will have been associated over the last five years. It affirms our intent to share, within a western setting, the best of Islamic life and heritage. This new Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, like the Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum to be built in Toronto, reflects our conviction that buildings can do more than simply house people and programmes. They can also reflect our deepest values, as great architecture captures esoteric thought in physical form.
When I invited Professor Maki, a master of form and light, to design this building, I made a suggestion to him - one that I hoped would help connect this place symbolically to the Faith of Islam. The suggestion I made focused on creating a certain mystique, centred around the beautiful mysteries of rock crystal.
Why rock crystal? Because of its translucency, its multiple planes, and the fascination of its colours - all of which present themselves differently as light moves around them. The hues of rock crystal are subtle, striking and widely varied - for they can be clear ormilky, white, or rose coloured, or smoky, or golden, or black.
It is because of these qualities that rock crystal seems to be such an appropriate symbol of the profound beauty and the ever-unfolding mystery of Creation itself – and the Creator. As the Holy Quran so powerfully affirms, “Allah is the Creator and the Master of the heavens and the earth.” And then it continues: “Everything in the heavens and on earth, and everything between them, and everything beneath the soil, belongs to Him.”
But in Islamic thought, as in this building, beauty and mystery are not separated from intellect - in fact, the reverse is true. As we use our intellect to gain new knowledge about Creation, we come to see even more profoundly the depth and breadth of its mysteries. We explore unknown regions beneath the seas - and in outer space. We reach back over hundreds of millions of years in time. Extra-ordinary fossilised geological specimens seize our imagination - palm leaves, amethyst flowers, hedgehog quartz, sea lilies, chrysanthemum and a rich panoply of shells. Indeed, these wonders are found beneath the very soil on which we tread - in every corner of the world - and they connect us with far distant epochs and environments.
And the more we discover, the more we know, the more we penetrate just below the surface of our normal lives - the more our imagination staggers. Just think for example what might lie below the surfaces of celestial bodies all across the far flung reaches of our universe. What we feel, even as we learn, is an ever-renewed sense of wonder, indeed, a powerful sense of awe – and of Divine inspiration.
Using rock crystal’s irridescent mystery as an inspiration for this building, does indeed provide an appropriate symbol of the Timelessness, the Power and the Mystery of Allah as the Lord of Creation.
What we celebrate today can thus be seen as a new creative link between the spiritual dimensions of Islam and the cultures of the West. Even more particularly, it represents another new bridge between the peoples of Islam and the peoples of Canada.
Many of you may remember that my personal involvement with Canada dates back more than three decades when, at a time of great upheaval in Uganda, many members of the Ismaili community and others found here a new home in which they could quickly re-build their lives. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and expressing habits of mind and spirit which have long been central to the Canadian character, this country provided a welcoming haven to those who had been victimised by history.
Since that time, Ismailis from other parts of the world have also come to Canada, contributing not only to Canadian society, but also to the diverse mosaic of the global Ismaili community.
One of the principal reasons, I believe, for the great rapport between the Ismaili and Canadian communities through the years is our shared commitment to a common ethical framework - and especially to the ideals of pluralism. By this I mean not only social pluralism, which embraces a diversity of ethnic and religious groups, but also pluralism in our thinking about government, and pluralism in our approach to other institutions. One of the reasons governments have failed in highly diverse settings around the world is that dogma has too often been enshrined at the price of more flexible, pluralistic approaches to political and economic challenges.
Within Islam itself, we can see a broad sense of pluralism, including a variety of spiritual interpretations, and a diversity of governments and social institutions.
The spirit of pluralism, at its base, is a response to the realities of diversity – a way of reconciling difference on the one hand with cooperation and common purpose on the other. It is an attitude, a way of thinking, which regards our differences not as threats but as gifts - as occasions for learning, stretching, growing - and at the same time, as occasions for appreciating anew the beauties of one’s own identity.
The challenge of pluralism is particularly important for those who are called upon to lead diversified communities and to act in diversified environments. It is a challenge to which Canadians have responded nobly through the years - and it is also a challenge which has been central to our work through the Aga Khan Development Network, what we callAKDN.
The AKDN’s principal focus, as you know, has been the under-served populations of Central and South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Our approach has observed the principles of neutrality and pragmatism, but this has not always been an easy matter. Turbulence and discontinuity have characterised these regions, including the transition from colonial rule, the struggles of the Cold War, the tensions of the nuclear age, the rise of new nationalisms - of both the right and the left, as well as revolutions in communications and transportation which have so dramatically increased encounters among different peoples. Our Network has inevitably been drawn into a tangled variety of social and cultural contexts - including highly fragile, conflictual and post-conflictual situations. Our response has always been to focus on the pursuit of pluralistic progress.
Even against the most daunting challenges, social and economic progress can and must be a shared experience, based on a cosmopolitan ethic and nurtured by a spirit of genuine partnership.
When we have talked of development in this context over the years, we have always found responsive interlocutors in Canada. We recognise together the interdependence of economic progress on one hand and inclusive governmental structures on the other. We affirm together the centrality of communication and education in any progressive formula. We both embrace the interdependent role of various social sectors - private and governmental and voluntary - including the institutions of pluralistic civil society.
For the last quarter century, Canada, especially through CIDA, has been actively collaborating with the Aga Khan Development Network to support sustainable development in marginalised communities in Africa and in Asia. In the course of this work we have seen at first hand Canadian global leadership at its best – thoughtful, empathetic and avoiding both intellectual pretensions and dogmatic simplifications.
Our work together in northern Pakistan is one rich chapter in this story. Our newer efforts in places like Tajikistan and Afghanistan have opened further horizons. We could also point directly to early childhood programmes in Africa. Or we could speak of our projects in higher education, working with Canadian universities such as McMaster, McGill, University of Toronto, University of Alberta, and University of Calgary.
The establishment of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat represents yet another step on a long path. It will give us another platform for strengthening and extending our relationship. It will be a site for robust dialogue, intellectual exchange, and the forging of new partnerships –with government, and with the institutions of civil society and the private sector of Canada and so many other countries. To be able to site this building on Confederation Boulevard, in close proximity to your major national institutions as well as representations from abroad, is itself a symbol of the outgoing, interactive spirit which must guide our response to global challenges.
It is our prayer that the establishment of the Delegation will provide a strongly anchored, ever-expanding opportunity for rich collaboration - in the devoted service of ancient values, in the intelligent recognition of new realities, and in a common commitment to our shared dreams of a better world.
The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat on Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Canada. Photo: Gary Otte
Mawlana Hazar Imam and the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, officially inaugurated the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat today. The opening ceremony followed a luncheon meeting between Hazar Imam and the Prime Minister, at the Prime Minister’s official 24 Sussex Drive residence.
The ceremony was held in the glass-domed atrium of the Delegation building in the presence of Prince Amyn, Princess Zahra, Prince Rahim, Prince Hussain and Princess Khaliya. The 350 guests also included senior government ministers, former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, several members of Parliament, diplomats, senior leaders of the global Jamat as well as heads of various AKDN agencies and institutions.
In his address, Mawlana Hazar Imam remarked that “the establishment of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat represents yet another step on a long path. It will give us another platform for strengthening and extending our relationship. It will be a site for robust dialogue, intellectual exchange, and the forging of new partnerships — with government, and with the institutions of civil society and the private sector of Canada and so many other countries.”
Prime Minister Harper thanked Mawlana Hazar Imam for establishing the Ismaili Imamat’s first Delegation building in the world in Ottawa. He commented that for half a century, Mawlana Hazar Imam has provided spiritual guidance for Ismailis and worked to improve the quality of life in some of the most vulnerable communities in the world.
“Your name has become synonymous with humanitarian aid and development in countries beset by conflict and poverty,” said the Prime Minister. “Just as importantly you have worked tirelessly as a bridge-builder between faiths and cultures.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam and Prime Minister Harper then unveiled a plaque commemorating the opening of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat.
Also see AKDN’s coverage of the event, including additional photos and Mawlana Hazar Imam’s speech, as well as the press release issued by the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada.
Additional photos are available in the Delegation opening gallery. Further details on Mawlana Hazar Imam’s visit to Canada will continue to be posted at TheIsmaili.org.
Mawlana Hazar Imam waves as he prepares to depart Canada, completing his Golden Jubilee visit to the country. Photo: Gary Otte
Mawlana Hazar Imam departed Ottawa today, following the inauguration of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa yesterday. Hazar Imam’s departure marked the completion of his Golden Jubilee visit to Canada.
Additional photos are available in the Delegation opening gallery and the main Canada visit gallery.
Transcript of the PM's speech at the opening of the DII
Peace, Prosperity and Equality Through Pluralism
6 December 2008
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Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,
Thank-you your Highness for your kind introduction.
Ya ali madat. It is a great pleasure to see you again. May I also say
what a great pleasure it is to welcome your family to Canada.
Your Highness, though we met for the first time only three years ago, I
feel like I have known you a long time. My long-time university
roommate, Alnoor Lakhani, is an Ismaili, and he kept a picture of you in
our room. He told me much about you, but I have to admit that when I
think of that picture and see you today, I still have one question: how
is it that you never age?
Off the top, your Highness, let me congratulate you on your Golden
Jubilee as Imam of the world's Shia Ismaili Muslims. For half a century
you have provided spiritual guidance for Ismailis and worked to improve
the quality of life in their communities.
Your name has also become synonymous with humanitarian aid and
development in countries beset by conflict and poverty.
And perhaps most importantly of all, you have acted as a bridge-builder
between faiths and cultures. In a world still riven by sectarian strife,
this is very important work indeed.
Your highness, I am honoured to be with you today on the occasion of the
opening of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat. And on behalf of the
government and people of Canada, I want to thank you for choosing to
build the Delegation - the world's first - in our nation's capital.
This architectural masterpiece is a spectacular addition to our
magnificent mile of history here in Ottawa. And like a giant quartz
crystal plucked from the Canadian Shield, this beautiful atrium
illuminates the openness and timeless purpose of the Delegation. The
work done here will help lift the darkness of poverty, ignorance and
inequality that afflicts so many in our troubled world.
Your Highness, Canada is a fitting choice for the Delegation. Our
country and the IsmailI Imamat are bonded by our shared values;
tolerance, compassion, community service and, especially, our devotion
to pluralism - the essential ingredient for harmony in our modern,
We are also bonded by a long and fruitful relationship. Canada has been
providing generous support for the health, education and economic
development work of the Aga Khan Development Network for over 25 years.
And, of course, we are bonded by the tens of thousands of Ismailis who
call Canada home. Beginning with their flight from brutal repression in
Uganda, Ismailis have adapted quickly and successfully to life in
Canada, becoming leaders in our communities. Their success has
demonstrated that in a genuinely pluralistic society, social integration
can occur without sacrificing cultural identity.
In a very real way, this glorious building will serve as a permanent
Canadian monument to that success. In its modern, state-of-the-art
design and essentially secular purpose, the work done here will be
infused with the ancient traditions and tenets of the IsmailI faith, as
embodied by your tireless efforts to teach the world there is more that
unites than divides us.
This is the IsmailI way, as your Highness noted when you initiated the
delegation here in 2005, and I quote: "Ismailis are a transnational
community who are, first and foremost, active and loyal citizens of the
countries where they live."
So it is with the Ismailis of Canada. The blossoming of the Ismaili
community in Canada offers a ray of hope to the world. By demonstrating
that diverse congregations of the great faiths can co-exist and flourish
peacefully here, we are proving that there indeed can be unity in
It is crucial that this message be heard in countries and regions where
religious persecution and sectarian violence destroy the lives of
innocent human beings. This message will be transmitted from Canada to
the world through the programs, policy and diplomacy that will emanate
from this Delegation of the IsmailI Imamat.
These efforts will complement the work of the Global Centre for
Pluralism, also here in Ottawa, which was initiated last year as a
partnership of our government and the Aga Khan Development Network.
Working together, your Highness, we are effectively making Canada the
headquarters of the global effort to foster peace, prosperity and
equality through pluralism.
Sectarianism has been part of the human condition for millennia; it will
not easily give way to pluralism and harmony. But this vision has been
the inspiring lifelong goal of the Aga Khan.
And when it is achieved, ladies and gentlemen, I believe the world will
look a lot like Canada.
The Stately Launch of the Ismaili Delegation
by Jeff Davis
A full hour before he showed up, a throng of more than 100 of his followers waited patiently on Sussex Drive Saturday afternoon, enduring the cold for the chance of a mere glimpse of their spiritual leader.
When the Aga Khan arrived at the opening ceremony of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, accompanied by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen, a great cheer arose from the crowd outside.
This in turn set off a round of excited giggling from the throngs of dignitaries inside the dramatic main atrium of the delegation.
In his remarks, Mr. Harper said that though they met just three years ago, he felt that he has known the Aga Khan for a long time. In his dorm room at the University of Calgary, he explained, an Ismaili roommate had a photo of him on the wall.
"How is it you never age?" Mr. Harper asked the princely spiritual leader who has reigned now for a half century.
Many Ismaili power players from the Canadian Government turned out for the event, including former Canadian ambassador to Afghanistan Arif Lalani, who flew all the way from London, England for the event.
Other Ismailis from DFAIT and CIDA were also present, many of them volunteering for the grand opening because they couldn't secure an invite.
Also present was another high-placed Ismaili, Alykhan Velshi, who serves as Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's director of communications and has played a role in the government's outreach to minority voters.
Mr. Velshi joked that he scored some major points with his parents by getting them on the guest list for the historic opening.
After unveiling a commemorative plaque, the Aga Khan waded into the throng of people waiting to meet him.
From the government were Transport Minister John Baird, Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, Minister of State for Status of Women Helena Guergis and her new husband, defeated Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer.
From the bureaucratic ranks were David Mulroney, chief of the PCO Afghan task force, his CIDA counterpart Stephen Wallace, and former deputy minister of foreign affairs Peter Harder. Also present was Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin, former ambassador to Washington Derek Burney, former Liberal foreign minister Bill Graham, former ambassador to the UN Allan Rock, and Herb Gray, the longest serving MP in Canadian history.
Also on the scene were the Aga Khan's personal friends, former governor general Adrienne Clarkson and her spouse, writer John Ralston Saul. The two backed the Aga Khan to become an honourary companion of the Order of Canada, an honour given to those who have demonstrated the highest degree of merit to Canada and humanity on the international scene.
Showing off the new building was Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, who designed the delegation, his first work in Canada.
The Aga Khan said the delegation will be a home base for the Aga Khan Development Network.
Diplomats had no shortage of news to report back to their foreign ministries this week, as the Conservative government narrowly dodged being deposed by the Liberal-NDP-Bloc coalition.
Chatter House heard many a diplomat this week say they had reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the architect of this whole mess, sparking it with a hyper-partisan swipe at the public funding of political parties.
One diplomat said he reported back that the Conservatives have a young, brash Cabinet lacking the guidance of an older, wiser eminence grise to keep them from steering into the ditch. Such potential wise men, like former Progressive Conservative PMs Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark, he noted, are now at loggerheads with the government.
A few also said they saw such a coalition clash coming a mile off, based simply on the numbers held by each party in the House.
Few, however, saw anything resembling a "crisis," but rather the normal workings of a parliamentary democracy.
Imperial Visit Next Summer
Japanese Ambassador Tsuneo Nishida announced last week that Japanese Emperor Akihito and his consort Michiko Shoda will visit Canada next summer.
Mr. Nishida announced the visit at a reception held in honour of the emperor's birthday last week at the Chateau Laurier.
Out for the event, and perhaps the excellent eats, were Japanese-Canadian CIDA Minister Bev Oda, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, Parliamentary Secretary for Trade Gerald Keddy and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Deepak Obhrai.
Diplomatic Forum Going Ahead
After being delayed by the election, the yearly Diplomatic Forum is set to take place from December 15 to 18. It will be held in Quebec City at the Chateau Frontenac hotel.
news release from Minister Kenney<BR><BR><A href="http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Citizenship-And-Immigration-Canada-929781.html">http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Citizenship-And-Immigration-Canada-929781.html</A>
BRAVO TO ALL BADGE AND NON BADGE VOLUNTEERS!!!
SOMEONE IS ALWAYS WATCHING, APPRECIATING AND CARING FOR YOU.
kEEP IT UP
FORWARDED AS RECEIVED:
Ashad is with the Police Force in Ottawa...worth reading
I just wanted to share an email which was sent out by one of our
volunteer leads for transport, involved with the planning for the Darbar
and the DII (Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat) visit. Please read the
last part of the email (written by Ashad) of his experience with Mowla
Ashad has pretty much been with Hazar Imam since he arrived in Ottawa on November 18... and has been involved with HI private security detail for most of his meetings and ventures until he departed from Toronto after Sunday's Darbar to go to Calgary. And then again since Friday December 5th when Hazar Imam arrived in Ottawa for the opening of the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat building.
In Ashad's email to Nimet (who was the coordiantor for DII) he is
describing what happenned just before Hazar Imam left for the airport
for his departure on Sunday.
This was completely unexpected.. the volunteers were waiting in the
Atrium for Hazar Imam to come down from his residence and get into his
Motorcade... but when he came down the elevators he walked across the
Arium to where the volunteers were standing and... well you read the
I just wanted to drop a quick note to all of you
(Zia/Rehan/Aleem/Mumtaz/Karim - if I have missed anyone, please make
sure that they receive this email) to say thank you for allowing me to
work with you and for being a part of the past two visits by Mowlana
Hazar Imam and the delegates that participated in the events. Also
serviced by our team were the "out of town" volunteers and groups
that assisted with the DII event - I know they truly appreciated our
accomodations of their transportation needs.
Your dedication and efforts were appreciated by all and praised by many
- thank you for delivering on our goals of "White Glove Service" to
all that were a part of the events - you all went above and beyond and have once again raised the bar.
To the team leads - thank you for the opportunity to learn from you and
for taking control of all aspects of our service delivery.
I would also like to share a story from Ashad Jiwa which describes how
Hazar Imam feels about all of us that do the "behind the scenes" work
that we sometimes feels goes unappreciated - please know that the person that matters the most does recognize our work and appreciates it -
please read on below and once again - THANK YOU ALL! -->
Please read and share the below beautiful account of Ashad's experience
with Hazar Imam. Please send this to your teams and ask them to share
with their families. The sacrifices you have all made and the
sacrifices of your families have not gone un-noticed. We pray that
Mowla accepts your seva always and the seva of your families. Amen.
Sent: Sun Dec 07 16:25:27 2008
Subject: DII this morning
Hi Nimet, hope all is well.
I am sure that you've probably already received this message but just in
case, I really wanted to share this with you and the event planning
I was at the Delegation building this morning organizing the Police
Escort for Malawna Hazar Imam's motorcade. I was fortunate enough to be present when Mawlana Hazar Imam addressed approx. 10-15 volunteers.
The experience was so emotional that the following is just a brief
summary of what I can remember and share with you.
We were all lined up in the Atrium, Mawlana Hazar Imam came down from the 2nd level, came out from the VIP room and walked towards the
As He approached the volunteers, He said "What's with this line,
standing like birds on a wire, come closer come closer".
At this point, I remember we were all around Him in a semi circle, He
thanked the volunteers for all the hard work, He said "I know that all
the hard work is done behind the scenes, the event last night was
magnificent, magnificent." He talked about the leadership present at
the event and how they were so impressed with the event.
(At this point, I really thought about your team and how hard all of
them work and the countless hours they put into organizing the event.)
He mentioned that He is often asked how He pulls this off, and He tells
everyone that He has a "secret weapon" referring to His volunteers.
He gave His blessings to all the volunteers and then gave special blessings
to their families who have also supported the volunteers.
He then ended by saying:
"Please take my blessings back to your families; please don't forget
to take my blessings to your family." And He then said Kanavadan three
Nimet, I would really appreciate if you could share this with the core
team as they really deserve it.
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