It is a particularly happy day, for me, that we are extending this partnership, strengthening it, giving it new opportunities, in areas of development needs that are essential — young children, isolated peoples, post conflict situations. So we have a partner, a wonderful partner, who works with us not in the easy, comfortable parts of the world, but who works with us where there are challenges, where there are difficulties, where people fight, and where people seek to develop just a simple life of survival. And that is a unique partnership because it’s a partnership for people. It’s a partnership for people in difficulty. It’s a partnership where imagination is essential if you want to build strong programmes.

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Thank you, Prime Minister, for those most generous and gracious words. Thank you, also, for the unique honour in asking me to address your Parliament yesterday. It was a moving day for me because I was talking to one of the most important partners that we have in any part of the world.

When you do the work that I do, in so many different countries, you look at who are your partners. And the fact that all around the world, wherever we work, every time we show the Canadian flag, there is applause, gratitude and happiness.

It is a particularly happy day, for me, that we are extending this partnership, strengthening it, giving it new opportunities, in areas of development needs that are essential — young children, isolated peoples, post conflict situations. So we have a partner, a wonderful partner, who works with us not in the easy, comfortable parts of the world, but who works with us where there are challenges, where there are difficulties, where people fight, and where people seek to develop just a simple life of survival. And that is a unique partnership because it’s a partnership for people. It’s a partnership for people in difficulty. It’s a partnership where imagination is essential if you want to build strong programmes.

I want to say also, that in the next months, Toronto will come up on our radar screen of great cities around the world. Today I have in front of me the best of civil society and I want you to know how happy and proud I am that, in a few months time, we will open a new Ismaili Centre here in Toronto and a new museum. What’s important to me, however, is not only what those two buildings represent for Toronto, but funnily enough, it’s the park around those buildings. I’m not a particularly vigorous green, (1) but I do believe that parks have an enormous importance.

We have built parks in post-conflict situations. We rehabilitated the Bagh-i Babur in Kabul, [Afghanistan]. We have worked, in Bamako, [Mali], in Delhi, [India], in Cairo, [Egypt], in Khorog in eastern Tajikistan. And what have we learnt from that experience? We have learnt that civil society is built around the cement of different peoples who come together in places of peace and joy. And I hope today that all the people of Toronto will feel that the park that will be around these buildings is their park! (Emphasis original)

As time goes by, our partnership will grow and I want to thank the Prime Minister, and his government. I want to thank all Canadians for the wonderful partnership that they have given us which is built not on opportunistic situations. No. It’s built on a deep sharing of values.

Thank you, Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan IV

NOTES

  1. The phrase “I’m not a particularly vigorous green” has been excluded from TheIsmaili.org video of the event.

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