Knowledge in its purest form is often abrasive. When this knowledge comes into [developing countries’] societies it creates difficulties, creates reactions because the societies are not prepared for pure knowledge. What Canada has done is it has humanised that knowledge.

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The leader of the world’s 15 million Ismaili Muslims says Canada’s pluralism is a model to the world. The Aga Khan thanked Canada for welcoming Ismailis, a moderate group within the Shia wing of Islam, who were forced to flee persecution and conflict in their own countries over the years.

Canada has been the country which has been most generous, most thoughtful, most helpful in bringing people to Canada from these difficult backgrounds, offering them a new opportunity … to live in a society which is pluralist, which is conscious of quality, which is conscious of human development and human values (he told a luncheon group Tuesday)….

Canada not only sheltered Ismailis who escaped persecution in countries such as Uganda in the 1970s, he said, but allowed them to prosper so that some could return home, bringing Canadian values with them.

You have given them the wherewithal to return to their countries in due course and bring back to Africa, bring back to Asia … the pluralism, the values of Canada, the knowledge society that you have created here in Canada.

He said he sometimes jokes that more and more Ismaili leaders around the world are Canadian.

You don’t have a colonialist history but you are colonising the Aga Khan Development Network.

One of the unique traits Canadian Ismailis bring back is an ability to promote knowledge needed to become globally competitive in a way that does not threaten traditional societies in many developing countries, he said.

Knowledge in its purest form is often abrasive. When this knowledge comes into these societies it creates difficulties, creates reactions because the societies are not prepared for pure knowledge. What Canada has done is it has humanised that knowledge.

Canada, he said, continues to be a partner on common issues such as early-childhood development, how traditional societies can work in a modern environment and pluralist government based on merit, not manipulation.

Golden Jubilee Souvenir Book

There are so many areas in which I want to express today our gratitude to Canada, for the wonderful things that you have done for us in the past, the wonderful things that I see ahead and to tell you that Canada is a partner of choice for us, has been and will continue to be.

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