Ismaili tradition of voluntary service and contributions to Ontario recognised by province’s Premier
Premier McGuinty addresses a gathering of civic and Jamati leaders on 29 April at Headquarters Jamatkhana in Toronto. Photo: Ismaili Council for Ontario / Zahir Daya
“We’re all better off because the Ismaili-Canadian community calls Ontario home,” remarked the Honourable Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario.
The Premier spoke on 29 April at a gathering of Ismaili institutional and youth leaders at Headquarters Jamatkhana in Toronto. Recognising the long-standing relationship between the Jamat and the province, and the contributions that Ismailis have made to Ontario and Canada, he was joined by Ontario Ministers Kathleen Wynne and Charles Sousa, as well as Members of Provincial Parliament Reza Moridi and Michael Coteau.
Mohamed Manji, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada and Karim Sunderji, President of the Ismaili Council for Ontario, welcomed the Premier and other distinguished guests.
Presidents Manji and Sunderji discuss the progress of the Aga Khan Museum with Premier McGuinty. Photo: Ismaili Council for Ontario / Zahir Daya
“Our values converge as Canadians and as Shia Muslims,” said President Manji. “Compassion, peace, tolerance, upholding the dignity of individuals, and a commitment to social justice are a few of the values that are embedded in Islam and should be our duty to safeguard as citizens.”
Acknowledging these common values, notably of caring for those less fortunate and taking care of one another, Premier McGuinty said, “your community already shows these qualities. I’m always impressed about how we find these characteristics here, and in all your accomplishments and good works. We’re all better off thanks to your leadership.”
Themes of pluralism and partnerships featured prominently, but the afternoon was more than just a meeting of civic stewards and Ismaili leadership. It brought together individuals who had a long-standing history of working for the common good.
Ismaili volunteers and young leaders greet Premier Dalton McGuinty. Photo: Ismaili Council for Ontario / Zahir Daya
The Premier noted that Ontario benefits from the modesty, humility, and patience exemplified by Mawlana Hazar Imam, which the Ismaili community puts forward. He admired “…the spirit of entrepreneurship, meritocratic leadership across professions, vocations and trades, and the ethic of service towards others present amongst Ismailis.”
He pointed at the longstanding relationship between his own alma mater, McMaster University, and the Aga Khan University as an example of the partnerships that have taken shape between civic institutions and the Aga Khan Development Network over the past decades. These relationships continue and are being strengthened by the new projects being developed in Ontario.
Premier McGuinty stated that he was looking forward to the completion of the Ismaili Centre, Toronto, and the Aga Khan Museum on Wynford Drive, not only for their architectural presence in the province, but also because of their role in “promoting mutual understanding across cultures.”
The Premier concluded his address by presenting certificates to President Manji and President Sunderji, in appreciation of the contributions of the Jamat in Ontario. The certificates read:
“The principles of community spirit, peace, respect for human dignity and mutual understanding – ideals promoted by His Highness the Aga Khan – play a central role in the lives of Ismaili Canadians… you reflect these values each and every day through your hard work in supporting humanitarian causes and through your exemplary commitment to volunteerism. Know that your good work does much to further strengthen our society.”