OTTAWA, January 13, 2012 — His Highness the Aga Khan was today awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa for his service to humanity.
In his welcome remarks, Allan Rock, President of the University of Ottawa, addressed the Aga Khan, saying “we see Your Highness’ presence today as a call to action for all in our university community who seek to serve humanity.” He described the Aga Khan as an exceptional man who has used his own faith background to speak directly to the goodness in all people.
The degree was awarded at a special convocation, presided over by Huguette Labelle, in what was her last official event following an 18-year tenure as Chancellor of the University of Ottawa. Chancellor Labelle noted “One of the privileges of being Chancellor is the opportunity to recognize individuals who have shown outstanding leadership and an exemplary commitment to service to others.” Recognizing the Aga Khan’s global achievements, she said: “His work has bettered the lives of people and communities around the world".
Addressing the convocation, which was attended by members of the University Senate and Faculty, leaders from various levels of government, and members of the diplomatic corps, the Aga Khan spoke about governance and public policy, and, specifically, “the difficulty of establishing workable constitutional systems - especially in countries with less experience in democratic governance”. He noted that “constitutional arrangements should respect inherited traditions, ensure fairness to minority communities, respond to rural as well as urban concerns and underwrite equitable opportunity for a better life. Reconciling the global and the local, the urban and the rural, the regional and the national, is a formidable challenge - one that calls for the best of our intellectual energies and consistent fine-tuning over time.”
Commending the work of the University of Ottawa, and Canada, the Aga Khan said: “… this University’s global effectiveness is reinforced by the high regard in which Canada is held as a valued international partner.” He went on to explain: “In my experience, a country’s standing in our contemporary world is no longer recognised by what it can achieve for itself, but by what it can do for others. In this context, Canada has truly become a great, world power.”
His Highness the Aga Khan is the forty-ninth hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. He assumed the office of the Imamat in July 1957, and since then has worked to improve living conditions and foster social, cultural, and economic opportunities for men and women in the developing world. The agencies of the AKDN, which he has established over the past 45 years, encompass foundations, universities and programs in 30 countries, including Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
New programmes established in Canada include the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto (due to open in 2013), which exhibits art relating to the intellectual, cultural, artistic and religious heritage of Islamic communities, and the Global Centre for Pluralism, a collaboration with the Government of Canada that is founded on the premise that tolerance, openness and understanding towards the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are essential to the very survival of an interdependent world.
For further information, please contact:
Director of Public Affairs, Aga Khan Foundation Canada
Telephone: +1 (613) 237 2532 ext 120
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