Ottawa, Canada, 6 June 2005 - His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Ismaili Muslims and founder of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), was today invested as an honorary Companion of the Order of Canada in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation. The ceremony was presided over by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Governor General of Canada.
In presenting the honour to the Aga Khan, the Governor General said “I have been deeply impressed that you have been able to bring to everything you do, a generosity, importantly, a curiosity, an intelligence and above all, a deep compassion for other human beings.” “To do what you must with what you have is a lesson we must all learn,” she added.
The Aga Khan was invested as an honorary Companion, the Order of Canada’s highest formal civilian tribute, “in recognition of his life of generosity, of thoughtful stewardship, and of benevolent spiritual direction,” said the Governor General. “He is part of a very tiny group of international figures to whom our country pays its highest respects,” she added.
The Order of Canada is the centrepiece of Canada’s Honours System and recognizes people in all sectors of Canadian society. Their contributions are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and made a difference to this country. The Order of Canada’s motto is Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam, meaning, “They desire a better country. Other Companions of the Order of Canada include Nelson Mandela, Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Vaclav Hável.
The citation issued in February 2005 highlighted the achievements of the Aga Khan: “Personifying cherished Canadian values, His Highness the Aga Khan has devoted his life to protecting the environment and alleviating human suffering due to poverty. Imam of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims since 1957, he has guided the spiritual growth of his followers, teaching compassion and tolerance by example. In 1967, he launched his foundation, the Aga Khan Development Network, with branches in countries around the world, including Canada. Recognizing our nation’s caring spirit, he cites Canada as a role model for the world and has selected Ottawa as the home of a new global centre for pluralism.”
During his visit to Canada, the Aga Khan will meet with the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Paul Martin, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women, the Honourable Liza Frulla, as well as the Minister of International Cooperation, the Honourable Aileen Carroll. He will then travel to Toronto and Vancouver to meet members of the Ismaili community.
For further information, please contact:
Department of Public Affairs
Secretariat of His Highness the Aga Khan
The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) is a group of private, non-denominational development agencies whose mandates range from the fields of health and education to architecture, culture, rural development and the promotion of private-sector enterprise. Its agencies and institutions, working together, seek to empower communities and individuals, often in disadvantaged circumstances, to improve living conditions and opportunities, especially in countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Central Asia and the Middle East. In Canada, the Aga Khan Foundation has partnered with CIDA and other development agencies in support projects in Asia and Africa for over 20 years.