Well thank you very much and welcome everyone.
I’d like to begin by joining President Turpin and Her Honour, by acknowledging that we are all here on the traditional territory of Treaty Six and also to recognize the Metis people of Alberta who share a very deep connection with Islam that we are very, very, effectively celebrating here today.
It is a great honour to welcome you, your Highness, back to Alberta. It is wonderful to see you again and it’s a pleasure to be here with so many other distinguished guests including Their Honours, President Turpin and our many distinguished guests in the audience today, as we celebrate this exceptionally generous gift.
Years of hard, thoughtful work have produced extraordinary results and as this garden matures, it will become more beautiful with every passing year, if you can imagine that, because it is already rather stunning and jaw-dropping really.
You can say the same thing, quite frankly, about this region, and our province. There is a trend at work. The capital region is steadily becoming an even better place for people to work, to live and play, bringing new jobs, businesses and family attractions.
The Royal Alberta Museum, the biggest museum in Western Canada, just opened its doors and it will bring exhibits and visitors from around the world. On a slightly different track, in a few weeks we will be hosting the Grey Cup. And those are just a few of the fun things to name that are exciting, that are happening here in this area.
But now, we have one of the most elegant and beautiful gardens in Canada, and I would suggest, maybe the world. It is a tremendous addition to one of the country’s best universities. The University of Alberta already has a great research space and the Botanic Garden is a gorgeous oasis that educates and inspires visitors. Anyone considering a trip to the region just got yet another big reason to come here.
This garden is also a sign of Alberta’s welcome to the world. This is a living testament to a province where differences are valued and diversity thrives. And Alberta is genuinely a stronger place because of those differences. In Alberta, we don’t care who you love, where you worship or what the colour of your skin is. We respect and we celebrate our differences.
Alberta’s Ismaili community is a great example of that. Take for instance the celebrations for Ismaili CIVIC Day, which kick-started a whole year of volunteering and philanthropy among Ismailis, Canada-wide. It’s more evidence of this community turning beliefs into action.
We want all newcomers to Alberta to find the same success and we are helping them to do that. One way is by standing alongside people of all backgrounds to fight against racism. And after conversations across the province, we are creating an anti-racism advisory council, which will do a number of things. But one of the key things that it will do, is work with diverse communities to ensure that our school curriculum reflects the full tapestry of the cultures that make up our province and provides cross-cultural understanding and awareness that will support an inclusive and welcoming society.
And I have to say that I have this great vision of children who have this now built into their curriculum, or increasingly built into this curriculum, coming to this garden to learn about Islam, to learn about the Ismaili community, to learn about what this garden has to offer. And it’s a tremendously wonderful alignment of our values and we are able to come together to build that even more welcoming and more dynamic province.
So in closing I just want to offer my thanks as well and on behalf of the Province of Alberta, my thanks to everyone who has been involved in making this beautiful space happen.
Your Highness thank you again for your leadership and for your incredible, incredible generosity. It’s a beautiful gift to Alberta, to its people, and its economy. Everyone from families who have been here for generations, to recently arrived immigrants, will find moments of peace and calm, reflection and joy. And I am delighted that the people of Alberta can count on you, your Highness, as a true friend. And I am proud to say that we stand with you as we work together to build a fairer, more inclusive world.
So thank you very much.