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Aga Khan to address Ismaili community here - 2008-11-19

Wednesday, 2008, November 19
The Vancouver Sun
Chris Mikula, Canwest News Service, Files

The Aga Khan's eight-day visit to Canada started on Tuesday.
The Aga Khan is both a major spiritual leader and the head of a $500-million-US-a-year development agency, and his eight-day visit to Canada, which began Tuesday, reflects both roles.

As Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, he will meet and address members of Canada's 75,000-strong Ismaili community in special events to mark his Golden Jubilee.

These events are being held in Ottawa, where his visit began on Tuesday, as well as Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, where the visit ends next Wednesday.

As founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), the world's largest non-governmental development agency, he also has a series of high-level meetings with Canadian leaders and institutions.

In addition to a formal welcome from Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean, he is to meet in Ottawa with senior government officials to discuss continued collaboration between Canada and the AKDN. Over 25 years the network, primarily through Aga Foundation Canada, has worked with Canadian universities and government departments as well as both private sector and civil society organizations to tackle challenges in the developing world.

In Toronto, the Aga Khan is to meet Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. He will also sign a memorandum of understanding between McMaster University and the Aga Khan University, which has campuses and programs in eight countries in South Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

In Calgary he will meet Alberta Lt.-Gov. Norman Kwong and officials from the University of Alberta.

In Vancouver he is to meet B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell and Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan.

The Aga Khan was a 20-year-old Harvard University student when he succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Mohamed Shah, in 1957. In the 50 years that followed, he has led his followers through some difficult times and has built the AKDN into a leading development organization.

Most of Canada's Ismaili Muslim families arrived here in the 1970s, a time of turmoil in the countries where they were born, particularly in East Africa.

Today, those countries they left are among the 25 worldwide that are the focus of AKDN-supported development initiatives.

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