GLOBAL CENTER OF PLURALISM IN OTTAWA, CANADA
The Global Centre for Pluralism is an initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada. The Centre will be located at 330 Sussex Drive in Ottawa, Canada. Dedicated to the creation of successful societies, the Centre 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. Pluralism is no longer simply an asset or a prerequisite for progress and development. It is vital to our existence.
About the Centre
The Global Centre for Pluralism is a new international research and education centre dedicated to the study and practice of pluralism worldwide. The Centre views pluralism as a fundamental human value and cornerstone of peace, stability and development. Ensuring that every individual – irrespective of cultural, ethnic or religious differences – has the opportunity to realize his or her full potential as a citizen is a vital part of its mission. To this end, the Centre will function as a global repository and source for knowledge and know-how about fostering pluralistic values, policies, and practices in a variety of settings. An initiative of the Ismaili Imamat and the Aga Khan Development Network, the Centre is being established with significant financial and intellectual support from the Government of Canada.
What the Global Centre for Pluralism will do
The Global Centre for Pluralism will serve the global community as an international centre of excellence for the study, practice and teaching of pluralism. Its core functions will include research, education, professional development through continuing education, dialogue and exchange, governance reform, and outreach events, including cultural performances and exhibitions.
Canada is one of the world’s most successful pluralist societies. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, His Highness the Aga Khan began asking Canadian leaders to explain the key to Canada’s success managing its own diversity. In July 2001, a formal Pluralism Initiative was launched to understand how and why Canada’s unique experiment works and how its lessons might be shared with other culturally diverse societies around the world. A research program and a series of consultations with Canadian leaders, officials, academics and cultural groups as well as world leaders led to the decision to establish in Ottawa a major new international institution dedicated to the promotion of successful pluralist societies in collaboration with the Government of Canada and Canadian institutions.
The heritage building at 330 Sussex Drive, in Ottawa, Canada, will serve as the Centre’s international headquarters. Built between 1905 and 1926, it has housed two major federal institutions: the Dominion Archives of Canada and the Canadian War Museum.
Both of these institutions, in their own ways, helped Canadians to preserve and understand their history and to share Canada’s story with the world. As an institution proudly inspired by Canada, the Centre will honour and perpetuate this tradition.
As a centre for research and education, as a neutral space for dialogue and exchange, and as a meeting place for diverse peoples seeking common ground, the Centre will serve as a vibrant focal point for pluralism across Canada and around the world.
The building, which has been vacant for several years, requires extensive renovation and rehabilitation – expected to take some years to complete. When the Centre becomes operational it will occupy temporary premises until the building is ready.
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His Highness the Aga Khan, 49th Hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network is in Ottawa on the occasion of the inaugural board meeting of the Global Centre for Pluralism. His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada welcomed the Aga Khan in the Reception Room at Rideau Hall on Thursday, October 7, 2010, at 7 p.m.