Wednesday, April 27, 1983
Your Highness, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a very special privilege for me to be a guest here today on this auspicious occasion and to offer you your Highness, a few words of welcome and thanks on behalf of the Prime Minister and the Government of Canada.
There are many reasons why we are pleased to welcome your Highness to our country and to this great city of Toronto. First, you represent in a special way the Ismaili Community. Many members of that Community came to join us in Canada a decade ago because of tragic difficulties they faced in Uganda. In the years since then they have become like other Ismailis who preceded them, valued citizens of this country. They have had an impact and I tell you that I know that because of my own portfolio, they have had an impact out of all proportion to their numbers and are contributing to our country through their initiative and accomplishments in many fields -- in the professions, in business, in government and as responsible citizens. I am particularly happy to take this occasion to say how proud we are, Sir, that they chose Canada for their permanent home.
But equally as important, we are honoured to welcome you, Your Highness, in this your Silver Jubilee Year and we are pleased that you have taken this opportunity to meet again with old friends and to make many new ones throughout Canada. Because of your quiet and dedicated leadership, more and more Canadians have become aware of the continuing contribution you are making not only as leader of the Ismaili Community, but also as a world statesman. Your concern for people and your efforts to help those in need to improve their lot are an inspiring example of the kind of leadership this world of ours needs more of.
And third, this occasion also gives me an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of the Aga Khan Foundation. The Foundation has shown an impressive commitment to improving health services for those who do not enjoy a fair share of the world's resources in that vital field. Not only through its extensive network of health centres in Pakistan but through its efforts in other countries and in other key sectors such as child development, family health and nutrition and rural employment. We are pleased that among the Canadian non-governmental organizations making such a significant contribution to Canada's efforts to assist the people of the Third World, the Aga Khan Foundation has assumed a valuable and respected role.
Since 1980, when the Foundation's Canadian affiliate was created, with its headquarters in Vancouver, the Government of Canada through the Canadian International Development Agency - CIDA, has had the privilege of cooperating in several endeavours such as the international seminar on the role of hospitals in primary health care held in Karachi in 1981, and now the Foundation and CIDA are cooperating in an important new program to help Pakistan strengthen the contribution of nursing to the well-being of its people.
This training program to be carried out through the cooperation of McMaster University in Hamilton, which is well-known for its innovative and progressive approach to health care, should help to ensure that as the nursing profession in Pakistan grows in scope and influence there, it will be oriented toward community health and give priority to reaching out to the under-served people of the rural areas and remote regions. Through this joint endeavour formalized in Hamilton yesterday by you, we can help Pakistan to establish a solid foundation for increasing self-reliance in public health. But equally important, we can help to create a core of excellence in Pakistan nursing that will raise its standards as well as the status of nursing in that country. In this respect, I wish to pay tribute to the crucial importance of your Highness's personal patronage and support of the goal of ennobling the role of nursing and ennobling the nursing profession in Pakistan.
The Aga Khan Foundation, like other non-governmental organizations represented in this room, has brought a priceless ingredient to the struggle for international development. That ingredient, the kind of leavening that can cause dramatic changes to happen is the element of people-to-people concern -- of voluntary, personal involvement that gives grass-roots projects vitality and spirit too often lacking in bigger, more impersonal development efforts. The priority set by the Aga Khan Foundation and the approach taken by Canada's non-governmental organizations as a whole, fit very well with the framework of ideas that has resulted from 30 years of official experience by Canada in international development.
We have learnt sometimes through painful experience that it's not enough just to transplant some Western-style initiatives aimed at economic growth. Or even to support projects that simply focus on social development. We have become aware increasingly that programs of enduring value must be rooted in the values and culture of the people they involve and must take into account how those people think and feel and make decisions. We have reached a level of development thinking where we now realize that the goal of development assistance must be to enable the people of the Third World to achieve forms of development that are sustainable, largely from their own resources as they build societies in harmony with their own environment.
To help the developing countries' progress in that direction, the Government of Canada has had the very great advantage of being able to work for many years now in creative partnership with the vast array of non-governmental organizations whose members can be found in every part of Canada. These NGOs represent what is highest and best in our people -- I believe -- concern, compassion, generosity, a caring attitude to a world in which there is much violence, much suffering and too much tragedy. They manifest our commitment and I hope in the future, in the new interdependent society that is being born, and must be born if any or all of the world is to survive.
I am pleased that the Government through CIDA has been able to channel increasing amounts of Canadian aid funding into the admirable projects being sponsored by such group as the Aga Khan Foundation. There is a vital role for the private sector to play in international development and we have created a spectrum of programs to help enlist the special talents and abilities of all parts of Canadian society in the effort. This includes not only voluntary agencies specializing in overseas development but the full range of Canada's social institutions -- universities such as McGill and McMaster, and community colleges, professional associations, cooperatives and credit unions. It also includes Canadian business, through CIDA's Industrial Cooperation Program, because as Your Highness emphasized, in your efforts over the years, private enterprise has much of value to contribute in the way of employment creation and managerial efficiency as the developing countries seek to strengthen the fabric of their nationhood. The Canadian Government hopes to see Canadian companies and industries play an increasingly helpful role in the years ahead.
Your Highness, to conclude these remarks, may I say again, how happy we are to have you among us and to pay tribute once more to the Aga Khan Foundation for the bold action, imagination and generosity it has already shown as a respected member of Canada's NGO community. We look forward to growing cooperation as the Foundation pursues its objectives with vigour and with courage and to benefitting from your insight and sensitivity as we work together at our shared task of sparking urgently needed improvements in the quality of human life. The biblical injunction tells us where there is no vision, the people perish. Your Highness, we welcome you in our midst as a man of vision, whose leadership and humility are an example and a source of inspiration. We look forward to working with you in the years ahead and we hope that you will return to Canada very soon.
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