Madame Cote-Levesque, Your Excellency,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to begin this afternoon by expressing my most sincere thanks on behalf of my wife, my brother, Ismailis in Quebec and myself for the reception that you have given us today as well as for the words of praise about Ismailis and myself.
I have not had previous occasion to publicly express my gratitude to Canada and Quebec for having welcomed Ismailis at a particularly difficult time in the history of the Third World when they had to be moved and had to leave Uganda during a period of serious crisis. This hospitality, in my opinion, has gone beyond the understanding of the Western, of even the Third World. This hospitality represents a fundamental element of a Canadian. The dignity of man and the fact that all cultures, languages and faiths should and can live together, and that in doing so, strengthen a society.
I also wanted to tell you that the Ismaili community's relationship with Quebec is more long-established and perhaps deeper than what the general public imagines. In fact, Ismailis settled in Quebec as early as in the sixties, that is almost a quarter of a century now. I also wanted to mention that the relationships we have cover many fields and I would like to start by education.
It is now more than 10 years that we have been working in close collaboration with McGill and I think it opportune that I should express our gratitude for everything that McGill has done for us and I hope will continue to do in the future. And I am going to give you two examples, two examples that indeed fit very well in the Canadian context. Firstly, we work together on the development of Islamic studies here in Canada and in England and on the training of teachers for the Third World. McGill is also helping us set up our new faculty of Health Sciences at the Aga Khan University in Karachi. We also have contacts with the Montreal General Hospital who provide us with substantial help in the development of our activities in the medical field in the Third World. Last year, we were extremely sensitive, extremely thankful to the Assistance Medicale Internationale who helped us in Pakistan and in Tanzania. That is in the field of education, in the medical field, but our relationship with Quebec has not stopped here. Even in economic development, there have been activities that have linked us. I have in front of me, Mr. Khosla whose company was one of the first in the West to receive the Aga Khan Award for Architecture and who is building for us today hotels in secondary cities of Pakistan, cities that need economic support and we are seeking this in Canada, in Quebec, and I would say, seeking this sensitivity that you have towards the various cultures of the world.
So, Mr. Premier, it is a tradition, because I think that after 25 years we can talk of tradition, it is now that we have established relations between the Ismaili community and Quebec. It is my deep wish that this tradition should continue, should widen so that we can all benefit from the fact that we all believe in the same basic elements of human life, that is first and foremost, the dignity of man. Mr. Premier, I request everyone to raise their glasses to Quebec.
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