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Canadian PM pays tributes to Aga Khan’s vision

TORONTO, Sept 16: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and His Highness the Aga Khan formally opened the Ismaili Centre Toronto and Aga Khan Museum.

These projects, which are initiatives of the Aga Khan, the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, are intended to foster knowledge and understanding both within Muslim societies and between these societies and other cultures, said a press release issued on Tuesday.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Aga Khan saluted the many leaders, volunteers and staff who have made possible the completion of these new institutions, including the Prime Minister, and many members of government at the federal, provincial and municipal levels. These spaces “will be filled with sounds of enrichment, dialogue and warm human rapport, as Ismailis and non-Ismailis share their lives in a healthy gregarious spirit,” he remarked. Prime Minister Harper commented that the site will be “a source of inspiration, spiritual renewal and cultural awareness,” not only for Torontonians, but for all visitors.

The Prime Minister paid a special tribute to Aga Khan’s vision of Islam, which “stresses its social traditions of peace, tolerance and pluralism. The decision to establish this significant initiative in Canada reflects the deep and longstanding partnership between the Imamat and Canada,” said the Prime Minister.

Following the ceremony, Prime Minister Harper and His Highness the Aga Khan, as well as Prince Amyn Aga Khan, Vice-Chair of the Museum’s Board of Directors, and Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, officiated over the opening ceremony of the Aga Khan Museum. “I believe strongly that art and culture can have a profound impact in healing misunderstanding and in fostering trust even across great divides,” said Prince Amyn. “This is the extraordinary purpose, the special mandate, to which this Museum is dedicated. In its role to reveal and to stimulate dialogue between different cultures, the Aga Khan Museum will continue a long history of cultural sharing between Islam and the West.”

The Ismaili Centre and the Aga Khan Museum are situated within the 6.8-hectare landscaped park designed by Vladimir Djurovic of Lebanon. This beautiful new green space for the public, which will be known as the Aga Khan Park, is expected to open next year. Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki designed the Aga Khan Museum, while Indian architect Charles Correa designed the Ismaili Centre. The Canadian firm Moriyama & Teshima are the architects of record and are responsible for integrating all aspects of the project.

The Aga Khan Museum is the first museum in North America dedicated to the arts of Muslim civilisations. Through its Permanent Collection, performing arts and educational programmes and roster of temporary exhibitions, it will welcome the full spectrum of public engagement and serve as a vibrant educational institution.

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