When the pledge was announced in July 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the gift in a letter, stating, “It is this generosity of spirit that I believe embodies what it means to be Canadian, and I wish to thank every participant for your hard work to shape Canada into a better place for all.”
During the recent Navroz celebration at the Ismaili Centre Toronto, in the presence of Prime Minister Trudeau, Ismaili Council for Canada President Malik Talib announced that the Ismaili community of Canada had met and surpassed the one-million-hour pledge.
"I want to thank and congratulate the Canadian Ismaili Muslim community on one million hours of volunteer service to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary. What a beautiful testament to your dedication to this country and all its citizens,” Trudeau said, acknowledging the accomplishment.
Ismaili CIVIC 150 saw members of the community across all age groups engage in acts of service, individually and collectively. As of 21 March, 2018, the Jamat volunteered a total of 1,127,549 hours of service across the country, surpassing the original goal.
Volunteers across Canada participated in CIVIC 150, including members of Toronto’s Willowdale Jamatkhana, who planted trees at Rouge National Urban Park.
“Once finished we tallied the numbers: a total of 135 hardwood trees were planted in two hours, with species including Aspen, Spruce, Maple, Birch and Pine trees,” said volunteer Sabrina Savji. “As we ended our day, my sister Suraiya told me how glad she was she came because she learned first-hand the effort that needs to be put in to restore our environment.”
Volunteers in Edmonton inaugurated the initiative with a four-day event that included volunteering with Habitat for Humanity and the Food Bank. Over 300 volunteers assisted with the grand opening of a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which helps cover the costs of Habitat for Humanity by selling donated furniture and other items. Volunteers organised and manned a barbeque that accepted donations in front of the store, while those inside helped with customer service and moving furniture. Other volunteers helped build homes in the Edmonton area.
“It is inspiring to see the commitment of the Ismaili volunteers,” said Christina Gray, a Member of the Legislative Assembly for Edmonton-Mill Woods, who attended the inauguration event.
In Canada’s capital Ottawa, 150 Ismailis of all ages set out to clean the city’s public parks.
“This is our way of contributing our time, knowledge and skills for the betterment of our fellow citizens,” Fayez Thawer, the event’s project manager, said. “The notion of service has always been less of a responsibility and more of an integral part of how we live.”
The Mississauga Jamat participated in a similar event, gathering almost 200 volunteers to clean Mississauga Valley Park.
Mississauga’s Mayor, Bonnie Crombie, and MP Omar Alghabra attended the event.
“No matter where the Ismailis have settled in the world, they are some of the best citizens who give back to the country they adopt as their home, and give back as vibrant citizens,” Mayor Crombie said.
“Canadian Ismailis have been contributing and making this country a better place for a very long time,” Alghabra said. “This initiative is a symbol of the community’s commitment to making Canada a better place.”
“As Ismaili Muslims and as Canadians we have a privilege to be able to volunteer and help the community which we live in,” said Sanesha Hajiyanee, a 12-year-old who volunteered at Mississauga’s park cleanup event. “There is always something you can do to make it better.”
CIVIC, which stands for Challenging Ismaili Volunteers in Communities, is a legacy of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s Golden Jubilee, founded as an initiative to engage Jamati youth aged 13-25. CIVIC originally appealed to the social conscience of young Ismailis by inviting them to give back to their local communities through voluntary service. CIVIC Days have lasted beyond the Golden Jubilee, with great impact on the community, and the Canadian Jamat hopes that Ismaili CIVIC 150 will have an even more substantial legacy.
“This is not, in our view, a one-time project,” said Ismaili Council for Canada Vice-President Karima Karmali. “We hope to commemorate Ismaili CIVIC Day for many years to come. Our commitment to improving Canadian quality of life is a lasting one, and Ismaili CIVIC 150 is really intended to leave a legacy that celebrates and honours that commitment.”