Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attended the 26th Annual Ismaili Muslim Stampede Breakfast in Calgary yesterday alongside senior representatives of the federal, provincial and municipal governments, as well as civil society, business and other community leaders.

This year’s Breakfast highlighted 50 years of the Ismaili Muslim community’s significant presence in the country, and featured an exhibition entitled 50 Years of Migration chronicling members of the Jamat’s journeys to Canada from across the world, as well as their subsequent contributions to the economic, social and political fabric of the country. 

The complimentary breakfast, open to all, attracts more than 5,000 visitors annually and is a staple on the Calgary Stampede breakfast circuit, made all the more special with its unique side serving of bharazi – sumptuous pigeon peas in a coconut sauce.

The Breakfast underscores the Jamat’s commitment to building a better Calgary, to the shared Canadian values of service, compassion, and equity, and to the vibrancy and flourishing that is enabled when pluralism is put into action.

In his remarks, the Prime Minister noted that many members of the community have thanked him and his father, the late Prime Minister Pierre E. Trudeau, for making possible the first substantial migration of Ismailis to Canada after fleeing instability in East Africa in the early 1970s. 

However, the Prime Minister noted, “I and Canada owe you a debt of gratitude, not just for everything you've contributed to this country, but for being a shining example of what welcoming people who are fleeing violence, persecution, fear can do. When we welcome refugees, we're not only giving them opportunities, we are enriching our country so deeply. And everything this community has done for Canada has reinforced that and has kept all Canadians positive towards immigration, which is a real value in this difficult, difficult time around the world.”

Danielle Smith, Premier of Alberta, built on these comments, noting “There is no doubt that Ismaili influence has left Canada and Alberta immeasurably better off. This year's Stampede Breakfast is more proof your generosity knows no bounds. It's not limited by faith or culture or colour, and it's marked Alberta deeply from the Aga Khan Garden to your endless, quiet individual acts of care. Every day you change lives by volunteering, improving education and practicing social responsibility. And you define the Ismaili community as one that believes in the dignity of all peoples.”

The event was held in the presence of the Honourable Salma Lakhani, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and the first Ismaili Muslim to hold that office. Both the Prime Minister and Premier acknowledged Her Honour’s own history and path, establishing herself in Canada after having fled persecution and instability, and now serving as an example of the transformative impact of unbridled commitment to the well-being of one’s fellow citizens.

The Breakfast was held on the premises of the Calgary Headquarters Jamatkhana, where tour guides ushered hundreds of visitors through the building, identifying its striking architectural features and its juxtaposition of traditional Islamic elements with modern, local ones. 

Each year, the Jamat partners with a local not-for-profit organisation, highlighting the work of the organisation in its annual Stampede Parade float. This year, they partnered with the Calgary Centre for Newcomers, a long-established charitable entity providing settlement services to foster a welcoming environment and help newcomers feel a sense of belonging in Calgary, a place where they can thrive. Past years’ Ismaili Stampede Float partners have included the Canadian Mental Health Association, Calgary Reads, Inn from the Cold, the Calgary Drop-In Centre, and the Women in Need Society. 

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek capped off the opening ceremonies, thanking the community for its vision. “Your leaders and your community and each and every one of you that are committed to making Calgary a great place, understand that it only happens when we all work together and exercise compassion. Thank you for doing that every day. Thank you for being such a big part of this city.”