Lieutenant Governors are personal representatives of Her Majesty the Queen in their respective provinces. They fulfill the roles and functions of the Queen, including granting Royal Assent to provincial laws, and in the province of Alberta, inducting individuals into the Alberta Order of Excellence. Lieutenant Governors are appointed by the Governor General of Canada on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
Salma is a passionate advocate of community and a tireless champion of civic engagement. Her activities over several decades have spanned the fields of education, health care, human rights, and support for new immigrants, with a focus on enhancing the wellbeing of marginalised segments of society.
This appointment is particularly significant as Salma will be the first-ever Muslim to hold the position of Lieutenant Governor in Canada. In his announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that Salma is "a proud Ismaili Muslim" whose dedication to championing opportunities for those facing barriers is shaped by the values of pluralism and inclusion.
“In line with the Jamat’s tradition of service to the societies in which we live, Salma has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to advocating for those in need,” said Ameerally Kassim-Lakha, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada. “On the historic occasion of Salma’s appointment as Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor, I offer my warmest congratulations on behalf of the Jamat and its institutions”
Similar to the stories of many other Ismaili families in Canada, Salma and her husband Zaheer moved to Edmonton, Alberta, in 1977 as stateless individuals, following the expulsion of their families from Uganda. Throughout her time in Edmonton, Salma has been a community advocate and active participant in civic life. She was a founding member of NorQuest College's "1000 Women: A Million Possibilities" movement where she served for 10 years, and one of the first mentors in the college's Youth in Transition programme.
In addition, Salma served for 10 years as a Board Director for the John Humphrey Center for Peace and Human Rights. She has also supported a range of initiatives, including the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, Kids Kottage, Sorrentino's Compassion House, and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.
When asked about her community service, Salma remarked that Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance is to serve in the communities in which the Jamat lives and that her and her family’s philosophy of service has followed that ethos.
Salma's community and civil society endeavours were recognised when she was awarded with the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, and an Honorary Diploma from NorQuest College in 2019.
In her acceptance address for the Honorary Diploma, Salma said: “His Highness the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, who has been a great source of inspiration in all that I do, said in a speech: ‘The Islamic Ethic is that, if God has given you the capacity or good fortune to be a privileged individual in society, you have a moral responsibility to society.’”
When asked about her goals for her office as Lieutenant-Governor, she responded: “My philosophy for community building has always been very simple. If you believe in a cause, and you think you can make a difference, then jump in with two feet and give it your best.”