Prince Rahim and Princess Zahra represented Mawlana Hazar Imam at a special ceremony and luncheon today in Vancouver to sign an Agreement of Cooperation between the Ismaili Imamat and the Province of British Columbia.

The parties will work together to improve the quality of life of vulnerable individuals around the world, beginning by addressing growing global challenges around the environment and climate.

“The agreement reinforces the Imamat’s permanent commitment to this province, and, alongside similar partnerships already in place with Alberta and Ontario, to this great country,” said Prince Rahim in his remarks at the event, hosted along the waterfront in downtown Vancouver.

“First among the challenges and risks that face humanity today is the climate emergency in all its dimensions,” he added. “The recent devastating floods in Pakistan, for example, illustrate the urgency of the situation.”

“British Columbia has become a leader in the fight against planetary breakdown. Its institutions, companies, and organisations, public and private, are creating new knowledge and identifying innovative solutions in the areas of environmental stewardship, climate adaptation, sustainability, and many others.” 

The partnership will facilitate the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat’s close collaboration with the Climate Action Secretariat of British Columbia to assess and tackle long-term environmental risks facing people in the mountains of South and Central Asia. 

Premier of British Columbia John Horgan signed the agreement on behalf of the Province, shortly after meeting with Prince Rahim and Princess Zahra to discuss areas of mutual collaboration. 

“Today we talked about the challenges of inequality, we talked about the challenges of climate change and the impact it has on civil society, on families, and individuals,” said Premier Horgan.

“Only by working together collectively, multilaterally, globally, can we address these challenges and what I've learnt in my time in getting to know the Ismaili community here in British Columbia is that all of us stand ready to take on that challenge.”

Soon after the ceremony, Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, hosted a luncheon in honour of the signing.

“I’m so pleased to see this relationship developing and deepening, in terms of how we can help to address climate change and adapt for the future,” said Lieutenant Governor Austin. “This accord will surely deepen and endure over time, anchored as it is, in our vision for a better world for all, and our shared commitment to cooperation and mutual learning.” 

She also paid tribute to the Ismaili community for playing a full part in the fabric of Canadian society and for making the country its home. “Thank you for all that you have contributed over the past 50 years and for all that we can accomplish together in the next 50,” she said.

Addressing guests at the luncheon, Princess Zahra applauded Canada for accepting Ismailis and other communities “with characteristic warmth, openness, and humanity” after they faced expulsion from East Africa 50 years ago. They were later joined by many others from all parts of the world.

“It would have been easier just to say no. But Canada welcomed those and other refugees with open arms and generosity,” she said to the assembled audience. “I believe that that has contributed to the rich tapestry that defines this country today.”

Princess Zahra also underlined the importance of a commitment to openness and equality of opportunity as the world faces increasing migration due to conflict, natural disasters, climate change, and poverty. 

“Canada has shown that with clear intent, intelligent policy, considered leadership, and humility, it is possible to create the right conditions for people to flourish together,” she said. “It is my father’s wish, which I’m sure we all share, that the Ismaili community’s experiences here over the past five decades be an inspiration for other communities around the world.”