Prince Hussain and Princess Fareen visited Toronto and Waterloo this week as part of the multi-city Canadian debut of The Living Sea – Fragile Beauty — an exhibition featuring Prince Hussain’s captivating underwater photography with the goal of raising awareness of the critical need to preserve and protect our fragile marine ecosystems.

Their first stop in Toronto was the Aga Khan Museum, where Prince Hussain engaged in an on-stage conversation with Canadian television journalist and anchor Omar Sachedina. During their discussion, Prince Hussain spoke about the motivation and drive that prompted his extensive work in wildlife conservation from a young age.

The following day, Prince Hussain and Princess Fareen attended an event hosted by the University of Waterloo. In his keynote address, Prince Hussain highlighted the urgent need to protect fragile marine ecosystems and the role that youth and technology can play in that effort.

“Setting the stage, so to speak, I need to start out with good news and bad news,” said Prince Hussain, addressing the hundreds of post-secondary students from across Ontario and Quebec in attendance. “Bad news — my generation and those before have left you a planet in chaos, with a myriad of problems from political instability to poverty, hunger, the unforgiving effects of climate change, plastic pollution, overuse of natural resources and unsustainable practices such as overfishing, runaway deforestation and an unhealthy thirst for fossil fuels. For all of this, I would like to say I’m sorry. The good news is that if anyone can save the planet, put a stop to the harm that we’re doing, and bring in a healthy dawn, that would be you.”

Following his speech, Prince Hussain sat down with university president Dr Vivek Goel to discuss the guest of honour’s life-long passion for wildlife and his efforts to protect marine ecosystems through his not-for-profit organisation Focused on Nature. As a gesture of appreciation, President Goel presented Prince Hussain with an indigenous art piece by the renowned Canadian Métis visual artist, Christi Belcourt, on behalf of the University.

“For close to 50 years, the Aga Khan Development Network and the Aga Khan University have fostered partnerships with post-secondary institutions in Canada, including the University of Waterloo,” President Goel said during his remarks. “These partnerships are based on shared values and approaches to sustainable development that includes building economic, social, and cultural capacity around the world. One important way that we can build this capacity is by events like today, where we can discuss important issues such as biodiversity and sustainability.”

Ismaili Council for Canada President Ameerally Kassim-Lakha expressed gratitude to the University of Waterloo for showcasing Prince Hussain's work and invited the audience to visit the exhibition at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto.

“Here in Canada, we have a saying: Canada is a country that stretches from coast to coast to coast. It is easy to forget that we have one of the longest coastlines in the world, bordering three oceans, the Pacific, the Arctic and the Atlantic. One can only imagine what lies beyond the waves that lap at our shores, or marvel at the wonders that lie beneath their depths,” said President Kassim-Lakha. “The ocean has cared and provided for centuries but we are stretching the boundaries of this reliance and placing an extraordinary burden on our oceans and the creatures that inhabit them. This exhibition brings to light how little we know about the world we live in and how much more there is to discover. It highlights the threats: rising sea levels and temperatures, salinity and pollutants, and endangerment of life; and it reminds us of our obligation as stewards to nature, to each other, and to future generations.”

Following his remarks, President Kassim-Lakha presented a hand-painted Iznik vase inspired by the permanent collection at the Aga Khan Museum to President Goel as a symbol of appreciation.

On the final day of their visit, Prince Hussain and Princess Fareen attended an event at the Aga Khan Museum, where Prince Hussain addressed government, civil society, and institutional leaders on the urgent need for environmental conservation.

Following his remarks, Prince Hussain engaged in a conversation with Canadian television journalist and anchor Farah Nasser, delving into the severe repercussions of climate change and plastic pollution on our vulnerable marine ecosystems.

Tamiza Kassam, one of the attendees at the event, said the programme gave her “a clear understanding of Prince Hussain’s thought process, mandate, and goals of the exhibition.” While another attendee, Adil Samji, said: “This afternoon was the most inspiring event, it was superbly executed and a reminder to all of us of the role that we can play in protecting our natural environment and preserving our marine ecosystems.”

The Living Sea – Fragile Beauty exhibition will be on display at the Ismaili Centre, Toronto until 4 June. To gain further insights into Prince Hussain's photography and his work in marine conservation, be sure to tune in to The Ismaili TV for an exclusive walk-through of The Living Sea – Fragile Beauty with Prince Hussain.