Mawlana Hazar Imam departed Vancouver on 20 October, concluding his five-day visit to Canada. Accompanied by Prince Aly Muhammad for the duration of his trip, Hazar Imam participated in historic events in three cities in Western Canada. 

The visit began in Edmonton at the University of Alberta (U of A), where Mawlana Hazar Imam inaugurated the 4.8 hectare Mughal-inspired Aga Khan Garden, Alberta. The northernmost Islamic Garden in the world, U of A President David Turpin praised it as a “magnificent transformative space.” Thanking Mawlana Hazar Imam for the incredible gift, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, the Honourable Lois Mitchell, described it as an “expression of the concepts of peace and cultural understanding.”

In his remarks at the inauguration ceremony, Mawlana Hazar Imam spoke of the role of gardens in promoting care and concern for the natural environment, saying “a central part of the Garden tradition is the high calling of human stewardship, our responsibility to honour, to protect, and to share the gifts of the natural world.” Hazar Imam continued, “It is our hope and expectation on this special day that the Aga Khan Garden here at the University of Alberta will truly be a gift that keeps on giving.”

The visit continued to Calgary, where Mawlana Hazar Imam was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Calgary — the institution’s highest academic honour — in recognition of his outstanding service to humanity and his “passion to inspire.” University President Dr Elizabeth Cannon referred to Hazar Imam as a “living legend” and commended him for being “instrumental in forging universal ideals and aspirations, promoting pluralism, compassion, cultural amplitude, and human dignity.”

On 19 October, Hazar Imam was conferred with honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University at a joint ceremony, the first of its kind. On the historic occasion, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, the Honourable Janet Austin thanked Hazar Imam for “his extraordinary leadership and for helping us to make Canada a place of peace and tolerance that is inclusive of all.”