The Premier acknowledged the AKDN's commitment to civil society, education, health care, and to improving gender equality in societies and “circumstances that are very difficult.” Closer to home, she also noted important contributions made by members of the Ismaili community in Alberta, particularly towards multi-generational projects.
“I must say in my experience in the last five years, people who are members of your faith community are incredible leaders in our community,” said Premier Redford.
Signed at Government House, the agreement notes that the Province and the Imamat share a commitment to confronting persistent, varied and large scale material poverty, recognising it as one of the great challenges facing the global community. Alberta and the Aga Khan Development Network will work together towards equitable human advancement and social justice.
“There are days in one's life that mark an individual, that mark an institution,” said Mawlana Hazar Imam, “and today is one of those days.” Such days, he noted “open doors to the future, give you a sense of hope, a sense of confidence, a sense of not being alone in trying to achieve the goals that one has set.”
Varying circumstances in countries of the world where the Imamat works mean that people are living with hope, but sometimes also sadness and difficulty, Hazar Imam said that the Ismaili Imamat has a duty “to try to convert these countries into countries of opportunity.”
“We can't do that alone, but we can do it with Canada and we can do it with the province of Alberta,” said Hazar Imam.
The Ismaili Imamat and AKDN have agreements and memoranda of understanding with over 20 states and nations around the world, including the states of California, Texas and Illinois, as well as the East African Community, Germany, Mali, Portugal, and Tajikistan. The agreement with Alberta builds on a long history of cooperation.
As far back as the 1980s, Alberta Aid supported education, health and rural development initiatives of the Aga Khan Foundation, and in more recent years the University of Alberta and the Aga Khan University formalised their own partnership agreement. In 2009, Mawlana Hazar Imam announced plans to gift an Islamic garden to be situated at the University's Devonian Gardens.
“How do you convince western societies that Islam is a faith of civilisation, and not just a faith?” asked Hazar Imam in his remarks. “Well I hope that the Islamic garden when it comes into place will be able to show a different aspect of our faith.”