The Aga Khan Garden, Alberta – the northernmost Islamic garden in the world - is an initiative rooted in the Imam’s commitment to cultural development, advancement of pluralism, and environmental stewardship. Designed by renowned landscape architects Nelson Byrd Woltz in collaboration with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), the Mughal-inspired garden is situated on 4.8 hectares in the University of Alberta’s Botanic Garden, and is a gift to all Canadians.
The 11th park and garden in AKTC’s portfolio, the Aga Khan Garden, Alberta is a space for connection, enjoyment, contemplation, and education, where cultural understanding can flourish. The diversity of flora and fauna within its boundaries is a pageantry of nature’s beauty but also symbolic of the plurality and diversity that exemplifies Canada. Its addition to the University’s Botanic Garden is also expected to double visitor attendance from 75,000 to 160,000 annually, and the Garden has already received national recognition for its importance and contribution to Canada’s cultural landscape. Speaking about its significance in June 2018, the Botanic Garden’s director, Lee Foote, remarked “The Aga Khan Garden has been designed and constructed to provide enjoyment for hundreds of years and many generations to come”.
“As with any garden, it will be fascinating to watch as all the plants and trees mature over time, and how programming and learning grows to incorporate the full potential of the space.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam will also attend specially convened convocation ceremonies at three leading Canadian universities. The universities will award Mawlana Hazar Imam honorary degrees in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to humanity.
In an statement, the University of Calgary’s Chancellor Deborah Yedlin and President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Elizabeth Cannon expressed their admiration for Hazar Imam’s work and the University’s strong and enduring ties with Hazar Imam and the Aga Khan Development Network. Chancellor Yedlin noted that “from international partnerships and exchanges to programs launched right here in Calgary that bring our communities together, so many of us have benefitted from his vision for a more integrated and understanding society around the globe.” In recognition of these achievements, Mawlana Hazar Imam will be bestowed with a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by the University of Calgary. This honour, the highest awarded by the University, is reserved for a select few “whose notable achievements and community service merit recognition.”
The University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) will also officially recognise Mawlana Hazar Imam’s international work in helping those less fortunate, and improving the quality of life of millions of people around the world, in a joint honorary degree conferral ceremony. During this unprecedented joint event, Hazar Imam will be awarded an honorary doctorate of laws from each university. Underscoring the significance of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s dedication to humanity, UBC’s President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Santa J. Ono, expressed “His Highness has dedicated his entire life to reducing poverty and improving health and education in underdeveloped nations. He has also supported many programs at UBC and SFU which has had an enormously positive impact on our students and the communities that we serve.” Concluding his remarks which were delivered in a video message, President Ono congratulated Mawlana Hazar Imam and conveyed that his “contributions are truly an inspiration to us all.”