Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged the Jamat’s gift in a letter, stating “This initiative aims to generate one million volunteer hours over the course of a year. It is this generosity of spirit that I believe embodies what it means to be Canadian, and I wish to thank every participant for your hard work to shape Canada into a better place for all.”
On 17 September 2017, a day that the City of Calgary proclaimed as the official Ismaili CIVIC 150 Day, the Canadian Ismaili Muslim community hosted events in six regions across the country to contribute voluntary service towards the one-million-hour gift to Canada. The day included park clean-ups, organising clothing donations, meal preparations, participation in the Terry Fox Run, and a meeting with longtime community partners such as The United Way, Habitat for Humanity, S.U.C.C.E.S.S, the Boys & Girls Club and the YWCA at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby, where attendees could sign up to participate in initiatives organised by these partners.
As Ismaili CIVIC 150 organizers Zahra Hirji and Amyn Bhayani note, the spirit of service is at the heart of so many Jamati members.
“Volunteering, giving back, harnessing the power of community — these are some of the things that define us,” Zahra said. “So what better way to commemorate these two major milestones in our lives?”
“The Jamat has been outspoken about its desire to really give something back to Canada in a more formal way and now they have a platform to do it,” Amyn said. “Jamati members can log their service hours on the Ismaili CIVIC 150 tracker — let’s see how long it takes to get to a million!”
CIVIC, which stands for Challenging Ismaili Volunteers in Communities, is a legacy of the Golden Jubilee, founded as an initiative to engage Jamati youth aged 13 – 25. CIVIC originally appealed to the social conscience of young Ismailis by inviting them to give back to their local communities through voluntary service. CIVIC Days have lasted beyond the Golden Jubilee, with great impact on the community, and the Canadian Jamat hopes that Ismaili CIVIC 150 will have an even more substantial legacy.
“This is not, in our view, a one-time project,” said Ismaili Council for Canada Vice-President Karima Karmali. “We hope to commemorate Ismaili CIVIC Day for many years to come. Our commitment to improving Canadian quality of life is a lasting one, and Ismaili CIVIC 150 is really intended to leave a legacy that celebrates and honours that commitment.”