Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared that Canada will grant honorary citizenship to Mawlana Hazar Imam.
“He is truly a beacon of humanitarianism; of pluralism and of tolerance throughout the entire world,” said the Prime Minister, calling him “a great partner and long-time friend of Canada, and a great benefactor to humanity.”
Mawlana Hazar Imam will be only the fifth person to receive honorary Canadian citizenship. He will join a select group of individuals that includes Swedish diplomat and Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg, former President of South Africa and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, and pro-democracy icon and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
At the time of the announcement, Mawlana Hazar Imam was in Edmonton to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Alberta. Hazar Imam and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach also presided over the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the University of Alberta and the Aga Khan University, building on a long record of cooperation between the two institutions.
19 June 2009 – Today, the Canadian House of Commons gave unanimous consent to a motion granting Honorary Canadian Citizenship to Mawlana Hazar Imam. The motion described Hazar Imam as “a beacon of humanitarianism, pluralism and tolerance throughout the world,” and noted that “in addition to the spiritual leadership he provides to the worldwide Ismaili community,” the Imam “is also actively involved in humanitarian and development projects throughout Asia and Africa.”
Through the motion, the House expressed its gratitude for Mawlana Hazar Imam's efforts in Afghanistan, “where today the Aga Khan Development Network is a vital partner in [Canada's] efforts to secure and improve the lives of Afghan citizens.” The motion also expressed the pride of the Government of Canada at having partnered with Hazar Imam to build the Global Centre for Pluralism in Ottawa.
After the motion passed, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement in which he said: “I look forward to welcoming the Aga Khan back to Canada as an Honorary Citizen, and continuing to work closely with him to improve tolerance, pluralism and development around the world.”