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Ismaili-Canadian Muslim Community Pledges 1 Million Hours Of Volunteer Service To Canada

VANCOUVER — The Canadian Ismaili Muslim community is pleased to announce Ismaili CIVIC 150 – a pledge by the Ismaili community of 1 million hours of voluntary service to improve the quality of life of Canadians.

Ismaili CIVIC 150 commemorates Canada’s 150th anniversary since Confederation and the Diamond Jubilee of the community’s spiritual leader, His Highness the Aga Khan.Ismaili CIVIC 150 reflects the Ismaili Muslim community’s ongoing tradition and ethic of voluntary service, together with its commitment to improve quality of life in the countries in which the community resides.

On September 17,2017, Ismaili CIVIC Day,members of the community and their families and friends from across this great nationwill gather for a special launch of this initiative, in partnership with local community agencies,to build houses, clean parks, collect food, provide services for the elderly, and much more.  In British Columbia, the community will be holding a launch event at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby (4010 Canada Way, Burnaby), beginning at 11 am, to formally announce our partnerships with the following organizations:

  • Supporting a mentoring programme with S.U.C.C.E.S.S.
  • Volunteering with the Aging Societies Program with the United Way of Vancouver
  • Community serving at the Surrey Food Bank
  • YWCA Metro Vancouver
  • Boys & Girls Club
  • BC Children’s Hospital Foundation
  • Habitat for Humanity

The community will continue to make individual and team contributions to fulfill the community’s pledge of 1 million volunteer service hours through service to others in the form of mentorship, coaching, skills and employment support, settlement of new Canadians, care for the elderly, the sick and the impoverished; service to Canadian foundations, not for profit boards and charities; service to maintain and clean public spaces including parks, trails and walkways; and so much more.

In his historic address to the joint session of Parliament in Canada on February 27, 2014, His Highness the Aga Khan spoke of the shared Canadian and Ismaili Muslim value of voluntary service: “I have been impressed by recent studies showing the activity of voluntary institutions and not-for-profit organisations in Canada to be among the highest in the world. This Canadian spirit resonates with a cherished principle in Shia Ismaili culture — the importance of contributing one’s individual energies on a voluntary basis to improving the lives of others. This is not a matter of philanthropy, but rather of self-fulfillment — ‘enlightened self-fulfillment.’”

Ismaili settlement in Canada

The first Ismailis arrived in Canada in the late 1950s as part of a professional pool that immigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom and western European countries.  A few Ismaili entrepreneurs also arrived at that time in search of economic opportunities. This steady growth continued until the early 1970s when political changes in many Asian and African countries led to the arrival of large numbers of Ismailis in Canada. The community went through another important growth phase when several Ismailis from Central Asia settled in Canada after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Today, approximately 100,000 Ismailis are settled throughout Canada, and occupy senior positions in the professions and in government, and many are successful business people. In Canada, Ismailis have become known for their strong principles of volunteerism and support for humanitarian causes.

The Canadian Ismaili Muslim Community is governed by volunteers under the aegis of His Highness Prince Aga Khan Shia Imami Ismaili Council for Canada, headquartered in Toronto. Local Ismaili Councils are based in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. Over the last 35 years of Ismaili settlement in Canada, the community has sought to contribute to the fabric of Canadian society by involvement in many spheres of public life and through regional programs that demonstrate the ethic of volunteerism and compassion.

His Highness the Aga Khan and Canada

His Highness the Aga Khan has a long-standing relationship with Canada, dating back to the arrival of the first Ismailis in the 1950s and 1960s as part of a professional pool that immigrated to Canada from the United Kingdom and western European countries. This steady growth continued until the early 1970s when political changes in many Asian and African countries led to the arrival of large numbers of Ismailis in Canada. Today, approximately 100,000 Ismailis of diverse origins are settled throughout Canada.

These shared values are reflected in the many development projects on which the Government of Canada and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada (www.akfc.ca) have partnered for over 35 years, in places such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and eastern Africa.  The current partnership is expressed through efforts that include improving health and education systems, ensuring that people are able to feed themselves and earn a living, and equipping communities with the tools they need to succeed.

The Global Centre for Pluralism (www.pluralism.ca), an independent, not-for-profit international research and education centre located in Ottawa, is inspired by the example of Canada’s inclusive approach to citizenship, The Centre works to advance respect for diversity worldwide, stemming from a belief that openness and understanding toward the cultures, social structures, values and faiths of other peoples are essential to the survival of an interdependent world. Similarly, the Aga Khan Museum (www.agakhanmuseum.org) seeks to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contribution that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage, and like the Ismaili Centres, hosts programs and events that encourage dialogue and mutual understanding among people.

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