Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer:
Honourable senators, I would first of all like to thank Senator Harder for his statement today and, more important, for his friendship with the Aga Khan and the Ismaili community. We always see you as one of us. Thank you, Peter.
Honourable senators, in 1958, as a young child, I saw His Highness the Aga Khan’s coronation in Kampala, Uganda. I was following my dad, Sherali Bandali Jaffer, as he organized the coronation.
Today, 60 years later, I rise to thank His Highness the Aga Khan for the tremendous sacrifices he has personally made to improve the lives of Ismaili Muslims and people all around the world. I humbly thank him for all his hard work.
As you know, senators, I have risen in this chamber on many occasions and have spoken about the positive impact His Highness has had on my life and the positive impact he has had on the lives of men, women and children around the world.
This week is a very special week for Ismaili Muslims in Canada. His Highness is gracing us with his physical presence to commemorate his Diamond Jubilee anniversary.
For more than three quarters of his life, His Highness has worked tirelessly to make this world a better place and improve the quality of life in less-developed regions of the world.
His Highness has also invested a lot in Canada. The Global Centre for Pluralism represents a unique partnership between the Ismaili Imamat and Canada, and was inspired by a shared commitment with Canada’s leadership to create a world where human differences are valued and diverse societies thrive. This commitment was shared by Prime Ministers Chrétien, Martin, Harper and Trudeau, all of whom contributed to the creation of this institution.
Honourable senators, this is a time of great celebration in our community. Later this week, tens of thousands of Ismailis in Calgary and Vancouver will gather to welcome His Highness. We will dance, we will eat biryani and samosas, and we will make memories that we will cherish forever.
While this visit is one that Ismailis across the country are anxiously awaiting, I would be remiss not to mention all of the work that went into making this visit possible.
First, I would like to thank the Government of Canada and Minister Bibeau for welcoming His Highness to Canada. I would also like to thank Presidents Eboo and Talib and their councils, and the Ismaili volunteers, who for weeks have been working day and night ironing out all the details for this visit. They have done an amazing job. This visit would not be possible without the hard work of the volunteers. Whether they are young volunteers, like my grandchildren Ayaan and Almeera, or elders in our community, this visit will bring together people of all ages and remind us of the importance of serving our communities.
Honourable senators, I would like to conclude by sharing an excerpt of an article my good friend and mentor former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien published yesterday on His Highness’s work. He wrote:
. . . what makes each of us different does not need to be a source of conflict or envy or suspicion, but instead something to treasure and celebrate.
Honourable senators, like me, you may just think of these characteristics as “the Canadian way,” but they’re also in short supply in today’s world. That makes our mission as a country more important, and it makes the work of the Aga Khan indispensable.