8 June, 2009, Edmonton, Canada – His Highness the Aga Khan, Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Alberta on June 9th in recognition of his efforts to improve the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people and build a global culture of tolerance.
During his visit to Edmonton, the Aga Khan will meet with Premier Ed Stelmach and University of Alberta President, Dr. Indira Samarasekera, as well as witness the signing of an agreement to enhance collaboration with the University of Alberta. The Aga Khan University (AKU), located in Karachi, Pakistan, has had a long-standing relationship with the University of Alberta.
AKU has enjoyed more than a quarter century of close associations with several universities in Canada, including the University of Alberta, McMaster University, the University of Waterloo, and the University of Toronto.
The Ismaili Imamat’s tradition of leadership (the Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam of the Ismaili Muslims) in educational development goes back to the founding of Al-Azhar University and the Academy of Science, Dar al-Ilm, in Cairo, over 1000 years ago. Today, AKDN operates two universities, the Aga Khan University, which was founded in Pakistan over 25 years ago and has campuses in eight countries, and the University of Central Asia, with campuses in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
The Network’s endeavours in the areas of education currently include over 300 schools and advanced educational programmes that provide quality pre-school, primary, secondary, and higher secondary education services to students throughout the world.
The partnerships with Canada extend well beyond education. Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC) has been implmenting innovative development initiatives in Africa and Asia in partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency for over 25 years.