On 23 August 1985, then Prime Minister of Canada, Brian Mulroney, officially opened the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam and then Premier of British Columbia, Bill Bennett. The opening of the first Ismaili Centre in North America was a historic moment for the Jamat in Canada and around the world.
Farouk Verjee, then President of Ismaili Council for Canada, was intimately involved in the planning, development and opening of the Centre. He describes a meeting that occurred on the morning of Mawlana Hazar Imam’s 1978 visit to Vancouver when Hazar Imam announced to the Jamati leadership that Burnaby would be home to the first Ismaili Centre in Canada. “It was much more than just a building,” he says, “it was a powerful message to the Jamat that Canada was to be our permanent home.”
The building was designed by Vancouver architect Bruno Freschi. In 2006, Freschi visited the Centre for the first time since his involvement in the project, and spoke of his inspiration for the building and the rationale and purpose of the building from an architectural standpoint.
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