OTTAWA – Top Canadian personalities have been appointed to the Aga Khan’s new Global Centre for Pluralism including former governor-general of Canada Adrienne Clarkson as well as global figures including former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Anan.
Canadian immigration and multicultural minister Jason Kenney attended the inauguration of the board of governors of the new centre which will seek to promote pluralism that the Aga Khan has lauded Canada for.
The Aga Khan is expected to chair the meeting of the board when he arrives in Canada on Oct. 13.
“Chaired by His Highness the Aga Khan, Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, the Board is composed of renowned Canadian and international leaders and thinkers,” said a statement issued by the centre.
‘They include The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, former Governor General of Canada and Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations. Other members are: Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Head of the AKDN’s Social Welfare department, Iain Benson, Canadian lawyer and Professor of Law at the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein; Yash Ghai, leading Kenyan constitutional expert; Rudyard Griffiths, co-founder of the Dominion Institute; Huguette Labelle, Chancellor, University of Ottawa; Azim Nanji, Senior Associate Director for the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, Stanford University; Margaret Ogilvie, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, Carleton University; and Khalil Shariff, Chief Executive Officer of Aga Khan Foundation Canada (AKFC).”
The Global Centre for Pluralism is an initiative of His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada. The Centre takes inspiration from Canada’s experience with pluralism and will focus on bringing knowledge about the benefits and practice of pluralism to other countries around the world.
The new Board is charged with establishing an institutional framework to support and implement the founding vision for the Centre as a global resource for research, education and exchange about the values, practices and policies that underpin pluralist societies.
The mission of the Global Centre for Pluralism is to promote pluralism as a fundamental human value and cornerstone of peace, stability and development. Ensuring that every individual – irrespective of cultural, ethnic or religious differences – has the opportunity to realize his or her full potential as a citizen is a vital part of this mission.
When fully operational, the Centre will serve as a global repository and source for knowledge and know-how about fostering pluralistic values, policies, and practices in a variety of settings. It will enable international policy dialogue; academic and professional development; provide advisory services; and support research and learning.
The Centre will eventually occupy 330 Sussex Drive in Ottawa. Situated between the National Gallery of Canada and the Royal Canadian Mint, this landmark heritage building was purpose-built to house the Dominion Archives of Canada and later served as the home of the Canadian War Museum.
The building, which has been vacant for several years, requires extensive renovation and rehabilitation – expected to take some years to complete. Preliminary work to guide the long-term, multi-phased revitalization of the heritage property and the site has already been undertaken and will continue in the coming months.
On Thursday, Kenney issued the following statement:
“I applaud His Highness the Aga Khan’s announcement of a Board of Directors for the Global Centre for Pluralism. I am very pleased to meet the members of the Board, who are gathering in Ottawa for an inaugural two-day meeting.
“The Government of Canada supports efforts to encourage pluralism as part of our policy to build an integrated and socially cohesive society and we are honoured that Ottawa was selected as the site of the Global Centre for Pluralism.
“I am confident that the renowned and skilled individuals who will sit on the Centre’s Board of Directors will enhance the important work that the Global Centre for Pluralism will carry out on the international stage.”