On September 21, 2016, Canada’s former Hong Kong-born governor-general Adrienne Louise Clarkson, 77, presented Prize for Global Citizenship to Ismailia Shi’ites’ Spiritual Leader Prince Karim Agha Khan IV at a ceremony at the Toronto’s Koerner Hall.
The annual Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship recognises an individual who has, through thought and dialogue, encouraged approaches and strategies that strive to remove barriers, change attitudes, and reinforce the principles of tolerance and respect.
Presenting the award, Clarkson described Agha Khan, the most remarkable human being who has worked in 30different countries with 80,000 people around the world to help improve the lives of some most disadvantaged people in health, education, agriculture, development of cities, and building public parks.
UK-born Agha Khan in his acceptance speech covered several topics such as Islamophobia, racism, pluralism, Brexit, etc. (listen below).
“My own religious community identifies proudly as Ismaili Muslims, with our specific interpretation of Islamic faith and history. But we also feel a sense of belonging with the whole of the Muslim world, what we call the Ummah. Within the Ummah, the diversity of identities is immense – based on language, on history, on nationhood, ethnicity and a variety of local affiliations. But, at the same time, I observe a growing sense within the Ummah of a meaningful global bond. When the question of human identity is seen in this context, then diversity itself can be seen as a gift. In the end of course, we must realize that living with diversity is a challenging process. We are wrong to think it will be easy. The work of pluralism is always a work in progress,” he said.
Agha Khan, later paid a visit to the Agha Khan Museum of Islamic Heritage in Toronto.
Agha Khan heads 15 million-strong Ismailia Muslim communities in 30 countries world-wide. Canada is home to some 70,000 Ismailia Muslims. Pakistan is home to world’s largest Ismailia population followed by Afghanistan, and Kenya.
In 2005, Adrienne Clarkson stripped David Ahenakew (died 2010), a former Saskatchewan aboriginal leader of his Order of Canada for promoting hatred toward Israel and the Organized Jewry. Ahenakew blamed the ‘Jewish Lobby’ for the governor-general’s decision.
“Don’t forget that the Jewish lobby is a very powerful lobby. It’s not the only powerful lobby, but it’s a very powerful lobby,” Lloyd Barber, a former University of Regina president and companion of the Order of Canada, said.