ONTARIO Premier Kathleen Wynne welcomed the Aga Khan to Queen’s Park on Monday for the signing of a historic Agreement of Cooperation between the province and the Ismaili Imamat. The agreement outlines areas of cooperation and joint initiatives, including leveraging diversity and culture as an economic driver and supporting a pluralistic approach to education.
In the agreement and its related appendices, the government and the Ismaili Imamat have agreed to collaborate on mutually beneficial education initiatives in an effort to foster capacity-building and promote the exchange of knowledge and expertise. Projects include the secondment of Ontario teachers to the Aga Khan Academies; the creation of opportunities for Aga Khan Academy graduates to attend Ontario’s world-class post-secondary institutions; and the exploration of a range of curriculum-linked resources that emphasize intercultural understanding and that draw on the Aga Khan Museum for its teaching collection and expertise on pluralism of Muslim culture to support learning in Ontario schools.
The agreement also includes the establishment of policy forums to examine leveraging culture as an economic driver and harnessing Toronto’s diverse population to put Canada’s financial capital at the forefront of global economic cities.
During the visit, Wynne also joined the Aga Khan for the inauguration of the Aga Khan Park. Toronto’s newest cultural hub, the Aga Khan Park encompasses the Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum, both of which were opened in September 2014.
The Aga Khan Park is the ninth park project to be undertaken by the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of development agencies and institutions that support social, economic and cultural development projects. Located around the globe, these parks, when properly maintained, can contribute to improving quality of life in urban areas and in many cases have also proven to be economic generators that bring about positive social change.
The Park will now join the Centre and Museum in hosting various cultural, educational and social programs and events that promote intercultural dialogue and exchange of ideas.
- Culture-related industries currently contribute approximately $22 billion annually to Ontario’s economy, generating about 280,000 jobs. In 2012, preliminary figures indicate spending by arts and culture tourists generated $3.9 billion in GDP and supported 61,000 jobs.
- The Aga Khan is the 49th hereditary Imam (spiritual leader) of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and Founder and Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, a group of agencies that share a mission to improve living conditions and opportunities for the poor, without regard to their faith, origin or gender. In Islam, religious leaders not only interpret the faith, but also have a responsibility to help improve the quality of life in their community and in the societies amongst which they live.
- The Aga Khan Academies are an integrated network of day and residential schools dedicated to expanding access to education of an international standard of excellence. Each Academy aims to develop home-grown leaders with a strong sense of ethics and civic responsibility as well as to identify and develop teachers who are committed to both the all-round development of young people and their own professional excellence.
- The Aga Khan Museum’s mission is to foster a greater understanding and appreciation of the contribution that Muslim civilizations have made to world heritage.
- The Museum received $100,000 in funding through the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund for its inaugural season programming. Through education, research and collaboration, the Museum will foster dialogue and promote tolerance and mutual understanding among people.