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Speech by Hazar Imam at a Banquet held in his honour in Vancouver 1978-11-14

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Event - 1978-11-14
Tuesday, 1978, November 14
Photograph of Shah Karim al-Hussayni, The Aga Khan IV sitting with Tourism Minister Grace McCarthy at a banquet in his honour, h
Aga Khan IV (H.H. Prince Karim)

November 14, 1978

Your Excellencies, Your Worship, Honorable Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen.

In more senses than one, the sun has shone on this, our first formal visit to British Columbia and to its beautiful capital, Vancouver. My wife and I have traveled extensively in recent years and I can honestly say that I cannot recollect any country nor any city which has welcomed us so warmly, so kindly and so generously as Vancouver. (applause)

I have spoken elsewhere of the almost palpable, psychological change which are detected immediately among My community here. There is a sense of security, a feeling of happiness and well-being which is really very striking amongst so many of the families whom I last met in Uganda living at the mercy of the unpredictable whim of President Amin. These families were expelled at a few hours’ notice and the pride of everything they possessed including losing the citizenship of the country to which they had offered their total allegiance.

It was Canada which opened her arms to receive them, to succour them and to give them a new home and a new country. None of us will ever forget that wonderful gesture of spontaneous goodwill by the government and people of Canada. All of us are determined to repay the kindness which was shown to our people throughout this land and particularly by the province of British Columbia and the city of Vancouver.

To this municipality, Your Worship, we owe the rapid resettlement of several thousand families who found homes, employment and, above all, peace of mind.
In saying this and in paying the most sincere tribute to our Canadian friends, I do not wish to minimize the other side of the equation. To move from one end of the world to the other, almost overnight, to start from the bottom of the ladder again, to become familiar with new customs, new laws and new institutions, was not an easy task. It was a very real challenge as much as I suspect for our women as for our men. It was a new life, but it was a new life which was approached not alone, but with the kindness, the generosity and the help of Canada and the Canadian people.

I would like to say here, that I am proud that the Ismailis were intellectually and physically equipped to deal with the inevitable problems which arose. They have worked hard to support themselves and I think they have learned quickly to become good Canadians. Only six years after the exodus and with the limitations of our relatively small number, the Ismailis are making a positive contribution to Canada’s economic development.

But what is more important is that this is a commitment that they have taken and that they will abide by.

My wife and I have just begun a tour of your country which will take us to Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Toronto. I don’t know what President Zeenat will find as an explanation in Toronto for having selected Vancouver for our capital. But that’s his problem – not mine. (applause)

This is a journey to which we are looking forward with the largest anticipation. Vancouver has given us a wonderful start and on behalf of my wife and of all the Ismailis throughout the world, I want to take this opportunity tonight to thank the people of Canada from the bottom of our hearts for all they have done to help us.

Thank you

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