A compendium of news and events at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.
Updated 10 February 2017
Ali Velshi responds to a question from the audience during the Ismaili Centre International Lecture with moderator Robin Gill of Global News.Sultan Baloo
Burnaby, 30 January 2017 — Emmy-nominated broadcaster Ali Velshi presented the 2017 Ismaili Centre International Lecture on the topic of Mixed Messages: Navigating between Fact, Fiction and Judgement at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.
Co-presented with the Global Reporting Centre and national media partner Global News, Velshi’s lecture examined the role and economy of the news media, journalists and news consumption, while exploring the dangers presented by the current debate over “truth”, “fact”, “alternative fact” and “fake news.”
Following the lecture, Velshi, Chief Business Analyst and Anchor at MSNBC, took part in a discussion with moderator Robin Gill from Global News. They explored the dual responsibilities of the news media, as both witness to current events and as a check and balance on political authority. The lecture concluded with reflections on the changing news landscape and its implications for consumers.
Velshi explained that the onus is partly with the audience to make use of fact-checking services to stem the dissemination of “fake news”, and to be active and informed consumers of news media.
The lecture was attended by over 200 guests, including members of Vancouver’s journalism and media community, and was watched live online by hundreds more at TheIsmaili.org.
Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, explains the impact of the University of Central Asia to leaders of local civil society groups, educational institutions and government, and community members.Sultan Baloo
Burnaby, 10 January 2017 — Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, Executive Chairman of the Board of Trustees for the University of Central Asia (UCA), spoke about the role of the university as an international institution with campuses in the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan.
The Executive Chairman’s presentation highlighted the importance of providing education to rural communities and particularly for mountain societies. He introduced UCA’s academic programming initiatives and shared progress on the development of its campuses, as well as its curriculum and partnership development. The presentation concluded with highlights from the opening of the university’s Naryn campus in the Kyrgyz Republic which took place in October.
Nearly 200 people attended the event, including British Columbia Attorney General Suzanne Anton, Ismaili Council for Canada President Malik Talib, UCA Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr Diana Pauna, Founding Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr Ariff Kachra, as well as leaders from Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia.
Dr Ross Burns presents on the cultural history of Aleppo and its architecture at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.Ismaili Council for Canada
Burnaby, 17 November 2016 — Dr Ross Burns, a career diplomat who served with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, lent his unique and authoritative perspective on the study of the Syrian city of Aleppo and its architecture.
Dr Burns highlighted the cultural history of Aleppo, situating it as a hub of trade, culture and civilisation as well as reaffirming the cultural importance of the built environment. Discussing the various architectural influences brought to Aleppo by its different peoples, he provided a perspective of urban space as a reservoir of the city’s pluralistic heritage and its many cultural encounters.
Focusing on several examples including Aleppo’s citadel, its prestige buildings, monumental structures and main urban corridors, Dr Burns also examined the devastating impact of the ongoing Syrian conflict on Aleppo’s historic sites. He emphasised the importance of post-conflict restoration efforts.
Over 200 people, including members of the diplomatic corps, academia, Vancouver’s museum and artistic community as well as members of the general public and the community, attended the event.
Panelists Deb Thomas, Sandra Singh and Gwen Bird with moderator Scheherazaad Cooper.Shamir Bharmal
Burnaby, 22 October 2016 — What role will the library play in our lives in the ever-evolving digital age? Sandra Singh, Chief Librarian at the Vancouver Public Library, tackled the topic The Future of the Library in the Digital Age at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.
The lecture was followed by a panel discussion that included Deb Thomas, Deputy Chief Librarian of the Burnaby Public Library and Gwen Bird, University Librarian at Simon Fraser University.
Singh spoke to the role of the library as a democratic “third space” — a place where people can come to learn key literacies that extend beyond reading, writing, and numeracy to digital, media, and ethical literacies. She addressed the importance of the library as a physical space where people, and their multiple perspectives, interact directly with one another.
In her comments, Deb Thomas addressed the importance of the physical collection of a community library, given that many of the activities in the space are still centred on actual books. Gwen Bird spoke about the role of the university library as a repository of academic publishing as well as a study space, utilised more for the exchange of ideas between students and academics.
The afternoon offered a reminder that the library is one of the few spaces remaining where individuals can develop their knowledge without the journey being tracked and scrutinised in a world where everything is recorded or kept as data. It is also a place to find accurately researched and curated information about key issues and topics.
BC Minister Mike de Jong, Adam Nanjee, and Ismaili Council President Samir Manji with panelists and speakers at the MaRS Fintech event.Sultan Bhaloo
Burnaby, 6 October 2016 — The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby partnered with MaRS Discovery District, Canada’s largest entrepreneurial and innovations hub, for the national launch of MaRS Financial Technology Canada series. The event attracted over 140 entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, innovators and policy leaders from Vancouver and across Canada.
MaRS Discovery District and the BC Technology Association used the event as a platform to announce a landmark strategic partnership to drive innovation and increase collaboration between Canada’s two largest financial technology markets: Toronto and Vancouver.
British Columbia Minister for Finance Michael de Jong, Ismaili Council for BC President Samir Manji and Adam Nanjee, Group Head of Financial Technology at MaRS welcomed the audience. Minister de Jong spoke about BC’s uniquely positioned economy, full of talent and ingenuity. He encouraged industry leaders to collaborate and form partnerships to develop ideas that can be brought to the global stage, while engaging with government on policy to further catalyse growth in the FinTech sector.
The conversation spilled over to Facebook and Twitter and #FinTechCA became a trending topic across Canada during the event. Over 150 viewers took part in the event through a Periscope live stream.
TogethART participants creating individual pieces during the session at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.Khaleel Meghji
Burnaby, 25 September 2016 — Syrian refugee children and Canadian-raised students came together at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby to take part in TogethART, an arts-based workshop.
Trained artists from Vancouver-based Children of Art led the workshop, assisting participants in using mixed media materials to paint, draw and create unique artwork. The goal of the non-profit organisation is to help bring art into children’s lives.
The event was hosted by a partnership between Children of Art, immigrant services organisation MOSAIC, the British Columbia Muslim Food Bank and the Ismaili Council for BC. It provided a safe, inclusive and fun environment for children to explore artistic expression.
The end result was all the children created new friendships, learned about each other’s cultures and collaborated together to create a beautiful art collage.
Actors from Truth be Told Theatre and by live musicians enacted a life moment in the story of Zarmina Afghani.Ismaili Council for Canada
Burnaby, 12 July 2016 — Through a kaleidoscope of South Asian culture, the Indian Summer Festival creates a space for dialogue through the performing arts, bringing together artists and visionaries from Canada, South Asia and beyond. This year’s theme Border Crossings inspired artists and writers alike to explore borders beyond geography by focusing on the relationships between social, cultural and religious boundaries that exist in society today.
Vancouver’s Truth be Told Theatre explored the theme through a live theatrical and musical project held at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby. Basing their performance on the The Life Game concept that they are known for, the improvisational group, together with a musical trio led by Mohamed Asani, spontaneously re-enacted moments from the life of Zarmina Afghani. She, her parents and seven siblings voyaged across war-torn Afghanistan to reach safe haven in neighbouring Pakistan, with the hopes of one day making their way to Canada.
Through the interpretation of an onstage director and actors, Zarmina’s childhood was depicted through an exploration of her experiences, including the social and cultural challenges she faces both as a woman and as a newcomer to a foreign country. Despite her hardships, she shares her positive philosophy with her friends and family, saying: “If you are going through a dark place in life, hold onto yourself and you will get through that.”
Over 100 people attended the event, which was planned through a partnership between the Indian Summer Festival and the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.
Sufi musical sensation Rajasthan Josh perform in the courtyard of the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.Sultan Baloo
Burnaby, 10 July 2016 — Known for their enchanting melodies inspired by numerous faiths, musical traditions and languages, an ensemble from the noted Sufi music group Rajasthan Josh performed in the courtyard of the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.
The sounds of the nagara drums, the harmonium and rich vocals echoed through the courtyard, as the crowd was carried through a musical journey of Sufi traditions, ranging from the 12th century to the modern day. The group is known for creating musical collectives in collaboration with internationally renowned artists including the Grateful Dead and the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
The ensemble began with a demonstration of the different traditional instruments used by the artists. These included an alghoza, a wooden instrument consisting of two flute pipes and a khartal, an ancient instrument mainly used in devotional and folk songs. After the demonstration, guests experienced a blend of musical mysticism from East and West through a variety of sufi songs.
Over 300 people attended the event, which was a partnership programme with the Indian Summer Festival.
Attendees share a meal at the Ummah Youth Eid Lunch at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.Nabeela Ladha
Burnaby, 9 July 2016 — A diverse group of Muslim youth from across Metro Vancouver came together at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby to commemorate Eid ul-Fitr which marks the end of the month of Ramadan.
The event was a collaborative effort between youth from the British Columbia Muslim Food Bank, Az-Zahraa Islamic Centre, the BC Muslim Association and the Ismaili Students’ Association. Attendees shared a meal and heard from speakers who talked about how their Muslim identities have influenced and shaped their experiences of living, learning, and working in Canada.
The speakers at the inaugural lunch were climate justice activist Maisaloon Al-Ashkar, lawyer and community advocate Hasan Alam, digital strategy consultant Sabrina Meherally, and technology entrepreneur Khalil Jessa. After speaking, they each took part in an engaging question and answer session with the audience.
Grades 9 and 10 students participating in the Connect, Create, Cairo 3D workshop.Ismaili Council for Canada
Vancouver, 19 January 2016 — Over 250 students in grades 9 and 10 were given the opportunity to use 3D printing technology and online design tools to create a city and urban spaces.
The centrepiece of the Connect Create Cairo exhibition is an architectural-scale model of one of Cairo’s historic urban districts that contains Al-Azhar Park and the Cairo Citadel. The model also contains other historic buildings; however, many of the residential streets and neighbourhoods are purposely left empty. The blank spaces are where workshop participants added their own 3D printed buildings, drawing on Cairo’s historic past for inspiration while collaboratively exploring critical issues facing cities and urban spaces everywhere.
3D printing technology, which allows solid objects to be “printed” from a computer file, is ] increasingly recognised for its educational potential and is used at various universities, schools, museums, and libraries. It permits learners of all ages to tinker, experiment and collaborate to solve complex problems and issues. Indeed, students and educators who participated in the workshop were extremely engaged and enthusiastic, with Az-Zahraa Islamic Academy commending the “fabulous learning experience for the students.”
Representatives of AKDN, the Ismaili community and the Government of British Columbia gather at the Ismaili Centre to discuss climate change.Zahra Rahemtulla
Vancouver, 15 January 2015 — British Columbia’s Minister of Environment, the Honourable Mary Polak, together with civil servants from the Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat and Climate Action Secretariat for BC met with Dr Mahmoud Eboo, AKDN Resident Representative for Canada; Malik Talib, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada and Samir Manji, President of the Ismaili Council for BC.
The group, which included other AKDN personnel and subject matter experts from Canada and the United States, discussed collaborative opportunities for anticipating the impact of climate change through the sharing of best practices.
Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan performing at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.Sultan Baloo
Vancouver, 27 September 2015 — Renowned composer and vocalist Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan performed raag compositions inspired by the monsoon season at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.
Khan is considered the custodian of the Delhi gharana (musical style) that traces itself back to Hazrat Amir Khusraw, a 13th century Sufi musician, poet and scholar.
Over 150 guests attended the performance, representing diverse faith and cultural groups in Vancouver, and several commented on the beauty of the sounds and ambiance of the performance. One woman who was new to classical Indian music claimed that she “has found a new way of expressing her faith through the sounds of music.”
Khan performed a number of songs and offered explanations throughout, giving the audience an understanding of the different musical tones, beats and expressions.
Ustad Amjad and Ayaan Ali Khan at the Ismail Centre Burnaby.Ismaili Counci
Vancouver, 13 July 2015 — Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his son Ayaan, visited the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby today. During their tour of the Ismaili Centre, the musicians met with Ismaili Council for British Columbia President Samir Manji and other Jamati leaders.
One of India’s greatest living musicians, Maestro Amjad Ali Khan is the unrivalled master of the sarod, a lute-like instrument with nineteen fretless strings. Born to music legend Haafiz Ali Khan, Amjad gave his first recital at age six and was a national celebrity by his teens. He has recorded dozens of genre-defining albums and received an impressive collection of awards.
Vancouver, 28 May 2015 — The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby hosted a full-day conference for the Broadcast Educators Association of Canada, a national organisation dedicated to promoting excellence in media education.
Al Tompkins was the keynote speaker at the conference. He is one of Canada’s most requested journalism trainers and teachers of TV writing and storytelling and social media and online storytelling for national broadcasters like the CBC, CTV and Global Television.
The conference provided professional development for faculty and administrators of provincially accredited colleges and universities in Canada in the areas of radio, television, broadcast journalism and new media technologies.
Members from St Clements Anglican Church in the courtyard of the Ismaili Centre Burnaby.Ismaili Council for Canada
Vancouver, 12 April 2015 — Members from the St Clements Anglican Church visited the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby for the first time today.
During their tour of the Centre, the visitors expressed awe at the understated beauty of the prayer hall and exterior courtyard, and commented that they felt a profound presence of deep spirituality and reverence for the Divine, for humanity and for the environment.
After the tour, the congregation from the Church met with Jamati leaders and learned more about the institutions of the Ismaili Imamat and the work of the Ismaili Council for British Columbia.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper receives a tour of the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver. Sultan BalooCanadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper receives a tour of the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver.Sultan Baloo
Vancouver, 21 March 2015 — The Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, visited the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver today. The visit was a unique opportunity for the Prime Minister to learn more about Ismaili Centres as ambassadorial hubs, representing the Shia Ismaili community's attitude towards the Muslim faith and modern life.
The Prime Minister, who opened the Ismaili Centre in Toronto last September in the presence of Mawlana Hazar Imam, complimented the architecture of the Vancouver Ismaili Centre. He remarked that Ismaili Centres in Canada extend a hand of friendship and understanding to enhance relationships among faith and cultural communities, government and civil society.
Dr Amyn Sajoo speaking at the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver. Sultan BalooDr Amyn Sajoo speaking at the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver.Sultan Baloo
Vancouver, 19 March 2015 — At the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver, Dr Amyn Sajoo, Scholar-in-Residence at Simon Fraser University’s Centre for the Comparative Study of Muslim Societies and Cultures, conducted an interactive session on the topic of “Sectarianism: Ethical Dilemmas Facing Muslims”.
Attended by members of the Jamat, the session offered a platform to understand, discuss and respond to ethical challenges faced by Muslims regarding sectarianism, focusing on the current conflicts in the Middle East and relating to the Western portrayal of Islam.
British Columbia minister leads roundtable discussion with South Asian professionals at the Ismaili Centre in VancouverThe Honourable Teresa Wat leads a roundtable discussion with British Columbia’s South Asian business professionals. Sultan BalooThe Honourable Teresa Wat leads a roundtable discussion with British Columbia’s South Asian business professionals.Sultan Baloo
Vancouver, 17 March 2015 — The Honourable Teresa Wat, British Columbia’s Minister for International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia-Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism, led a roundtable discussion with the province’s South Asian business professionals. The event was organised by the Multicultural Advisory Council of British Columbia and the provincial Ministry of International Trade, and hosted at the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver.
Parin Dossa signing her books at the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver.Sultan Baloo
Parin Dossa signing her books at the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver. Sultan Baloo
Vancouver, 27 November 2014 — Dr Parin Dossa, Professor of Anthropology and Associate Member in the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University, launched her book Afghanistan Remembers: Gendered Narrations of Violence and Culinary Practices at the Ismaili Centre.
During her presentation, Professor Dossa spoke about the importance of acknowledging the impact of violence on the familial lives of Afghan women along with their attempts at recovery. She also called on the audience to recognise and bear witness to deeper forms of violence.
Informed by her own story of family migration and loss, Professor Dossa’s new book is a poignant ethnographic account of the trauma of war.
Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell delivers an Ismaili Centre Lecture in Vancouver. Azim VerjeeFormer Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell delivers the annual Ismaili Centre Lecture at the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver.Azim Verjee
Vancouver, 15 November 2014 — Delivering an Ismaili Centre Lecture on the topic of Building Civil Societies: The Role of Women Leaders, the Right Honourable Kim Campbell gave an engaging, thought-provoking and witty speech by drawing upon her own experiences as a female leader and citing the growing body of research on gender balance in leadership.
Ms Campbell wholly exemplifies the female leader, having been the first woman to become Prime Minister of Canada as well as the first female Defense Minister and Minister of Justice in Canada. The lecture event drew a diverse range of guests including government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, the judiciary, academia, civil society leaders, and students. As women still struggle between career and family, and gender roles and equality are being talked about more than ever before, Ms Campbell’s insightful discourse could not have come at a better time.
M.G. Vassanji speaking with Zainub Verjee at the launch his new memoir, And Home Was Kariakoo. Sultan BalooM.G. Vassanji speaking with Zainub Verjee at the launch his new memoir, "And Home Was Kariakoo".Sultan Baloo
Vancouver, 27 October 2014 — Giller Prize winner and bestselling author M.G. Vassanji launched his new memoir, And Home Was Kariakoo, at the Ismaili Centre in Vancouver. The acclaimed writer engaged in a dialogue with Zainub Verjee in which he discussed life in East Africa and the personal experiences that led to the writing of his memoir. During the reception, audience members also had a chance to speak with Vassanji about the current book as well as his previous publications.
21 February 2014 — Thirty-seven students from Senator Reid Elementary School in Surrey, British Columbia attended an Aga Khan Museum Enlightened Encounters workshop held at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby. Facilitated by Museum staff, the session featured an exhibit of reproductions from an illustrated manuscript of Nasir’s Ethics. Following the workshop, the students received a tour of the Ismaili Centre.
Visitors take in an exhibition on Nasir’s Ethics, a manuscript in the Aga Khan Museum collection. Hakam Bhaloo
21 February 2014 — The Aga Khan Museum brought their Enlightened Encounters initiative to the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby. Reflecting the diversity of the Museum's programmes, the event offered insight into the range of programming that will take place at the Toronto-based Museum when it opens later this year.
Aga Khan Museum Director and CEO Henry S. Kim introduced the event, and Amirali Alibhai, Head of Performing Arts, spoke about the Museum’s unique Performing Arts programme. The talks were followed with a performance by renowned sitar player Mohamed Assani.
A small exhibition focused on Nasir's Ethics, a manuscript in the Museum’s collection that was copied in the court workshops of the Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great around 1590. The exhibition examined the practical philosophy of the document, which addresses a broad range of concepts, from justice and love, to ideas about educating children and good government.
In February 2014, the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby hosted Enlightened Encounters, an initiative of the Aga Khan Museum. Hakam Bhaloo
20 February 2014 — Ten Alberta and British Columbia teachers in the Secondary Teachers Education Programme (STEP) took part in an interactive session with staff from the Aga Khan Museum, including Museum Director Henry Kim, Patricia Bentley, Amirali Alibhai, and Sarah Beem-Borg. The session was part of the Museum’s Enlightened Encounters initiative, taking place at the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby.