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Speech by the Honourable Henry Bell-Irving
Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia

At the Foundation Ceremony of
The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby
Monday, 26 July 1982

Your Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, Your Highness Begum Salimah Aga Khan, Honourable Senator Ray Perrault, Honourable Deputy Premier Grace McCarthy, Your Worship Mayor Lewarne, ladies and gentlemen, distinguished persons all,

My wife and I are delighted to be with you today for several reasons. May I first give thanks and congratulations to the remarkable staff work which we have been witness of that has led to this day. Tremendous job of work, and a small personal note of thanks to Farouk Verjee, who has done a great job in getting me to the right place at the right time.

As the representative in British Columbia of Her Majesty The Queen of Canada, I think that it is most fitting that I should have this honour of welcoming to British Columbia once again, Their Highnesses the Prince Karim Aga Khan and the Begum Salimah.

It's important that Canadians should be aware and thus fully appreciative of the enormous influence, both spiritual and temporal, exercised by the Aga Khan, with the constant support of his lovely Begum. The benefits extend far beyond the confines of his devoted Ismaili congregation.

We are delighted to be part of this celebration of the Silver Jubilee of His Highness' assumption of the Imamat of the Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims, and to be with you on this historic occasion. The commencement of construction of the Jamatkhana and Centre, which is to rise on this site as a beautiful and lasting reminder of this Jubilee, as a spiritual and no doubt social centre, is truly a historic occasion for many of your Ismaili community who came to make their home in British Columbia just ten years ago. We celebrate also this Canadian decade, the first Canadian decade of the Ismaili majority population in British Columbia with high hopes for the years ahead.

This land, ladies and gentlemen, is a rich land, rich indeed in the natural resources of the world. It is also free, every person is free to earn and enjoy a living in line with his or her talents, initiative and hard work. The natural resources of our land are not by themselves able to keep our population in the high standard of living to which we have become accustomed.

The production of wealth requires a constant input, initiative and hard work from those of us fortunate enough to live in this magnificent land, the land and its inhabitants working together.

A large majority of your Ismaili community has brought with it a strong work ethic, and, in many cases, a remarkable business acumen. May I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, to guard and keep these attributes as a major contribution to your new country, Canada. Don't give them up.

We talk of the Canadian mosaic, the multiplicity of cultures and ethnic backgrounds which are encouraged to flourish side by side in Canada. This is much in evidence in British Columbia.

It is important, however, that we should all communicate with each other. Let's strive constantly to make friends among all our fellow British Columbians, all Canadians, no matter where they may have come from.

In the name of Her Majesty The Queen of Canada, I salute your Highnesses, with warm congratulations on your many good works throughout the world, and may good fortune attend all your devoted Ismaili community in British Columbia.

I now have the great honour to join His Highness the Aga Khan in unveiling this plaque which will signify commencement of construction of the Ismaili Muslim Jamatkhana and Centre, which will be an inspiration for many generations to come, to this community in the service of Islam and Canada.