It is with great pride and gratitude that we celebrate Aga Khan Foundation Canada’s 40th anniversary this month.
As part of the global Aga Khan Development Network, AKFC was established in July 1980 with an ambitious agenda to work with Canadians to improve quality of life for millions around the world.
In partnership with the Government of Canada, we have invested in women and men over the past four decades to help build resilient communities and strong institutions for generations to come.
From the mountain ranges of Central Asia to the coasts of East Africa, these collaborations have tackled poverty on all fronts, including through better access to health care, more effective education systems and literacy, improved incomes and livelihoods, and vibrant civil society. In all of our work, we seek to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized – particularly women and girls – and empower them with opportunities to reach their full potential.
These efforts have been sustained these 40 years by the thousands of Canadians who volunteer their time and talent, raise funds, and tell their stories about the role we all play as global citizens. Our achievements have been fuelled by the dedication and conviction of our supporters, and we are thankful for their confidence in us as we work together towards a more prosperous, peaceful, and pluralist world. We are similarly in debt to generations of leaders who have governed, stewarded, and guided AKFC through these last decades with wisdom and care.
We have made much progress over the last 40 years, but the current pandemic reminds us of the urgent and ongoing need for investments in the developing world. Now more than ever, it is important that our work of strengthening systems, institutions, and communities for times of fragility moves ahead. Indeed, redoubling our efforts in this regard may well be the most important way of commemorating this milestone.
In 2012, His Highness the Aga Khan visited Canada to receive an honorary degree from the University of Ottawa. He ended his speech on that occasion with the following reflection: “In my experience, a country’s standing in our contemporary world is no longer recognized by what it can achieve for itself, but by what it can do for others. In this context, Canada has truly become a great, world power.”
What a privilege for AKFC, and all who have supported it, to have made a difference in people’s lives over the last 40 years by bringing the best of Canada to the world.
Thank you for all you do for AKFC and for the global community.
Khalil Z. Shariff
Chief Executive Officer
Aga Khan Foundation Canada