Rachna Singh, Parliamentary Secretary for Anti-Racism Initiatives, has released the following statement in honour of the 50th anniversary of the Ismaili Muslim community’s first mass settlement in Canada:
“Today, we join Ismaili Muslims in celebrating 50 years since their community’s first mass migration to Canada. This significant milestone is an opportunity to reflect on the numerous contributions Ismaili Muslims have made to our communities and learn more about their history.
“The mass migration was the result of expulsion by Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, whose discriminatory goal was to remove people of Asian descent from the country. The Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Nizari Ismaili branch of Islam, turned to Canada for help. More than 6,000 Ismaili Muslims were welcomed into the country.
“Today, there are approximately 20,000 Ismaili Muslims in B.C. and the community is renowned for its philanthropy. The community adheres to a tradition of giving: giving of one’s time, talents and material resources to enhance the community around them. Whether cleaning up parks, fundraising for local charities or donating to neighbourhood food banks, their long-standing approach to building community and helping others makes British Columbia a better province for everyone.
“On this special anniversary, I encourage British Columbians to reflect on the struggles the first Ismaili Muslims faced when they were forced to flee Uganda. Although this racism occurred decades ago, we know racism is still very much alive in B.C. and around the world.
“Our government is committed to addressing the ongoing issues of systemic racism and discrimination in British Columbia through initiatives such as the Anti-Racism Data Act, which will help to identify systemic barriers in government programs and services.
“We are also working to introduce the broader anti-racism act next year, which will help make B.C. a safer, more welcoming and equitable province for everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity or faith. And we’re developing an anti-racism action plan for kindergarten to Grade 12, to improve learning experiences for racialized students and equip teachers with the tools to better identify and address systemic barriers for Indigenous, Black and students of colour in our education system.
“But we cannot tackle racism alone. We all have a responsibility to make British Columbia a safe and inclusive place to live for everyone. I encourage all British Columbians to learn more about the Ismaili Muslim community in B.C. It is through understanding and listening to each other that we can build a better, more inclusive province for everyone.”
To learn more about Ismaili Muslim community in B.C., please visit the Ismaili Centre – Vancouver website: https://the.ismaili/ismaili-centre-vancouver