In a grand white tent on the site of a museum to be named in his honour, the Aga Khan formally accepted Canadian citizenship from Prime Minister Stephen Harper Friday.
The Aga Khan, only the fifth person to be awarded honourary citizenship, described it as a generous and gracious gesture as he stood with the Prime Minister before a crowd of dignitaries and several hundred members of the Ismaili community. He joins a list of honourary citizens that includes Nelson Mandela, Aung San Su Kyi and the Dalai Lama, among others.
"I have always felt very much at home in Canada, but never more than at this moment," the Aga Khan said.
The ceremony was held to mark the laying of the foundation of the Aga Khan Museum, which will hold the Aga Khan's personal collection of Islamic art, and will be the largest museum of its kind in the English-speaking world. It will also be the site of the new Ismaili Centre of Toronto, as well as a 75,000 square metre park, designed by Vladimir Djurovic. All three will be located on a site in North York that once belonged to the Bata Shoe Company.
"In a world in which some speak of a growing clash of civilizations, we believe the museum will help address what is not so much a clash of civilizations, as it is a clash of ignorances," the Aga Khan said.