The University of Alberta has received a gift from His Highness, the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims world-wide. The gift amounts to just over $25-Million and is to be put towards a garden park which will be ready for opening in 2018.
The park itself, will be the second Aga Khan garden in Canada, as it follows in the footsteps of the Aga Khan Park in Toronto which opened in 2015.
The Aga Khan Garden in Alberta will be located 15 minutes Southwest of Edmonton at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden and will cover 4.8 hectares of land. Being the 11th Garden in the world supported by the Aga Khan, the garden is a symbol of friendship.
The Aga Khan has had a long-lasting relationship with Canada. In 2010, he became the 5th person granted honourary citizenship in Canada. He gave a remarkable address to Parliament in 2014, speaking of the need for global ties and friendship, and in 2016, he was honoured with the Adrienne Clarkson Prize for Global Citizenship.
With regard to the future University of Alberta Garden, the Aga Khan states that on Canada’s 150th anniversary, “it is appropriate that we are creating together, a Mughal-Style garden which echoes the great contributions that Muslims have made to world heritage”. The Mughals built the Taj Mahal and Humayan’s Tomb as well as the gardens surrounding them. He states also, “The creation of this garden therefore, depends on the existing partnership and illustrates the pluralistic nature of this country. Measures like this should be encouraged, both here and abroad”.
Video tour of University of Alberta’s future Aga Khan garden:
The Aga Khan has asked garden designer, Thomas Woltz and his company to research other Mughal Islamic gardens, incorporating plants and topography indigenous to Northern Alberta. It is of note, that the garden, will have secluded forest paths, seasonally-changing terraces, water features streaming geometrically into wetlands, and tremendous orchards of Northern Alberta origin.
President of the University of Alberta, David Turpin, states,”We are honoured and grateful that the Aga Khan, a champion of openness and understanding between cultures, selected the University of Alberta for this wonderful gift”.
The garden will be a place to connect with nature and be an inspirational place where “cultural understanding will grow”.
It is hoped that the addition of this garden at the heart of the University of Alberta Botanic Garden will increase visitor numbers from 75,000 visitors annually, to as many as 160,000 visitors per year.
This article was written by Donna Murchie.