The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby, Vancouver

I am very much fond of digital Architecture collection of monuments and Centres. I have digital photographs of Ismaili Centres all around the world which i added in my collection few years ago. In the past, few years, I have been collecting digital photograph of Ismaili Centers that is built around the world. The Ismaili Muslims are  a community of ethnically and culturally diverse people living in over 25 countries around the world, united in their allegiance to His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan as the 49th hereiditary  Imam (Spiritual leader) and direct descendant of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family).  The Ismaili community plays an active role in the community. They work hand in hand with other community organziation to alleviate poverty. Once a year, World Partnership Walk is being held by the Ismaili Community to raise funds for the third world countries. This event is supported by many sponsors and local agencies. His Highness Aga Khan have built Ismaili centres around the world; for instance, The Ismaili Centre in dushanbe, The Ismaili Centre in London, and The Ismaili Centre in Dubai. However, My focus is The Ismaili Centre in Burnaby; but recently, another Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Museum and Park is being build in Toronto. I was invited to the ground breaking ceremony of The Ismaili Centre and Aga Khan Meseum and Park in Toronto in 2010 and visited The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby few times.  The Ismaili Centre, Burnabay, is significant monument because it was first centre built for the Ismaili Community and its purpose was to get wider public involve in dialogue of faith and community building. I am a member of Ismaili Community and the digital Architecture photographs (CD) is a gift from my friend.

The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby

In July 1982, Lieutenant-Governor of British Columbia, the Honourable Henry Bell-Irving, in the presence of His Highness Aga Khan, Mayor Lewarne of Burnaby and other distinguished guests, the Foundation Ceremony was performed. After three years, the Opening Ceremony of the Ismaili centre, Burnaby was performed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The Centre has many functions such as it hosts a wide range of events and its doors are open to the wider public. The Ismaili Centre launched a speaker series and Karen Armstrong, who is a prominent religious historian was the keynote speaker for a lecture focusing on the relevance of the life of the holy prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) in our present time. Furthermore, The Centre between September-December 2002, opened space for the mayors and staff of all municipalities in the Lower mainland for board meetings. Another function of the centre is that the multi-functional Social Hall facilitates government forums, citizenship ceremonies, weddings, and other events. It has hosted a number of high-profile guests, including Her Excellency The Right Honourable MichaĆ«lle Jean, Governor General of Canada, and His Royal Highness Prince Andrew.
His Highness Aga Khan and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney at the Opening Ceremony of Ismaili Centre

The Architecture of The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby

Sandblasted coral and rose marble panels inlaid with brass are used to form the mihrab, the Muslim architectural indication of the direction of prayer. Photo: Garry Otte
Thirteen octagonal domes with brass circle rings provide natural light. Photo: Garry Otte

The centrepiece of the Council Chambers is a Carrara marble table from Italy. Photo: Gary Otte
The Ismailli Centre is the synthesis of Islamic architecture and contemporary buidling design. The prinicple is steep in the tradition of the faith, and at the same time co-exist with modern time. The purpose of the Centre is to provide a religious and social facility for the community, " blending harmoniously and discreetly with the environment, adding yet another dimension to the varied architecture of the Lower Mainland".  The calligraphy is constantly used and its the reminder of spiritual content through its common design. According to Archetic the basic forms are balanced and ruled by geometry and there is a sense of stability, tranquillity and equillibrium. Space is framed, with each area being defined; a physical context being constructed for each activity in daily life with a definite delineation between privacy and community, areas in light and in shadow, small and large spaces, and interiors and exteriors.The Architect is built by  Bruno Freschi Vancouver born who himself hails from an Italian Catholic background. This illustrates the diversity of the Canadian way of life.
A detailed view of the window pane reveals intricate Islamic geometric patterns. Photo: Garry Otte
A detailed view of the window pane reveals intricate Islamic geometric patterns. Photo: Garry Otte

Speech at the Foundation Ceremony of the Ismaili Centre, Burnaby

Speech by His Highness Aga Khan
At the Foundation Ceremony of
The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre, Burnaby
Monday, 26 July 1982

Your Excellency,
The Honourable Senator Perrault,
The Honourable Mrs. Grace McCarthy,
Deputy Premier of British Columbia,
Your Worship The Mayor of Burnaby,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
...."Today is a particularly significant and, indeed, happy occasion for the Ismaili community in Canada and for my wife and for me.
I am most grateful to Your Excellency, the Lieutenant Governor, for honouring us with your presence and for performing the Foundation Ceremony of the Burnaby Jamatkhana.
Your presence, Your Excellency, and the presence of so many other distinguished guests underlines the understanding and cooperation that has been so generously extended to my community. It is a demonstration of the tradition of religious tolerance and the right of freedom of worship which are both allowed such eloquent expression in Canadian society.
“The significance of this ceremony is further enhanced by the fact that this is the first Jamatkhana to be built in North America — in Canada, a country of the New World which has extended the hand of friendship to countless peoples from all over the world, including Ismailis, welcoming them when turmoil, racialism, bigotry or envy were destroying their lives.
And while Canada may not be unique in welcoming the victimised to her shores, where she stands very nearly alone, is in her encouragement to her new citizens to maintain their traditions and customs. An encouragement that is, in my view, a particularly wise and mature expression of democratic freedom.
As a consequence, Canadian Ismailis have become, in a relatively short span of time, fully integrated into this society and today they play a responsible role as citizens of this country. While it is true that they have been assisted in this by their industry and strong traditional self-help, none of this would have been possible without the understanding extended to them”.
The new building will stand in strongly landscaped surroundings. It will face a courtyard with foundations and a garden. Its scale, its proportions and the use of water will serve to create a serene and contemplative environment. This will be a place of congregation, of order, of peace, of prayer, of hope, of humility, and of brotherhood. From it should come forth those thoughts, those sentiments, those attitudes, which bind men together and which unite. It has been conceived and will exist in a mood of friendship, courtesy, and harmony.
While the building will be an important focus in the social and religious life of the local Ismaili Community in Burnaby, it is my hope, a very deep hope, that it will become a symbol of a growing understanding in the West of the real meaning of Islam....His Highness Aga Khan"
The speech by His Highness Aga Khan illustrates the importance of building community centres for the bettement and development of the community but also to create dialogue between different communities. TheCentres are open to wider public to come and have discussion about social and religious debate and or host speaker series. His Highness Aga Khan have built many Ismaili Centre around the world in order to send the message of peace, tolerance, and to open dialogue between different faiths and communities. I have build my digital collection by buying CDs which contents photographsh of these Centres and or gifted as token of appreciation. I personally, believe, it is esstential for every individual of different communities to explore each other's thoughts and believes and experience the cultures of each other only then we can reduce the gap between each other.

The Ismaili Magazine, July edition
The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby CD


  1. I had known that there were many Ismaili Centers throughout the world and Canada. However, I was never really aware of the mandate and specific goals of the centers. I assumed like with many communities that, these were simply meeting places or centers for the local members.

    It is great to hear that the centers are built with the purpose of creating a place for the Ismaili community of the Lower Mainland within their greater environment and help to bridge the gap between this community and the “New World”. This is important as, Canada, really only started being home to substantial amounts of various Muslim groups since the 1960’s; fifty some years are not that long of a time in the lens of history.

    Indeed, Centers such as this that support the local community and reach out to the greater community are key in creating a place for new groups, and creating a voice in the greater narrative of our county. In time, perhaps in another 50 years, this Center will be a contributing to the Historical Consciousness of the Ismaili community and some other Islamic groups and the greater public in the Lower Mainland.

  2. I find it interesting and a good thing that centres like these are supposred to create a dialogue between cultures. This seems to have growning importance through the years. And like what 11223344 said, hopefully this centre can create some great history for the future.