An esteemed conservationist, Prince Hussain is a photographer of ocean life and promotes ecological values and consciousness. His exhibitions aim to inspire admiration for wildlife and the desire to protect it.
"The goal of my work in conservation photography is to raise awareness, educate and inspire change," Prince Hussain said. "Generally, people don’t protect things they don’t care about. In the end, we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. And we will understand only what we are taught."
Dignitaries from the University of Waterloo and government officials attended the event, including Ontario’s Lieutenant Governor, The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell.
Following the presentation, Prince Hussain and Dr. Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo, engaged in an on-stage conversation centred on Prince Hussain’s lifelong passion for wildlife and efforts to help protect marine ecosystems through his not-for-profit organization, Focused on Nature.
"For close to 50 years, the Aga Khan Development Network and the Aga Khan University have fostered partnerships with post-secondary institutions in Canada, including the University of Waterloo," Goel said.
"These partnerships are based on shared values and approaches to sustainable development that includes building economic, social and cultural capacity around the world. One important way that we can build this capacity is by events like today, where we can discuss important issues such as biodiversity and sustainability," Goel continued.
The event concluded with a heartfelt expression of gratitude from the University’s administration, recognizing Prince Hussain’s unwavering dedication to humanitarian causes and environmental preservation. Dr. Jean Becker, vice-president for Indigenous Relations, presented Prince Hussain with a work of Indigenous art to commemorate the occasion.
Prince Hussain Aga Khan is the son of His Highness the Aga Khan, the 49 hereditary Imam and spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community. The event at the University of Waterloo was presented in collaboration with the Ismaili Council for Canada. Most of the audience in the packed theatre was made up of members of the Canadian Ismaili Muslim community, some of whom travelled from across Canada to attend. Many attendees were youth, including Ismaili post-secondary students from Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.
"On behalf of the Canadian Ismaili Muslim community, we would like to thank the University of Waterloo for the warm welcome," said Ameerally Kassim-Lakha, president of the Ismaili Council for Canada. "It is our pleasure to be here to honour the work of Prince Hussain Aga Khan. The exhibition celebrates the majesty and the magic of the ocean and is a lasting testimony to Prince Hussain’s lifelong commitment to the causes of conservation and environmental stewardship."
Along with the presentation of Prince Hussain’s documentary, the event also included artistic performances. Kitchener Grand Philharmonic Choir performed a song called "Water: an environmental oratorio," a new piece centring on the importance of conservation. Further performances were from the Ontario Ismaili Youth Eastern Ensemble, who performed an Eastern Classical rendition of "Child of the Ocean," a piece composed in honour of Prince Hussain.
Prince Hussain’s visit was an invaluable reminder to those present of the immense responsibility we share in safeguarding our planet and its transcendent beauty.