Ismaili Volunteers Through Time | The Ismaili Canada

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Ismaili Volunteers Through Time

A timeline of the past century of Ismaili volunteerism

Omar Rawji
Published September 30, 2020
The founders of the IVC in Bombay. Photo: Courtesy of Hussain Jasani (IIS, London).

1919: The Ismaili Volunteer Corps (IVC) is founded in Bombay, India.

1924: Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah, Aga Khan III, pens the words “Work No Words” as the motto for the Ismaili Recreation Club in Bombay. The motto is later adopted by IVC in various countries. 

1927: IVC volunteers save many lives during torrential rains and floods in Gujarat.

Volunteers who travelled to Saurashtra, Gujarat, during the 1927 floods. Photo: Courtesy of Hussain Jasani (IIS, London).
The IVC band in 1927. Photo: Courtesy of Hussain Jasani (IIS, London).

1932: Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah appoints Prince Aly Khan as Colonel of the international IVC.

1945: During World War II, IVC participates in air raid precaution activities and helps the injured and homeless in India.

Prince Aly Khan in full IVC uniform. Photo: Courtesy of Hussain Jasani (IIS, London).

1972: IVC is established in Canada.

1973: Canada’s first IVC Major is appointed. For Khushiali, IVC forms a cooking committee that prepares a celebratory meal for Toronto's Jamat of 3,000.

Early members of the Canadian IVC. Photo: Ontario Communication Team Archive.

2007: Time and Knowledge Nazrana (TKN) is launched during His Highness the Aga Khan’s Golden Jubilee. Volunteers offer time and knowledge to assist Jamati and AKDN institutions as a form of nazrana—an unconditional gift and a gesture of love and homage to the Imam in commemoration of an epochal event.

2008: Thousands of volunteers plan and run the Golden Jubilee Games in Nairobi, Kenya, bringing together Ismaili athletes and spectators from around the world.

2016: Thousands of volunteers plan and run the Jubilee Games in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as a part of the commemorative events for the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee. 

The Canadian women's soccer team after winning the gold medal at the Jubilee Games. Photo: Omar Rawji.

2016: One of the Aga Khan’s major Diamond Jubilee initiatives is the elimination of poverty in the Jamat. In Canada, volunteers launch the Quality of Life program to tackle this goal. By 2018, 1,300 volunteers are involved.

2017: Ismaili volunteers offer TKN during the Aga Khan’s Diamond Jubilee. Between the launch of TKN in 2007 and March 2020, over 6,800 Canadian volunteers complete more than 13,000 assignments in Canada and abroad.  

2018: Jubilee Arts is launched as a Diamond Jubilee initiative, providing opportunities for Ismaili artists to showcase and develop their talents. Volunteers worldwide organize regional and national festivals culminating in a global festival in Lisbon, Portugal, in July.

Volunteers pose with the Jubilee Arts Festival sign in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Salim Nensi.

2019: Ismailis worldwide celebrate the IVC centenary.

2020: Ismaili volunteers help the community stay connected during the pandemic through efforts such as Ismaili TV. In Canada, Ismaili CIVIC volunteers sew and donate thousands of face masks, gather donations for food banks, launch a blood drive and volunteer for Kids Help Phone.


This article originally appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of The Ismaili Canada.

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