Salma Lakhani, next lieutenant-governor of Alberta, Canada

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Salma Lakhani, next lieutenant-governor of Alberta, Canada

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Liberals name Salma Lakhani as Alberta lieutenant-governor, first Muslim in Canadian history to hold role

Lakhani will be the 19th person to assume the position since Alberta was established in 1905

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Published on: June 30, 2020 | Last Updated: June 30, 2020 6:01 PM EDT

Salma Lakhani, who has been named as next lieutenant-governor of Alberta.

OTTAWA — The Liberal government has named Salma Lakhani as next lieutenant-governor of Alberta, making her the first-ever Muslim to hold the ceremonial position in Canadian history.

Lakhani has lived in Edmonton for more than 40 years, after her family was expelled from her native Uganda in 1972. The Ismaili Muslim has long served as a community advocate focused on issues including education, health care, immigration and human rights, and has “dedicated her life to helping people in need and those who face obstacles to success in our society,” according to a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Lakhani will be the 19th person to assume the position since Alberta was established in 1905. She will succeed Lois Mitchell, who was appointed by former Governor General David Johnston in 2015.

“Ms. Lakhani is devoted to supporting people in her community, from new immigrants and young people, to women and families,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a written statement. “As Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, I know she will serve the people of her province and our country well, and continue to be a source of inspiration for all Canadians.”

In recent decades, she has supported various non-profit and human rights organizations, including the Aga Khan Foundation Canada, Kids Kottage, the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, and Sorrentino’s Compassion House. She has also served as a board director for the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights for a decade.

Lakhani won the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 for her work in the community. She also assumed a mentorship role under NorQuest College’s Youth in Transition program, which helps non English-speaking students enter post-secondary studies.

She received an honours degree in Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Manchester.
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Salma Lakhani appointed as first Muslim Lieutenant Governor in Canadian history
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On 30 June 2020, Salma Lakhani, a member of the Jamat in Edmonton, was named as the next Lieutenant Governor of Alberta by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Lieutenant Governors are personal representatives of Her Majesty the Queen in their respective provinces. They fulfill the roles and functions of the Queen, including granting Royal Assent to provincial laws, and in the province of Alberta, inducting individuals into the Alberta Order of Excellence. Lieutenant Governors are appointed by the Governor General of Canada on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.

Salma is a passionate advocate of community and a tireless champion of civic engagement. Her activities over several decades have spanned the fields of education, health care, human rights, and support for new immigrants, with a focus on enhancing the wellbeing of marginalised segments of society.

This appointment is particularly significant as Salma will be the first-ever Muslim to hold the position of Lieutenant Governor in Canada. In his announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that Salma is "a proud Ismaili Muslim" whose dedication to championing opportunities for those facing barriers is shaped by the values of pluralism and inclusion.

“In line with the Jamat’s tradition of service to the societies in which we live, Salma has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to advocating for those in need,” said Ameerally Kassim-Lakha, President of the Ismaili Council for Canada. “On the historic occasion of Salma’s appointment as Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor, I offer my warmest congratulations on behalf of the Jamat and its institutions”

Similar to the stories of many other Ismaili families in Canada, Salma and her husband Zaheer moved to Edmonton, Alberta, in 1977 as stateless individuals, following the expulsion of their families from Uganda. Throughout her time in Edmonton, Salma has been a community advocate and active participant in civic life. She was a founding member of NorQuest College's "1000 Women: A Million Possibilities" movement where she served for 10 years, and one of the first mentors in the college's Youth in Transition programme.

In addition, Salma served for 10 years as a Board Director for the John Humphrey Center for Peace and Human Rights. She has also supported a range of initiatives, including the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, Kids Kottage, Sorrentino's Compassion House, and the Aga Khan Foundation Canada.

When asked about her community service, Salma remarked that Mawlana Hazar Imam’s guidance is to serve in the communities in which the Jamat lives and that her and her family’s philosophy of service has followed that ethos.

Salma's community and civil society endeavours were recognised when she was awarded with the Alberta Centennial Medal in 2005, the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012, and an Honorary Diploma from NorQuest College in 2019.

In her acceptance address for the Honorary Diploma, Salma said: “His Highness the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the Ismaili Muslims, who has been a great source of inspiration in all that I do, said in a speech: ‘The Islamic Ethic is that, if God has given you the capacity or good fortune to be a privileged individual in society, you have a moral responsibility to society.’”

When asked about her goals for her office as Lieutenant-Governor, she responded: “My philosophy for community building has always been very simple. If you believe in a cause, and you think you can make a difference, then jump in with two feet and give it your best.”

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Installation of Salma Lakhani as Alberta's Lieutenant Governor
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On Wednesday, August 26, Salma Lakhani will be installed as the 19th Lieutenant Governor of Alberta. She takes on the new role following longstanding service as a community leader and volunteer.

Watch the ceremony live on the Legislative Assembly of Alberta website https://www.assembly.ab.ca/ or on the Legislative Assembly of Alberta Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LegAssemblyofAB/?ref=hl, Twitter or YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/AlbertaLeg ... irmation=1.

https://iicanada.org/events/community-e ... tent=40235
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Oct 18, 2020 • Last Updated 3 hours ago • 3 minute read
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EDMONTON — Salma Lakhani may be the first Muslim and South Asian lieutenant-governor in Canada, but that’s not what she wants to be known for.

Alberta’s 19th lieutenant-governor says she wants to use her role as a representative of the Queen to break down divisive barriers.

“Alberta has had a lot of firsts,” the soft-spoken Lakhani, 68, said during an interview at the lieutenant-governor’s official residence in Edmonton’s Old Glenora area.

“We had the first lieutenant-governor of Chinese descent in Alberta, the first Indigenous lieutenant-governor in all of Canada came from Alberta, and the first Muslim mayor for 1/8a3/8 large city is in Alberta,” she said.

“I’m happy that we are evolving … and I’m a part of that process (where) we don’t have these firsts anymore. To say a ‘first’ is a barrier we have to break down. (Instead, we should say), ‘She got appointed on her own merit and she happens to be Muslim.”‘

Alberta’s legislature is to resume sitting on Tuesday, and Lakhani said she hopes to draw from the adversities she has faced in her life to unite Albertans and find common ground. Sworn in to her five-year term in August, she is still figuring out exactly how she will do that.

“I want to go out and meet Albertans,” Lakhani said. “I want to listen to their stories, their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations, and I want to learn from them before I actually set down concrete goals.”

Born in Kampala, Uganda, Lakhani had a modest upbringing with her parents and two brothers.

It wasn’t until she was studying biochemistry in England in 1972 that she found out Ugandans of Asian origin were being expelled from her home country.

“We literally had to leave our house keys, our car keys, close our businesses and leave the keys there.”

In 1977, Lakhani found herself in Edmonton with her husband who was completing his medical residency at the University of Alberta. Since then, they have called the province their home.

The biggest lesson Lakhani says she learned when she was uprooted from her life in Uganda is the power of education.

“Education really helps to lift people up. That’s something that I’ve always carried with me through my own life journey. I was expelled from my country, we lost everything, but we didn’t lose our education.”

Her passion for education motivated Lakhani to become a vocal community member who would become one of the first mentors ofthe youth in transition program at Edmonton’s NorQuest community college. The program providesguidance for students with English as a second language.

Lakhani has also volunteered for several organizations, including the Lois

Her foot-on-the-ground approach to understanding her community and serving it better is something Lakhani said she will bring with her to her role as lieutenant-governor.

“One of the things I really want to do is highlight the people who do all this grassroots work. Those are the people who do a lot of the work and a lot of times they’re the unsung heroes. They’re not recognized. I would like to devote some of my time and energy to that.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 18, 2020

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
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Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation proudly announces the appointment of Hon. Patron to Lt. Governor Salma Lakhani and H

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MEDIA RELEASE: The Board of Directors of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation name Their Honours as Honourary Patrons in recognition of their transformational contributions, acts of service, and leadership in supporting the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

MEDIA RELEASE
Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation proudly announces the appointment of Hon. Patron to Lt. Governor Salma Lakhani and His Honour Dr. Zaheer Lakhani
CLICK HERE FOR THE OFFICIAL MEDIA RELEASE (PDF) https://www.royalalex.org/public/download/files/214084

June 27th, 2022
EDMONTON, AB—The Board of Directors of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation today announce that it has named as Honourary Patrons the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Her Honour the Honourable Salma Lakhani AOE, B.Sc., LLD (hon) and His Honour, Dr. Zaheer Lakhani CM MBChB FRCPC FACP FACC FRCP (London).

Their Honours were welcomed as the hospital’s newest Patrons in recognition of their transformational contributions, acts of service, and leadership in supporting the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

The naming and celebration of a Patron is a rare and special act. The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation had not named a Patron for almost 10 years.

In the history of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, only three individuals have been named Patron. Long-time donors William K. and Mary Jo Robbins, residents of Houston, Texas, were named Patrons in 2007 for their transformational philanthropy which led to the creation of new scholarships, endowed funds, and the Robbins Pavilion—home to the Lois Hole Hospital for Women and the CK Hui Heart Centre.

Philanthropist, former board member and former board chair, Dale Sheard was named Patron in 2014, for her leadership in bringing the province’s only dedicated women’s hospital—Lois Hole Hospital for Women—to life.

Through her philanthropy, Sheard also created the Cavarzan Chair in Mature Women’s Health Research, a long-term research endeavour that raises awareness of the health concerns of maturing women while also seeking to identify and close gaps in the care they experience.

Now, Her Honour Salma Lakhani and His Honour Dr. Zaheer Lakhani have joined this esteemed company of individuals as a result of the couple’s legacy and service to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, the hospital foundation, and the wider community the hospital serves.

The Lakhanis have supported the Royal Alexandra Hospital and its centres of medical excellence for decades. Through their charitable giving and volunteer leadership, the couple has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, while also serving as volunteers in other community areas.

Among a long list of accomplishments and accolades, Dr. Zaheer Lakhani holds the title of the longest-serving board member in the history of the Foundation. He will officially leave the board when he retires in 2022, having served as director, vice-chair, chair, and past chair. Dr. Lakhani is an acting physician and educator, serving as Clinical Professor with the Department of Medicine at the University of Alberta and practicing at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton and the Sturgeon Community Hospital in St. Albert.

Lieutenant Governor Lakhani has received a plethora of recognition for her services to the community and civil society, notably her commitment to the values of pluralism and inclusion and championing those who face barriers in life. Of many, she has led community campaigns supporting women’s health, including the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, and supported services that further the lives of immigrant women and their families. As Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Alberta, Salma Lakhani shares an important history with the namesake of the women’s hospital, the late Hon. Lois Hole, 15th Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Alberta. As Vice-Regal, she represents Canada’s head of state in Alberta, Queen Elizabeth II.

The Patrons were named upon recommendation by the serving CEO, senior leadership, and board members. Sharlene Rutherford, President and CEO of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, shared her perspective on their elevation.

“This is a proud moment for all of us because we have long considered Salma and Zaheer to be part of the Royal Alexandra family,” says Sharlene Rutherford, President and CEO of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation. “They represent the ideals that our hospital and its medical centres of excellence strive for each day: to deliver state-of-the-art, compassionate, equitable, healthcare to all patients from all walks of life and leaving no one behind.”

George Coon, Chair of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation Board of Directors, says the many achievements of Salma and Zaheer as individuals and as a couple are quite extraordinary.

“It is rare for a husband and wife to be bestowed with as many honours as they have—but then again, Salma and Zaheer are unique individuals with a compelling history and a remarkable life of service,” says Coon.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, its board of directors, alumni, staff, and supporters thank, congratulate, and celebrate Their Honours on their recent naming as Honourary Patrons of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.


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For media inquiries or more information, please contact:

Lindsay Robertson
Director of Communications, Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation
Email: LRobertson@royalalex.org | Phone: 780-217-2613


About the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation

Established in 1984, the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation is committed to supporting improved healthcare outcomes for the hundreds of thousands of people who seek treatment at the Royal Alexandra Hospital every year. The Foundation funds advanced education, cutting-edge research, next-generation technologies and facility improvements that advance care and enhance the patient experience. The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation also supports medical centres of excellence at the Royal Alexandra Hospital campus, including the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, the CK Hui Heart Centre, the Orthopedic Surgery Centre and the Eye Institute of Alberta.

Stay up to date with Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation news at royalalex.org. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram @RAHFoundation

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