Travelling exhibit Together finds the citizen in you


A travelling exhibition opened in Victoria Saturday, an effort by the Aga Khan Foundation to inspire visitors to be active citizens, at home and abroad.

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Called Together, the exhibit folds out of a tractor-trailer unit to showcase the many ways Canadians are assisting development projects around the world. It was funded by the Aga Khan Foundation, with help from the Canadian government, and is free to visitors.

The development efforts include ways to boost food production, improve health care and improve the lives of women perhaps held back by discriminatory customs or traditions.

Francois Grenier, tour manager of Together, said the small museum — which made an appearance at Quadra Village Day on Kings Road — is a way to illustrate how development efforts can make positive changes in people’s lives without making them dependent.

“The message for us is that financial aid is always very nice, but it’s always better to help people become self reliant,” Grenier said.

For example, an exhibit on food security includes some of the ways Canadians have helped secure access to water for irrigation and a radio broadcast service to help farmers figure out the best times to plant and harvest.

Together also features a small quiz and assessment feature to help people figure how their best skills as a citizen can be used, whether overseas or at home.

By answering a few questions, visitors think of themselves as a “dream big” citizen, a start-up citizen, a thoughtful citizen, a hands-on citizen or a combination of all four. The overarching message for all is to get involved.

“Global development always starts with local attention,” Grenier said. “So help your neighbour across the street with the groceries, shovel some snow for some seniors, see what can happen. There are really no bad ideas. All you’ve got to do is give it a shot.”

The Aga Khan Foundation was founded by the Aga Khan, the hereditary imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims, Karim al-Husayni, now 80.

A graduate of Harvard University, the Aga Khan conceived of a foundation committed to improving human dignity by assisting in developments that allow people to become self-sufficient. It assists with projects in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

After touring Together, Lisa Corkery, a student of social work at the University of Victoria, said she was impressed with the views offered of forward-thinking development initiatives.

Corkery was also thrilled to see the depiction of the people involved and benefiting.

“It really humanized all these things being done around the world,” she said.

Friends Sasha Pearce, 17, Honesty Ross, 17, and Mayana Parks, 12, were also impressed by what they saw.

“There is a lot of knowledge here that people can use,” Ross said.

Parks described the exhibit as “pretty cool.”

Together: An exhibition on global development moves on next week to:

• Spectrum Community School, Monday and Tuesday, 3 p.m.-5 p.m.

• École Victor-Brodeur, Thursday, 3 p.m.- 5 p.m.

• Victoria Community Barbecue, Saturday, 5166 Cordova Bay Rd., 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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