“Members of Team Canada and I learnt much from the 1972 Summit Series, which had a positive impact on the way professional hockey is played in North America,” the Honorable Ken Dryden, a former Canadian Minister and renowned member of the NHL Hall of Fame, noted at his public lecture delivered at the University of Central Asia (UCA) Main Campus in Naryn on May 30, according to press release issued by UCA.

The lecture, organized by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and Global Affairs Canada, was attended by over 100 invitees, including the Naryn leadership, students and faculty from UCA and Naryn State University and general public.  A Canadian delegation led by Shawn Steil, Ambassador of Canada to Kyrgyzstan was also present.

In his lecture, Mr Dryden reportedly underlined the similarities between Canada and Kyrgyzstan, which “ran beyond a similar topography, climate and population density.”  The thread linking the two countries, he noted, was epitomized by the movement of goods and peoples on the Silk Road.

Alongside trade, these interactions fomented knowledge and innovation and fostered significant advancement across a large expanse. This historic transformation was akin to the one that contemporary university students were experiencing, a result of their own interaction with other individuals from different backgrounds.  This, Mr Dryden remarked, seemed especially true of UCA given its diverse student body residing in its new purpose-built facility.

This public lecture is part of the broader collective efforts, led by the Government of Kyrgyzstan and supported by the AKDN, to foster the transformation of Naryn into a knowledge and creativity hub.

“AKDN highly appreciates the support from Kyrgyzstan in our collective efforts to improve the quality of life in the country. We are delighted to partner with Canada to promote broadbased, inclusive growth in many parts of the world, in particular here in Central Asia.  This event reflects our shared commitment to human development in the region, in particular enhancing the prospects for social and economic prosperity amongst the youth”, noted Mr Shamsh Kassim-Lakha, AKDN Diplomatic Representative in Kyrgyzstan and Chairman of UCA Board of Trustees.

Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which was founded by His Highness the Aga Khan, is a private, international, non-denominational development organization.  It employs over 80,000 people in over 30 countries. Its agencies address complex development issues, including the provision of quality healthcare and education services, cultural and economic revitalization, micro-enterprise, entrepreneurship and economic development, the advancement of civil society and the protection of the environment. The AKDN aims to improve living conditions and opportunities for people without regard to their particular religion, race, ethnicity, or gender.

University of Central Asia (UCA) was founded in 2000.  The Presidents of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and His Highness the Aga Khan signed an International Treaty and Charter to establish this secular, private, not-for-profit University. The treaty was ratified by the respective parliaments and registered with the United Nations.  UCA’s School of Arts and Sciences began classes in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, in September 2016, and the campus in Khorog, Tajikistan, is expected to open in September 2017.  UCA was established to offer an internationally recognized standard of higher education in Central Asia and prepare graduates to contribute leadership, ideas, and innovation to the economies and communities of the region.

UCA’s mission is to foster the socio-economic development of Central Asia, particularly its mountain societies, while helping the peoples of the region preserve and draw upon their rich cultural heritages as assets for the future.  UCA brings with it the commitment and partnership of AKDN.