York statue of Jinnah called a ‘world first’

Above: From left, graduate student sculptor David Mcdougall; Mike Colle, Ontario minister of citizenship & immigration; Ghalib Iqbal, consul general of Pakistan; Babar Qureshi, president of the Pakistan Student Association at York; and Lorna R. Marsden, York president & vice-chancellor, at the unveiling of the Jinnah statue

There’s a new face on campus, standing on the north side of the Curtis Lecture Hall on Campus Walk at York’s Keele campus – and he could be a world first for York. A sculpture of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan and the country’s first governor general, was unveiled Tuesday, Jan. 30, to commemorate the creation of a scholarship that bears his name.

After conducting a survey among other student associations around the globe, Babar Qureshi, president of the Pakistan Student Association at York, believes it is the first monument to a Pakistani leader at a university campus anywhere in the world.

Ghalib Iqbal and Babar Qureshi“This statue will do so much to promote York internationally,” said Qureshi. “My father called me from Pakistan to say the story was covered in the news there already.” (See today’s York in the Media section.)

Right: Ghalib Iqbal congratulates Babar Qureshi on the work of York’s Pakistan Student Association on the Jinnah project

York President & Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden and Ghalib Iqbal, Pakistan’s consul general in Toronto, presided at the unveiling of the bronze casting Tuesday, along with Mike Colle, Ontario’s minister for citizenship and immigration. “Jinnah was a great Muslim leader,” said Colle. “He played a dynamic role in the creation of the nation of Pakistan in 1947. And, to me, he is the George Washington of Pakistan.”

Qureshi said the event was a testament to the strength of the Pakistani community at York – the University’s third largest ethnic community with approximately 2,300 students, including 471 international students. “We feel so much at home here,” Qureshi said. “I have three cousins studying here and this [statue dedication] will help open channels internationally for York.”

The Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan Scholarship at York University was established in 2004 (see YFile  July 12, 2004) by the Consulate General and York’s Pakistan Student Association, with an initial gift of $25,000 that now stands at $50,000. The scholarship is awarded annually to one continuing undergraduate student at York who has demonstrated a commitment to academic excellence and leadership.

The scholarship’s unique name celebrates the contributions of Jinnah, a barrister and visionary who played a key role in the creation of the nation of Pakistan in 1947 and served as its first governor general. Jinnah is often credited by historians as one of the great nation builders of the mid 20th century.

Iqbal, whose wife and son are both York graduates, had initially considered approaching the Pakistani government with the idea for the scholarship. Then, during his conversations with members of the Pakistani community in Toronto, a huge level of interest in the scholarship developed and within a short time he amassed enough funds to establish it. Qureshi said many people learned about the scholarship during the PSA’s effort to raise money for a relief fund after the Oct. 1, 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, and contributed to both funds.

The 1.5-metre-high bronze casting on stone plinth was created by David Mcdougall, a graduate student in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, who was selected by the PSA on the recommendation of his supervisor, Brandon Vickerd, professor in York’s Department of Visual Arts. Mcdougall, who specializes in figurative sculpture, said he enjoyed the unveiling of his first public commission. “It was a great feeling,” he said. “I was very excited to see my work on campus. It was a great day.”

Mcdougall said he chose an iconic image of Jinnah – the one that appears on Pakistan’s 10-rupee coin – as the design for his bust. The only stipulation from the student association, Macdougall said, was that the bust show Jinnah in a suit, to denote his background as a British-trained lawyer.

Visit the official Government of Pakistan Web site for more information on Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah,