[Virtual] Book Launch — The Roots and the Trees by Nizar Sultan

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[Virtual] Book Launch — The Roots and the Trees by Nizar Sultan

Monday, October 26 at 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT

This free event will be broadcast online and is welcome to all – there is no login or registration required to tune in from the comfort of home. Please click here to attend the livestream.

Note that this conversation will continue to live on the Massey College YouTube channel following the live broadcast.


Massey College is delighted to be hosting the Virtual Launch of The Roots and the Trees. Principal Nathalie Des Rosiers welcomes author Nizar Sultan, who has been involved with His Highness the Aga Khan’s institutions for the socio-economic development of the Ismaili Muslim community in Canada for over 40 years, to present his debut novel, The Roots and the Trees, which chronicles the migration of the Ismaili community from East Africa to Canada. The book is a work of fiction that draws upon the true stories and lived experiences of Canadian Ismailis, and seeks to provide a complex and nuanced portrait of the diversity of immigrant and refugee experiences. They will be joined in conversation by Dr. Azim Nanji, Senior Associate Director of the Islamic Studies program at Stanford University, and Massey College Alumna Niyosha Keyzad, a PhD Candidate in the Department of English at U of T.


The Roots and the Trees by Nizar Sultan


About the book

The Roots and the Trees is a work of fiction built around landmark events that shaped the life of South Asian communities in East Africa, with a focus on the Ismaili Muslim community. It tells the story of two Ismaili boys, Rafiq Abdulla and Anil Damji, starting with their high school years in Dodoma (then a small town in Tanzania) in 1957, and follows them and their families ultimately to Canada as they navigate the political turmoil in East Africa in the 1960s and 1970s.The book chronicles the Ismaili exodus from Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda in the 1970s and the community’s early settlement challenges in Canada. It describes the social governance institutions and economic support programs His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan – the community’s spiritual leader (Imam) – established, and which Rafiq and Anil got appointed to serve on, to facilitate the community’s settlement in Canada. It then goes on to relate how, guided and supported by their Imam, within five years of its arrival in Canada, the Canadian Ismaili community came to be well settled and respected, from coast to coast, for its organization, self-reliance, voluntarism, professionalism, business enterprise and philanthropy.






Click here to buy your copy of The Roots and the Trees: https://www.amazon.ca/Roots-Trees-Nizar-Sultan-Gulamhusein/dp/1777144388



Nizar Sultan was born and raised in British-ruled Tanganyika (now the Republic of Tanzania). After completing high school and a two-year teaching program, Nizar studied in England for five years and graduated with a degree in Economics. He returned to Tanzania in 1967, where he worked for five years in tourism infrastructure and project development. He and his wife migrated to Canada in 1972.

In Canada, Nizar has worked for 45 years in paid and voluntary capacities for the institutions of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan for the socio-economic development of the Shia Ismaili Muslim community in Canada, of which His Highness is the spiritual leader. This included 15 years as manager of a business consulting and financing program for Ismailis in Eastern Canada, and 20 years as CEO of the Aga Khan Council for Canada.

Nizar’s early life and work experience in Tanzania, followed by his work for the Ismaili institutions in Canada and beyond, have provided him with a deep and unique insight into the Ismaili community’s historical background in East Africa, the events leading up to the community’s departure from Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, and its settlement in a new land.

The Roots and the Trees is Nizar’s first novel. It is a real-life study of an uprooted community’s migration and early establishment in Canada, set in a fictional narrative.


Niyosha Keyzad completed an Honours BSc (with Distinction) from UofT in 2010, with a double major in Evolutionary Anthropology and English. She received a Masters of Arts in American and Postcolonial Literatures from McGill University, where she also taught creative writing, and worked as the Editorial Assistant for the McGill News Alumni Magazine. She spent a year teaching English in France at Lycée du Golfe de Saint Tropez and Collège Victor Hugo, before  returning to the University of Toronto to pursue a PhD at the Department of English and the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies. Her doctoral research focuses on memoirs of the Iranian diaspora, literatures of exile and displacement, and theories of space and identity.

Niyosha has previously served as the Course Coordinator of ‘Critical Writing About Literature’ (ENGA02) at UTSC’s Department of English, Editorial Assistant of the Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry, founding  Chair of the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union Race and Ethnicity Caucus, and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee at Massey College. She is a co-founder of the Scarborough Studies Collective (SSC) – an initiative dedicated to the critical study of Scarborough across disciplines and the community. More recently, her work on SSC was recognized with a Fellowship at the newly established UofT School of Cities. Niyosha is a current Course Instructor at UTSC’s Department of English.



This event will be broadcast online and is welcome to all – there is no login or registration required to tune in from the comfort of home. Please click here to attend the livestream.



Monday, October 26
5:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
Event Category:


Massey College