Thursday, 2 December 2021

Malala becomes sixth person to receive Canadian honorary citizenship

malala canada 1

OTTAWA: Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai became only the sixth person to receive honorary Canadian citizenship Wednesday, as she called on the country to be bold in advocating for girls  education. Wearing a bright orange scarf to cover her head in accordance with Muslim tradition, the malala canada 2Pakistani activist was welcomed to the seat of Canada’s democracy by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. At age 19, Yousafzai is the youngest person to speak to Canadian members of parliament and senators in a joint session. She is also the youngest to receive honorary Canadian citizenship – a privilege previously granted to five others including Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Myanmar s Aung San Suu Kyi. She urged Canada to use its turn as president of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations in 2018 to press for the education of girls and refugees. She leapt to global fame after a Taliban gunman shot her in the head on a school bus in October 2012 for defending her right to attend school. Since a successful operation following the attack, she has lived in the British city of Birmingham, where she continues to advocate for women s rights. During a brief ceremony, Yousafzai was given the Canadian flag from atop the Peace Tower at the entrance of parliament, and a copy of her 2013 book “I Am Malala” was added to the parliamentary library.

Yousafzai had been invited to Canada by the previous Conservative government in 2014 – when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – to receive Canadian citizenship in Toronto. But the ceremony was postponed due to the shooting of a ceremonial guard and an attack on parliament the same day. The honour is mostly symbolic, coming with no obligations or benefits. Earlier Wednesday, Yousafzai joined the prime minister’s wife Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau for a talk with students at a local high school. “The message I am spreading around the world to our leaders, to our politicians, (is) that they must prioritise education for each and every child around the world,” she said.

Other honorary citizens of Canada

The 14th and current Dalai Lama is Tenzin Gyatso. After Tibet was invaded by the People’s Republic of China in 1950, the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans went into exile following a 1959 uprising that was brutally quashed.

Prince Shah Karim Al Hussaini, Aga Khan IV, is the spiritual leader of the world’s 15 million Ismailis, who follow a branch of Shia Islam. He is also a philanthropist who runs one of the world largest private charities – the Aga Khan Development Network.

Freedom fighter. Democrat. Healer. Nobel Peace laureate. Father of a nation. Nelson Mandela towered above the evil of apartheid with a gritty nobility of spirit that became a beacon of hope for his struggling South African people and an inspiration to all.

Aung San Suu Kyi is the fourth person to be granted honorary Canadian citizenship. Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, won the last democratic elections in 1990 but were never allowed to take power. Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, spent many years in detention in Burma.

The first person to ever receive the honour was Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who rescued thousands of Jews during the Second World War. Wallenberg is believed to have died in a Soviet prison in 1947.

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