Canada Recognizes Importance Of Immigrants, GrantS Malala YOUSAFZAI Special Honor

While U.S. President Donald Trump continues to demonize immigrants and seemingly does everything possible to keep them away from the country, Canada just granted Malala Yousafzai a very special honor. Just one day after being named the youngest UN Messenger of Peace, Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who survived a personal attack from the Taliban due to her support for girls’ education, is now an honorary Canadian citizen. During an honorary citizenship ceremony celebrated in Ottawa on Wednesday, the teenage human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner became the sixth person to ever receive the honor (and of course, the youngest). Addressing a standing ovation in the House of Commons, Malala said,

“I’m humbled to accept honorary citizenship of your country. While I will always be a proud Pashtun and a proud citizen of Pakistan, I’m grateful to be an honorary member of your nation of heroes.”

Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, welcomed Yousafzai as a “trailblazer”, a “model of kindness”, and an “impossibly humble” person. He later presented her with a Canadian flag and a certificate of honorary citizenship after telling her,

“Malala, your story is an inspiration to us all. For bravely lending your voice to so many, we thank you. From this day forward, we are all proud to call you Canadian.”

Malala used the opportunity to address the Parliament to call on Canada to take a leading role in the promotion of education for girls around the world, as well as for refugees; these last, for which she also praised on Canada for opening their borders to them (contrary to the US).  As quoted by CBC, the young activist diplomatically said,

“Your motto and your stand, welcome to Canada, is more than a headline or a hashtag. It is the spirit of humanity that every single one of us would yearn for if our family was in crisis. I pray that you continue to open your homes, your hearts, to the world’s most defenceless children and families and I hope your neighbors will follow your example.” 

As Yousafzai understands, Islamic terrorism is a growing fear in different countries, one certain governments use to marginalize religious and cultural diversity. Yet, she said of this,

“The man who attacked Parliament Hill called himself a Muslim — but he did not share my faith. He did not share the faith of one and a half billion Muslims, living in peace around the world. He did not share our Islam — a religion of learning, compassion and mercy. I am a Muslim and I believe that when you pick up a gun in the name of Islam and kill innocent people, you are not a Muslim anymore.”

Lastly, Malala also asked leaders not to ignore other world problems like the refugee crisis which has been largely ignored by the Trump administration,

“And to the leaders of Canada in this room today: though you may have different politics and priorities, I know each of you is trying to respond to some of our world’s most pressing problems. I have travelled the world and met people in many countries. I’ve seen firsthand many of the problems we are facing today – war, economic instability, climate change and health crises. And I can tell you that the answer is girls.”

In the midst of a growing environment of xenophobia, hatred and discrimination, it is a refreshing celebrate this symbolic and historical event.

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