Malala Yousafzai becomes youngest ever to get honorary Canadian citizenship
Nobel Peace laureate Malala Yousafzai returned to Canada on Wednesday to receive her honorary citizenship and address the country’s lawmakers after her first visit to Parliament in 2014 was put off because of a terror attack.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presented her with a framed certificate of citizenship. She’s only the sixth person to receive the honor and the youngest ever. The 19-year-old Pakistani activist was 15 when she shot in the head by Taliban militants while returning from school. She was targeted for advocating women’s education.
She won world acclaim for her campaign and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014. Malala originally was scheduled to receive honorary citizenship in October 2014, but the Canadian Parliament was stormed by an armed terrorist that day. The gunman killed a soldier standing guard at Ottawa’s war memorial shortly before storming Parliament in an attack that was stopped cold when he was shot to death.
“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,” she said to applause. Malala also praised Canada for welcoming more than 40,000 Syrian refugees, and appeared to add an appeal to the US as well.
“I pray that you continue to open your homes and your hearts to the world’s most defenseless children and families,” she said, “and I hope your neighbors will follow your example.” And she joked about Trudeau, Canada’s 45-year-old prime minister.
“People are always talking about how young he is. They say he is the second youngest prime minister in Canada's history. He does yoga, he has tattoos,” she said. “When I was coming here everyone was telling me to shake his hand and let us know how he looks in reality. People were just so excited for me to meet Trudeau. I don't think anyone cared about the Canadian honorary citizenship.”
The other five honorary citizens are the Dalai Lama, the Aga Khan, Nelson Mandela, Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.