Malala’s nudge to Par­lia­ment Teen ac­tivist an hon­orary Cana­dian, asks coun­try to lead

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

The ir­re­press­ible Malala Yousafzai, the teenage No­bel Peace Prize win­ner who sur­vived a Tal­iban bul­let in 2012, de­liv­ered an en­dur­ing mes­sage of hope, per­se­ver­ance and in­spi­ra­tion Wed­nes­day — and did it as an hon­orary Cana­dian ci­ti­zen.

Yousafzai used her new­found mem­ber­ship in the Cana­dian fam­ily and tow­er­ing pres­ence on Par­lia­ment Hill to ap­ply a lit­tle friendly pres­sure, call­ing on the coun­try to go be­yond hon­orifics and take a global lead in en­sur­ing more girls can go to school.

“I know where I stand,” Yousafzai said dur­ing a mov­ing speech to a joint ses­sion of Par­lia­ment that was punc­tu­ated fre­quently by thun­der­ous stand­ing ova­tions. “If you stand with me, I ask you to seize ev­ery op­por­tu­nity for girls’ ed­u­ca­tion over the next year.”

The 19-year-old called on Canada to make girls’ ed­u­ca­tion the cen­tre­piece of its work as host of the G7 next year some­thing that would bring full cir­cle the process of how the Pak­istani ac­tivist be­came Canada’s sixth hon­orary ci­ti­zen.

The ac­co­lade was orig­i­nally to be con­ferred by for­mer Con­ser­va­tive prime min­is­ter Stephen Harper, whose in­ner cir­cle thought hon­our­ing Yousafzai would be a log­i­cal off­shoot of their gov­ern­ment’s fo­cus on women and girls’ health when Canada last led the G7.

She was to have re­ceived the hon­our on Oct. 22, 2014, but on that day a gun­man ram­paged through the very build­ing where Yousafzai stood Wed­nes­day.

“The man who at­tacked Par­lia­ment Hill called him­self a Mus­lim, but he did not share my faith,” she said.

“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.”

The gun­man “shared the ha­tred” of the man who at­tacked the Que­bec City mosque in Jan­uary, who killed civil­ians and a po­lice of­fi­cer in Lon­don three weeks ago, who killed 132 school chil­dren at Pak­istan’s Army Public School in Pe­shawar, she said.

“The same ha­tred as the man who shot me.”

Malala sang Canada’s praises through­out her speech.

“‘Wel­come to Canada’ is more than a head­line or a hash­tag,” she said. “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 and your hearts to the world’s most de­fence­less chil­dren and fam­i­lies — and I hope your neigh­bours will fol­low your ex­am­ple.”

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