‘Until my last day I will talk about it’
Canada Hiroshima survivor urges Canada to sign UN agreement
Setsuko Thurlow fights back tears as she recounts the events she witnessed more than 70 years ago.
She was just a 13-year-old schoolgirl in Hiroshima when the United States dropped the atomic bomb in 1945, killing thousands of people and casting the city into darkness.
“The morning became night because of all the smoke and particles in the air,” she said Friday in Toronto.
By the time she was able to miraculously crawl out of the rubble, her entire school was on fire and about 30 other girls with her had all burned.
“I saw people who were carrying their own eyeballs as they collapsed, their stomachs burst off them with their intestines creeping out,” she said. “I had to learn to step over the dead and dying people.”
This December, Thurlow will travel to Oslo to join other members of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.
It’s a cause she’s championed through many years of activism, both in Canada and globally. Her efforts and those of others were instrumental in seeing 122 countries adopt a United Nations treaty banning nuclear weapons in July.
Justin Trudeau joined other NATO countries in boycotting the negotiations, with Global Affairs Canada maintaining the ban would “not address concrete measures to eliminate nuclear weapons.”
The position, long held by Canada, leaves Thurlow “disappointed.”
“(Trudeau) has to consider this issue as a very personal human experience,” she said, urging the prime minister to change course and sign the agreement.
Thurlow, who has lived in Toronto since 1955 and is a member of the Order of Canada, said modern-day atomic bombs can do even more harm than those of 1945, considering advances in technology.
While she plans to continue her work, Thurlow, now 85, said passing the torch to a younger generation is one of her main goals.
“People around the world must know what nuclear weapons do and did to us. Don’t let the politicians make all the decisions on their behalf,” she said. “Until my last day I will talk about it.” setsuko Thurlow survived the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.