Malala Yousafzai Becomes Honorary Canadian Citizen

22 Mar 2023

Justin Trudeau presented her with a certificate documenting her as an honorary Canadian

Malala Yousafzai — Nobel Peace Prize winner, a United Nations messenger of peace, and global advocate for education became the sixth person to be bestowed with honorary Canadian citizenship and the youngest recipient of the honour, ever.

In October, 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head by terrorist gunmen as she was riding the bus home from school. As a young student in Pakistan, she had advocated for education, which put her in the crosshairs of the Taliban.

“I felt fear when I went to school thinking that someone would stop me and harm me. I would hide my books under my scarf.”

Ironically, she was originally scheduled to receive her citizenship by the previous Harper government back in 2014. She had gotten as far as the Toronto airport when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau killed Nathan Cirillo, who was guarding the National War Memorial, forcing the ceremony to be postponed. She highlighted the incident and said the Ottawa assailant shared the hatred of all those who have perpetrated other attacks, including those who made the attempt on her own life.

She joins a very prestigious group of global figures who have also received honorary citizenship. The other five are the Dalai Lama, the Aga Khan, Nelson Mandela, Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi and Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.

She asked Canada to make girls’ education a central theme of its G7 presidency in 2018, to use its influence to help fill the global education funding gap and to prioritize 12 years of schooling for refugees. During her parliamentary address, she specifically asked Canada to host the upcoming meeting of the Global Partnership for Education to bring world leaders together and raise new funding for girls to go to school.