Malala ‘humbled’ by honorary Canadian citizenship, praises refugee welcome
Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, left, is presented with an honorary Canadian citizenship by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on April 12, 2017. Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Malala ‘humbled’ by honorary Canadian citizenship, praises refugee welcome

Malala Yousafzai urges Canada to play leading role in girls’ education fight

Pakistani education activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has become only the sixth person, and the youngest, to ever receive honorary Canadian citizenship.

Canada bestowed the title on Yousafzai, 19, during an honorary citizenship ceremony in Ottawa on Wednesday.

“I’m humbled to accept honorary citizenship of your country,” she said in the House of Commons.

“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,” Yousafzai said.

She is also the youngest to receive honorary Canadian citizenship — a privilege previously granted to five others including Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Myanmar s Aung San Suu Kyi.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Ms Yousafzai for her advocacy, calling her “the newest and possibly bravest citizen of Canada”.

Malala, who survived a Taliban attack five years ago, dazzled MPs and dignitaries with a Parliament Hill speech sprinkled with inspiration, humour and a call for Canada to do more for global development.

Yousafzai, who was born in Pakistan, told the House she was grateful to be an honorary citizen of this “nation of heroes” — though she would still “require a visa.” (Anyone travelling with a Pakistani passport needs a visa to enter Canada.)

“That’s another discussion,” she added, before the House erupted in laughter and applause.

A little later, she talked about how her friends were so excited for her to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — someone who “does yoga” and has tattoos — that “I don’t think anyone cared about the honorary citizenship.”

Malala urges Canada to act on the rights of refugees and girls

Malala Yousafzai called on Canada to play a leadership role in promoting education for girls and refugees around the world Wednesday after becoming an honorary Canadian citizen.

In an address to Parliament Wednesday, Ms. Yousafzai 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:

I stand with girls, as someone who knows how it feels to have your right of education taken away and your dreams threatened. I know where I stand. If you stand with me, I ask you to seize every opportunity for girls’ education over the next year.

She also praised Canada’s embrace of refugees and its ongoing international development work for women and girls.

She urged Canada to use its influence on the world stage and its G7 presidency to push for more education funding for girls and child refugees internationally.

“If Canada leads, the world will follow,” she said to repeated roaring applause and standing ovations in a packed House of Commons.

Strong women, not terrorists, true representatives of Pakistan: Malala

Malala stressed that terrorists do not represent Pakistan, it is in fact country’s strong women who truly portray Pakisan.

“Women who stand up for their rights, including myself, represent Pakistan. Terrorists do not represent my country,” she told Pakistan’s Geo News.

Malala said she is proud of Pakistan and vowed to take it to newer heights. “I am proud of Pakistan and I miss Pakistan. We are Pakistanis and we will take our country forward,” she pledged, adding that she will come to Pakistan soon.

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