TORONTO, ON (April 12, 2017) --- Today, Pakistani girls’ rights activist Malala Yousafzai becomes an honourary citizen of Canada during a ceremony on Parliament Hill. Ms. Yousafzai began her crusade for education rights for Pakistani girls at the age of 12 when the Taliban were preventing girls from going to school. Two years later, she survived being shot in the head by a Taliban fighter.
“Malala is a courageous fighter and survivor who is an inspiration to girls and young women around the world,” said Six Nations Chief Ava Hill, acting Ontario Regional Chief. “She is an activist and warrior in the same category as Shannen Koostachin, of Attawapiskat, who began her campaign for a new school at the age of 13. Shannen died in a car accident when she was just 15, but her legacy lives on in the Shannen’s Dream Campaign for equal education funding for First Nations. She was also honoured as being one of the 150th greatest Canadians earlier this year.”
“We congratulate Malala Yousafzai for championing the education of women around the world, and we welcome her appointment as an honorary citizen of Canada,” said Nishnawbe Aski Nation Deputy Grand Chief Anna Betty Achneepineskum. “Her courage and determination reflects the spirit of the late Shannen Koostachin who, like Malala, became a national symbol of perseverance as she fought for a proper school in Attawapiskat First Nation. We pray that Shannen’s endearing spirit lives on through Malala, other youth leaders, and all who strive to improve education opportunities and outcomes for all young people.”
Malala Yousafzai’s inspirational quotes include:
“I don't want to be remembered as the girl who was shot. I want to be remembered as the girl who stood up”.
“There should be no discrimination against languages people speak, skin color, or religion.”
“Let us remember: One book, one pen, one child, and one teacher can change the world.”
Shannen Koostachin said: “All students in Canada deserve a learning environment that they are proud to attend and that gives them hope. We want the same hope as every other Canadian student."
“Today, we salute the work begin done by Malala, and we honour the memory of Shannen,” concluded Anishinaabeg of Naongashiing Chief Patricia Big George. “Both girls have the same dream. Every child deserves the right to an education. The struggle for that right continues here in Canada, in Pakistan, and around the world.”