US & Canada

Malala is 'humbled' by honorary Canadian citizenship

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (R) gestures towards Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai after presenting her with honorary Canadian citizenship during a ceremony in the Library of Parliament on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, April 12, 2017. Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person to receive an honorary Canadian citizenship

Nobel Peace prize laureate Malala Yousafzai says she is "humbled" to become the sixth person to receive an honorary Canadian citizenship.

At 19, she is also the youngest ever person to receive the honour.

During the official ceremonies in Ottawa, she called on Canadian politicians to use their influence to help fund education for girls worldwide, including refugees.

Ms Yousafzai is a global advocate for women's rights and education.

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

The Pakistani schoolgirl activist was originally meant to receive her citizenship in October 2014, an honour bestowed on her under former Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper's government.

That event was cancelled when it coincided with the shooting death of a ceremonial guard Nathan Cirillo and an attack on Parliament by gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

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Malala spoke of the attack in her address said in an address to legislators in the Canadian Parliament on Wednesday. Many in the audience were in Ottawa that day.

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

She said he instead shared the same hatred as the man who allegedly shot six people at a Quebec City mosque in January, the attacker who killed six people in London in March, and the Taliban gunmen who in 2012 shot her for defying their ban on girls attending school in her native Pakistan.

"These men have tried to divide us and destroy our democracies, our freedom of religion, our right to go to school. But we - and you - refuse to be divided," she said.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Malala Yousafzai leaves Parliament hill after receiving an honorary Canadian citizenship

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

Only five other people have received honorary Canadian citizenship: Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama, religious leader Aga Khan, Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, and Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Malala was accompanied on Wednesday by her parents Ziauddin and Toor Pekai Yousafzai.

Earlier in the day, Malala surprised Ottawa high school students by arriving unannounced to take their questions during an event with by Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, Mr Trudeau's wife.

Ms Yousafzai will also meet Conservative interim opposition leader Rona Ambrose, who called her a "symbol of determination and hope for young girls around the world".

In 2009, when she was just 11 years-old, Malala began writing a blog for the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym, describing her life under the Taliban.

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