Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani education activist who shared this year's Nobel Peace Prize, will come to Canada Oct. 22 to receive an honorary citizenship.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who pledged to make Yousafzai an honorary citizen during last year's speech from the throne, confirmed the news during an event in Manitoba Friday and offered his congratulations.
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"[Yousafzai is] a really heroic young woman who has stood up to violence in favour of girls' rights in Pakistan and all around the world," Harper said.
"So we congratulate her but we also want to announce she'll be coming to Canada later this month to receive honorary Canadian citizenship."
Yousafzai will become just the sixth person to be given honorary Canadian citizenship. The others are:
- World World II-era Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg.
- Nelson Mandela.
- The Dalai Lama.
- Aung San Suu Kyi.
- The Aga Khan.
The honour is symbolic and means Yousafzai will not take a citizenship oath or receive the same privileges held by other Canadian citizens.
Yousafzai, an outspoken advocate for girls education, was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman two years ago as she was on her way home from school.
Girls' right to education
She survived to become an international spokesperson for the right of girls to go to school.
Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in the House of Commons Friday Canada was proud to see the Nobel honour bestowed on a young woman who literally faced up to terrorism.
NDP MP Paul Dewar, who had raised the question of Yousafzai's honorary citizenship in the House, said after question period the Nobel jury made the right decision in honouring her for what she represents, namely "young girls and young women really taking a stand and being heard."
"And that’s why we were in the House today saying if Canada honestly supports the Nobel Peace Prize, the great thing to do would be to actually up our ante and actually put more money into the Global Education Fund," Dewar said. "That would be a great way to honour her."
In 2011, Canada contributed $45 million to the Global Partnership for Education program over three years, according to the website of the Foreign Affairs Department. The NDP noted Friday the government has not said whether it would renew the funding.
But in a statement from his office Friday announcing Yousafzai's visit to Canada, Harper said "We look forward to pursuing our collaborative efforts on children's education."