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Stephen Lewis

Human Rights, Social Justice and Cultures of Peace

Date Recorded: Sep 21st, 2007
Recorded At: Mir Centre for Peace, Selkirk College, Castlegar, BC
Recorded By: Zoe Creighton
Duration: 59:30  

Topic Background

This edition of Canadian Voices features Stephen Lewis, human rights activist, author, and former diplomat and politician speaking on Human Rights, Social Justice, and Cultures of Peace, in celebration of the grand opening of the Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College in Castelgar, BC, in September, 2007.

The Mir Centre for Peace was established in 1999 with the mandate of understanding and building cultures of peace through education. Mir is an ancient Russian word with a complex meaning of peace, community and world. The centre’s goal is to provide a physical space for activities and assemblies that encourage education and artistic expression relating to peace.The centre is located at the Castlegar campus of Selkirk College, in the Kootenay Region of BC, and has become a magnet for diverse peoples seeking new paths to social justice and peace. Housed in an early 20th century Doukhobor communal dwelling, the Mir Centre sits on what once were traditional aboriginal lands inhabited by the Sinixt.

Speaker Biography

Formerly the Special Envoy to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Stephen Lewis is co-Director of AIDS-Free World, a new international AIDS advocacy organization, based in the United States ( Mr. Lewis is also a Professor in Global Health, Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He is a Senior Advisor to the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York.

Stephen Lewis’ work with the United Nations spanned more than two decades. He was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from June 2001 until the end of 2006. From 1995 to 1999, Mr. Lewis was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF at the organization’s global headquarters in New York. From 1984 through 1988, Stephen Lewis was Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations.

Mr. Lewis was an elected member of the Ontario Legislative Assembly from 1963 to1978.

In 1970, he became leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, during which time he became leader of the Official Opposition.

Mr. Lewis is co-chair of the Leadership Programme Committee for the XVII International AIDS Conference, which will be held in Mexico City in August 2008. He also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative and is the chair of the board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation in Canada.

In 2006, Stephen Lewis’ best-selling book, Race Against Time won the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Libris Award for non-fiction book of the year and Mr. Lewis was named the CBA’s Author of the Year for 2005.

Mr. Lewis holds 26 honorary degrees from Canadian universities and is a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest honour for lifetime achievement. In 2007, the Kingdom of Lesotho (a small mountainous country in Southern Africa) invested Mr. Lewis as Knight Commander of the Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe. The order is named for the founder of Lesotho; the knighthood is the country’s highest honour.

For more information about Stephen Lewis visit

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