Stephen H. Lewis, LL.D., June 4, 2007

Stephen H. Lewis
CC.; D.Tech.(B.C.I.T.); LL.D.(Laur., Dal., Cape Breton, Vic.(BC), S.Fraser, W.Ont., St. FX, CaIg., PEI, Tor., Br.Col, Windsor, Qu., Brock, W.Laur., Lakehead, Mt. All., McG., Sask., New Br., Concordia, York, McM.)

What is wrong with the world? People are dying in numbers that are the stuff of science fiction. Millions of human beings are at risk. Communities, families, mothers, fathers, children are like shards of humanity caught in a maelstrom of destruction. They'
re flesh and blood human beings, for God's sake; is that not enough to ignite the conscience of the world?

What is wrong with the world, indeed. Igniting the world to be different and to do better has been the quest of Stephen Lewis throughout his time in public life. In recognition of his exemplary and passionate advocacy on behalf of the world's children, the poor, and those stricken by HIV/AIDS, Stephen Lewis is being honoured by the University of Manitoba today.

Stephen Lewis has a long history of civic engagement, first in the political sphere in Canada, and later on the world stage as the UN Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for HIV/AIDS in Africa from 2001 to 2006. He is now the Scholar-in-Residence at the Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition at McMaster University and Board Chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.

Stephen Lewis was elected and served four consecutive terms in the Ontario legislature beginning in 1963. While in office, he led the provincial New Democratic Party and served as the leader of the Official Opposition. He left electoral politics in 1978 and worked in media and in labour relations.  In 1984, Stephen Lewis was appointed by former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney to the post of Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations. While serving at the UN, Stephen Lewis chaired the Committee that drafted the Five-Year UN Programme on African Economic Recovery. Subsequently, he was appointed as the Secretary-General's Special Advisor on Africa. In 1990, Stephen Lewis was appointed as Special Representative for UNICEF. In 1993, he coordinated an international study on the Consequences of Armed Conflict on Children. From 1995 to 1999, Stephen Lewis was the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF. In 1997, in addition to his work at UNICEF, he was appointed by the Organization of African Unity to a Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the Genocide in Rwanda. He has been a consultant to numerous UN agencies including UNAIDS, UNIFEM (the UN Development Fund for Women) and the ECA (the Economic Commission for Africa). In 2001, Kofi Annan, SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations, named him as Special Envoy for HIV/ AIDS in Africa.

It is clear that many parts of Africa face a pandemic of HIV/AIDS. Tragedy is heaped on tragedy as lives are lost by the millions, and an entire generation or children are orphaned. Stephen Lewis is working to encourage everyone who can make a difference with respect to the spread of HIV/AIDS to do so, and on an urgent basis. In those countries where social division along class, race and gender lines determine who will have access to the necessities of life, Stephen Lewis is working for change, and is trying to create a more just society. As well, he is encouraging public health workers to educate people about the prevention of HIV/ AIDS. He has been a passionate advocate of female microbicides that will allow women who already face discrimination and violence to better protect themselves against HIV/AIDS. He is encouraging scientists to find effective treatments and eventually a cure for this terrible disease.

He is pushing leaders around the world — here in Canada, in the G8 countries, and in Africa — to make history by alleviating the conditions that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. Above all else, Stephen Lewis has advanced the view that the pandemic of HIV/AIDS in Africa is not just a health issue, it is a matter of social injustice. And we all have a stake in the eradication of social injustice.

For his significant contributions to public service, in 2003, Stephen Lewis was named a Companion of the Order of Canada, our country’s highest honour for lifetime achievement. In the same year, he was chosen by Maclean's magazine as their inaugural "Canadian of the Year." Time magazine named Stephen Lewis as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He has received the Jonathan Mann Health and Human Rights Award for the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, and the Pearson Peace Medal given by the United Nations Association in Canada for outstanding achievements in the field of international service and understanding. He holds twenty-four honourary degrees from Canadian universities.

-citation delivered by mentor, Dr. John Wiens, Dean, Faculty of Education

Stephen H. Lewis