Dr. David Suzuki was awarded the Freedom of the City Award on the grounds of City Hall on Friday October 30. A taiko drumming group opened the ceremony followed by a traditional love song of the Musqueam Nation. The music drew in passers-by to watch as a Western Red Cedar was planted in honour of the renowned environmentalist.
The ceremony continued inside City Hall where Mayor Gregor Robertson made a short speech taking stock of Suzuki’s many contributions to the city and presented him with the Freedom Medal and a framed scroll. The scientist first offered his thanks to Council for their unanimous decision to grant him the award and accepted it on behalf of the thousands of viewers, donors, producers and defendants who made his work possible.
Suzuki closed by expressing his pride for Vancouverites having elected councillors who “encourage greater local self-reliance and sufficiency in food and energy” and lauded their support for more recycling, public transit and bike infrastructure. He added that the city still has challenges, especially in terms of social inequities and the conditions of the poor.
While traditionally the award recipient is granted with a permit for free city parking, Mayor Robertson more appropriately presented Suzuki with a free lifetime transit pass.
The Freedom of the City is the highest award given by the City of Vancouver. The City grants the award only in exceptional cases to individuals of the highest merit. The recipient is usually someone who has gained national and international acclaim in the arts, business, or philanthropy, and who has brought recognition to Vancouver through his or her achievements.
In an earlier written statement, Mayor Gregor Robertson said: “Dr. David Suzuki has dedicated his life and career to educating and inspiring us all to take care of our planet and all who live here,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “He has touched the lives of countless communities and people across Canada, and his voice continues to ring loud and true on the urgent global challenges of climate change and species extinction. In recognition of his exceptional leadership to benefit Vancouver, Canada, and the world, it is an honour to present Dr. Suzuki with the Freedom of the City.”