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Reflections on Ottawa

Today was supposed to be a day of celebration.  Malala Yousafzai was scheduled to become an honourary Canadian Citizen – an honour shared by only a handful of people, including Nelson Mandela, the Aga Khan and the Dalai Lama. Members of our team were invited to hear her and the Prime Minister speak at Central Technical School this afternoon in Toronto before going on to her citizenship ceremony.

Instead, and right now, it has become a day of confusion and mourning. The shooting on Parliament Hill will change our society. Today will be a defining moment in our history.  And it will not be a happy day – all of Ottawa and government buildings there are in lockdown.

The Prime Minister will be addressing the country at some point this afternoon.  He is no longer coming to Toronto for the events with Malala.

It is hard to imagine that this has happened – is happening – here.  But it is, and we will have to have the strength, perseverance and wisdom of Malala to address this.  The rights she advocates for are those which we at UNICEF are working for as well.  So today we are all part of Malala’s movement.

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