Romeo Dallaire wins UVic's first-ever Public Humanist award


Lieutenant General Roméo Dallaire. Image (copyright): Michelle Campbell, CEO, St Joseph's Health Care Foundation, London Ontario.

Retired lieutenant-general, former Canadian senator and best-selling author Roméo Dallaire will receive the first-ever Public Humanist award this month from the University of Victoria’s Faculty of Humanities for his tireless efforts to change the world for the better.

Dallaire’s deep humanitarian commitment evokes the spirit, impact and importance of the humanities. His life’s work enriches human dignity, provokes critical inquiry and inspires humane feelings. Twenty-five years ago, as commander of the United Nations’ peacekeeping-mission during the Rwandan genocide, Dallaire tried to protect the country's vulnerable minority Tutsi population even as world leaders ignored his warnings of the coming violence. Some 800,000 people were killed.

Since Rwanda, Dallaire has dedicated his life to humanitarian efforts and is striving to eradicate the use of children in conflict. He has also worked tirelessly as an advocate for veterans returning from combat.

UVic Dean of Humanities Chris Goto-Jones says the retired lieutenant-general embodies the ethos of the faculty’s newly launched Humanitas Awards.

“He’s well known as a humanitarian and a leader, but also as an accomplished writer and a generous, honest observer of the human spirit. Through his cultivated commitments and his actions, Dallaire has sought to change the world for the better, which is precisely what we seek to recognize with these new awards.”
–UVic Dean of Humanities Chris Goto-Jones

Dallaire’s integrity and courage in the face of unimaginable horror have made him one of Canada’s most admired citizens. He has co-written three books, including Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, which won the 2003 Shaughnessy Cohen Award for Political Writing and 2004 Governor General's Award for nonfiction.

Dallaire will accept the Public Humanist award and deliver a keynote address at an evening gala on March 15 in Victoria at the Baumann Centre. Science fiction and fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin and UVic alumna Ashli Akins will also be honoured at the event.

Le Guin, the late and esteemed American novelist who passed away last year at age 88, will be posthumously honoured with the Historic Humanist Award for her visionary work as a thinker and writer of more than 50 books, which defied genre and inspired legions of artists. Akins, who graduated from UVic with a Bachelor of Arts in 2009 (a double major in Latin American studies and environmental studies and a minor in professional writing), will receive the Emerging Humanist Award. Akins founded the non-profit initiative Mosqoy, which has collaborated with Indigenous Quechua communities of the Peruvian Andes since 2006 to support the post-secondary education of more than 70 students and promote the artisan work of 150 women through fair trade.

Tickets to the Faculty of Humanities’ Humanitas Awards gala are still available.

A high-resolution photo is available upon request. 

Due to time constraints, General Dallaire will not be able to consider any pre-event media opportunities, but media are welcome to attend the gala (although no recording is permitted). 

After the presentation, General Dallaire will be available for media questions as they relate to the Humanitas Awards and, in addition, Dean Goto-Jones is available for commentary in advance of the event and also with General Dallaire after the presentation.

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In this story

Keywords: award, human rights

People: Romeo Dallaire, Chris Goto-Jones, Ashli Akins, Ursula Le Guin

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