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Honorary degree citation - Nahlah Ayed

By: Brian Gabrial, November 2016

Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you award-winning journalist and veteran foreign correspondent Ms. Nahlah Ayed.

Ms. Ayed is a first-generation Canadian.

Her parents came to Canada as Palestinian refugees.

She has spent much of her career covering the Middle East filing reports for CBC television and radio and its online operations.

Her journalism covers a part of the world where reporting often lacks depth or an understanding of the region.

It regularly challenges Canadian viewers and listeners while explaining the enormous complexities of the area.

She is a skilled reporter who maintains the highest level of journalistic integrity.

Canadians have come to depend on Ms. Ayed's stories for their insightful analyses  about some of the world’s most dangerous places.

While many journalists gather information from the safety of protected zones, Ms. Ayed has always sought out the facts from the front lines and from those most affected by unfolding events – often at great personal risk.

At times, she has been physically attacked or threatened to be shot. She even survived the bombing at the Ka-ha-dim-iya Mosque in Baghdad, which killed over 80 people.

Ms. Ayed’s reports have also been technologically groundbreaking for her profession.

During her coverage of the 2007 referendum in Alexandria, Egypt, she was the first correspondent to file stories using a laptop with a webcam -- now a standard practice in the field.

In 2012 Ms. Ayed published A Thousand Farewells: A Reporter’s Journey from Refugee Camp to the Arab Spring, which was shortlisted for a Governor General’s Awards for Literary Merit for the best in Canadian non-fiction.

Her memoir is an insightful analysis of what it’s like to be an Arab-speaking Palestinian-Canadian and a woman working in conflict zones.

Ms. Ayed has garnered must deserved praise for her work.

In 2002, her series on the living conditions in Canadian women’s prisons won a citation for the Michener Award for Meritorious Journalism.

She has received the President’s Award from the Canadian Press and the LiveWire Award for her coverage of the Afghanistan conflict, as well as several Story of the Year and Story of the Month Awards from the Canadian Press.

Ms. Ayed and CBC colleague Diane Grant won the Canadian Association of Journalists’ Award for Human Rights Reporting for their story on Hungarian Roma seeking asylum in Canada.

She was a finalist for the 2012 J-Source Newsperson of the Year Award and has been nominated for three Gemini Awards for her television reports from Iraq, Iran and Egypt.

Ms. Ayed’s stories reflect the human elements of the places she covers. She  shares with us the important voices of people who are often ignored.

She exemplifies how even-handed, compassionate and courageous journalism can affect change in the world.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my distinct privilege and honour to present to you Ms. Nahlah Ayed, so that you may confer upon her the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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