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Honorary degree citation - Kim Thúy

By: Philippe Caignon, June 2017

M. le Chancelier, Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour to present to you Ms. Kim Thúy, Governor General’s Award-winning author and ambassador of the refugee experience.

Ms. Thúy came to Canada at the age of 10 as a Vietnamese “boat person” – a refugee fleeing her post-Vietnam War country under perilous circumstances.

As an author, Ms. Thúy has become a voice of the refugee experience and a catalyst for reflection on Canadian values, the journey to a safer home and the promise of renewal that a fresh start brings.

Her debut novel, Ru, tells the story of a young woman who is forced to leave her country during the Vietnam War.

Ru — which means "lullaby" in Vietnamese — was a runaway bestseller in Quebec and France.

Her sophomore publication, À toi, debuted in 2011, and consists of a series of letters exchanged with fellow writer Pascal Janovjak.

Two years later, Ms. Thúy’s novella Man appeared on bookshelves.

Her most recent novel is called Vi, published by Libre Expression in 2016.

En moins d’une décennie, Mme Thúy s’est illustrée dans la société québecoise pour devenir l’une des voix les plus prééminentes de la province, voix qui exprime l’expérience des immigrants au Canada.

Qui plus est, les travaux de Mme Thúy lui ont valu de nombreuses distinctions prestigieuses et la reconnaissance internationale.

En 2010, par exemple, Ru s’est vu déscerné le Prix du Gouverneur général dans la catégorie romans et nouvelles de langue française, et le Prix du Grand Public du Salon du livre de Montréal.

The book also won CBC’s Canada Reads Competition in 2015, and was a finalist for both the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012.

That same year, Ms. Thúy accompanied Canada’s Governor-General and Concordia honorary doctorate recipient David Johnson to Malaysia as an official member of the Canadian delegation.

It was her first time revisiting Malaysia since having stayed at a refugee camp there as a child.

En 2016, Mme Thúy est devenue porte-parole du Petit Robert, dictionnaire français de renommée internationale et est entrée dans Le Robert illustré 2018.

Les écrits et la présence médiatique de Mme Thúy nous appellent à penser aux valeurs canadiennes, à nos responsabilités internationales et aux répercussions de nos décisions actuelles sur les générations à venir.

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

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