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Stephen Lewis

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Photo: Farhang Ghajar/CBC

Stephen Lewis

Award Received

Honorary Degree

Convocation Ceremony

Spring 2015 Convocation

Stephen Lewis is one of Canada’s most influential advocates on international human rights, HIV/AIDS eradication and social justice. His visionary humanitarian work to turn the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa is internationally recognized and celebrated.

Lewis is the Board Chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation and co-founder and co-director of AIDS-Free World. He is a Senior Fellow of the Enough Project, an initiative that aims to end genocide and crimes against humanity; an immediate past member of the Board of Directors of the Clinton Health Access Initiative; and Emeritus Board Member of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative. Lewis served as a Commissioner on the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, contributing to its landmark report in 2012.

Lewis’ work with the United Nations spanned more than two decades. He was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from June 2001 through 2006. From 1995 to 1999, he was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF at the organization’s global headquarters in New York. From 1984 through 1988, he was Canada’s Ambassador to the United Nations.   

In 2005, Lewis delivered the Massey Lectures; the resulting book, Race Against Time, was a Canadian bestseller. In the lectures, Lewis argued that significant changes are required to meet the Millennium Development Goals in Africa by this year’s deadline.

In 2003, Lewis was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, our country’s highest honour for lifetime achievement. In 2007, King Letsie III, monarch of the Kingdom of Lesotho, invested Lewis as Knight Commander of the Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe, the country’s highest honour. In 2012, he was an inaugural recipient of Canada’s Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Lewis is a Professor of Practice in Global Governance at the Institute for the Study of International Development at McGill University and a Professor of Distinction at Ryerson University. This is Lewis’ 40th honorary degree. He holds honorary degrees from Dartmouth College and Johns Hopkins University in the United States and from 37 Canadian universities. 

Photo: Farhang Ghajar/CBC