Stephen Lewis Talk Part of Citizenship Awareness Week

January 14, 2008 - News Release

Stephen Lewis, one of the world's most influential speakers on human rights, social justice and international development, will give a talk at 7 p.m. Jan. 17 at the University of Guelph's War Memorial Hall.

Best known for his international efforts to bring attention to the AIDS crisis in Africa, Lewis will be speaking on "Linking Local and Global Citizenship."

The event is sponsored by Student Affairs in collaboration with a number of other university organizations and is part of Citizenship Awareness Week running Jan 13 to 20.

Advance tickets to hear Lewis speak are sold out, but there will free tickets available to the first 100 at the door.

“The week's events are designed to increase civic participation such as voting and volunteering, particularly among students,” said Emily Reed, co-ordinator of Citizenship and Community Engagement in U of G’s Student Life office. “We hope students will take the opportunity to reflect on what citizenship means to them, both locally and globally.”

Lewis is co-director of AIDS-Free World, an international advocacy organization that promotes urgent and effective global responses to AIDS. He is also head of the Stephen Lewis Foundation, a charitable organization aimed at helping people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa.

He established the foundation while serving as the United Nations secretary general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. Lewis held this position from 2001 to 2006 and has been widely praised for his effectiveness at convincing leaders and the public that they have a responsibility to respond to the AIDS crisis.

His work with the UN spanned more than two decades. He was deputy executive director of UNICEF at the organization's global headquarters in New York from 1995 to 1999 and Canada's ambassador to the UN from 1984 to 1988.

Based on his experiences, Lewis wrote a bestsellering book called Race Against Time, in which he describes the disjuncture between what the international community promises and its actions in responding to the pandemic in Africa.

Prior to his involvement with the UN, Lewis was an elected member of the Ontario Legislative Assembly from 1963 to 1978 and became the leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party in 1970.

He is currently a scholar-in-residence at the Institute on Globalization and the Human Condition at McMaster University and is also a senior adviser to the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York.

In addition to Lewis's talk, a number of other events are taking place during the week to encourage active citizenship.

On Jan. 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be an interactive canvas in Zavitz Hall foyer, where students can artistically express what citizenship means to them.

The Centre for International Programs will host a Global Café Jan. 17 at 10 a.m. in Room 103 of the University Centre, where students can meet new incoming exchange students and students who have just returned from studying abroad.

On Jan. 18, Student Volunteer Connections will host an information session on volunteering abroad from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in UC 103.

The second annual Positive Social Action Conference runs Jan. 19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Bullring and the MacKinnon Building. The conference is aimed at engaging students around issues of becoming involved locally and internationally and will include panel discussions, hands-on activities and seminars.

The week wraps up Jan. 20 with a tree and wildflower transplanting from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Green Legacy Tree Nursery, hosted by Student Life. Participants will be picked up by bus at the Mountain Hall overpass at 9:50 a.m.

For more information about the events or contact Reed at 519-824-4120, Ext. 52782, or

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982,

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