The Nature of David Suzuki

This year we will be awarding The Lifetime Achievement Award to David Suzuki at the 4th Annual Nikkei Place Community Awards Dinner talking place on September 20, 2014 at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre.

David’s passion for science and discovering the wonders of nature have led him to become a world leader in sustainable ecology, a respected and admired biologist, environmentalist, genetic scientist, author, activist and popular CBC TV host of the award-winning Nature of Things. He was made a companion to the Order of Canada and has been presented with a lifetime of prestigious awards for his work, including 25 honorary degrees, 52 books, numerous scientific journals, four Gemini awards, and many prizes for science, ecology and broadcasting.

You can take the boy out of BC but you can’t take BC out of the boy

David, a brilliant and sought-after scientist, could have chosen a different path when exiled to Toronto from BC. He received his B.A. in Biology from Amherst College in Massachusetts, and his Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Chicago. He worked as a genetics professor in Edmonton and was offered, among others, positions in Hawaii and Berkely, but he chose to work towards making a difference in BC and in Canada. From an early age, he learned from his father, Carr, to stand up for what he believed in. In spite of being bullied in Slocan by Nikkei and Caucasians alike, and being declared an enemy alien by his own country, David never wavered in his loyalty to Canada. He wrote, “Youngsters need to know that it’s possible to become a scientist and compete while remaining in Canada.”

The upcoming Lifetime Achievement award from the National Nikkei Community is not only an acknowledgement of his incredible achievements in science but also reflects an appreciation of David’s mentorship and candor about all of who he is, the nature of him. In his biographies, he acknowledges all the people who have shaped his life, from his best friend and mentor/father Carr, to his wife Tara, his five children, his grandchildren and key people he has met through his stewardship on environmental matters. David’s transparency about himself and what he stands for are admirable.

From skipping three grades in Bay Farm’s Pine Crest School, to reciting oratorical contests to his father, to his start in broadcasting with “Suzuki on Science” while a professor at UBC in 1969, to speaking out about Windy Bay in Haida Gwaii, the Stein Valley, the Amazon and the Great Barrier Reef, David has always pushed himself to achieve more and to make a real difference in the world.

 Science Matters

He has proved over and over that science matters on a global scale. His message to a world-wide audience has been enhanced by the creation of the David Suzuki Foundation which endeavors to continue his work without the sway of government payoffs, or profiteering but having an influence on political and industrial issues.

In recognition of his passion for preserving the natural world, David has been honoured by aboriginal peoples around the globe. He has been given names such as Karnemeyu or ‘Holy Mountain’, Nuchi or ‘Mountain’, and Natooeestuk, meaning ‘Sacred Mountain.’ David continues his work with and empowers the Ainu of Japan, and natives of Papua New Guinea. His down-to -earth approach and manner have garnered him respect and trust.

Perhaps his proudest legacy, carried down from his fishing and boatbuilding family, is that he has mentored and encouraged his children through his actions to do what they love, walk their talk, and affect change in this world.