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Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel receives UBC honorary degree

Prof. Elie Wiesel (Right) with UBC President Stephen Toope

Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel received an honorary degree from the University of British Columbia during a special ceremony on the Vancouver campus.

Prof. Wiesel is a renowned author, political activist and professor. His personal experience of the Holocaust led him to use his talents to defend human rights and peace. In 1986, Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on behalf of oppressed people throughout the world.

“In his quest for truth and justice, Professor Wiesel inspires the world to a higher moral vision,” said UBC President Stephen Toope. “He bears witness for the defenceless and brings a message of hope.”

The university awards honorary degrees in recognition of individuals who have made substantial contributions to society.

In 1944, Wiesel was 15 when he and his family were deported from their home in Hungary to Auschwitz. His mother and younger sister perished there. He and his father were later transported to Buchenwald, where his father died shortly before the camp was liberated in 1945.

After the war, Wiesel studied in Paris where he eventually worked as a journalist. In the mid 1950s, he ended his silence about the death camps with his book Night, a memoir that has been translated into more than 30 languages with millions of copies sold.

In 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter appointed Wiesel chairman of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. In 1986, Wiesel and his wife Marion established The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.

In addition to working for human rights in many areas of the world, he has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University, where he is also a faculty member in the departments of religion and philosophy. In 2002, Boston University created the Elie Wiesel Center of Jewish Studies in his honor.

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