Mark Persaud (right), Chair and chief executive officer of the Canadian International Peace Project and an alumnus of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, has been nominated for the 2006 Seoul Peace Prize.
“I am grateful for this recognition of our work. As Canadians, we should assume a more prominent leadership role in the international community. Hopefully, through our efforts at the Canadian International Peace Project, more Canadians and other global citizens will be prompted to lend their talents to building more peaceful, secure and stable communities domestically and internationally,” said Persaud (LLB ‘91, LLM ‘01).
The Seoul Peace Prize was established in 1990 to commemorate the success of the 24th Olympic Games held in Seoul, Korea, an event in which 160 nations from across the world took part, creating harmony and friendship. The prize encourages individuals and institutions in various fields to enhance world peace and harmony among mankind.
Persaud fled turmoil in Guyana and arrived in Canada in 1983. With no support on arrival and barely out of his teenage years, he started his life in Canada as a homeless person in Toronto. He was rescued off the street during winter by the Scott Mission, a Toronto-based Christian organization that works with the destitute. He then went on to distinguish himself as a tireless volunteer leader with numerous organizations, some of which he started, on a wide range of social issues including refugees, homelessness, poverty, discrimination, community development, and bridge building among Canada’s diverse communities. He has earned a number of distinctions and recognitions for his work.
Persaud later took undergraduate courses at York, then studied at Osgoode Hall Law School and Harvard University. Prior to attending law school he was the founder of TUCERR, a refugee and immigrant aid organization that he coordinated for five years, providing counselling and settlement services to immigrants and refugees from all regions of the world. After being called to the bar, he held a broad range of positions as a prosecutor, counsel to the RCMP and civil litigation counsel. Currently, as Chair and CEO of the Canadian International Peace Project, he leads a non-partisan organization that has brought together individuals and groups to work on domestic and international issues of peace, security and development.
Past laureates of the Seoul Peace Prize include Václav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, George Shultz, former US secretary of state, and Juan Samaranch, former president of the International Olympic Committee.