Don’t pass up the opportunity to effect change, War Child founder tells grads

Dr. Samantha Nutt, a medical professional with more than 15 years of experience working in war zones, is committed to peace, human rights and social justice. She has worked in some of the world’s most violent flashpoints – with War Child Canada, the United Nations and non-governmental organizations – including Iraq, Afghanistan, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Somalia.


Last Friday, during Spring Convocation ceremonies for graduates of the Faculty of Education, York University awarded Nutt an honorary doctor of laws degree in recognition of her work on behalf of the rights Dr. Samantha Nutt addresses graduands of the Faculty of Educationof the world’s children.

Left: Dr. Samantha Nutt addresses graduands of the Faculty of Education

The following is an excerpt from her convocation address:

“No matter how brutal, violent or heart-wrenching our world can sometimes be, there is never a failure of opportunity to effect change – we are simply too often paralyzed by our unwillingness to even try. As you move forward with your lives and careers, you should not squander those questions about who you are and what kind of contribution you hope to make in your lifetime.

“These are uncertain times, to be sure. But it is an uncertainty that is not to be feared, because it allows us to make different choices – different choices about who we are and what we stand for as Canadians, and as human beings. It is the choice between being the same and being different. Between walking away and getting involved. Between apathy and leadership. It’s your world. It’s your legacy. And these are your decisions to make.”

From left, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, Dr. Samantha Nutt and Chancellor Roy McMurtryRight: From left, York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri, Dr. Samantha Nutt and Chancellor Roy McMurtry


Over the course of her professional career, and as the founder and executive director of War Child Canada, Nutt has spearheaded efforts to provide direct humanitarian support and long-term programming to war-affected children and their families, and to promote greater awareness in Canada concerning the rights of children everywhere.

Her work has been widely recognized around the world. Among other honours, she was the recipient of Canada’s Top 40 under 40 Award and was recently named one of 25 Transformational Canadians, both by The Globe and Mail. Nutt was also designated by Time magazine as one of Canada’s Five Leading Activists and was chosen as one of 200 Young Global Leaders in the World by the World Economic Forum. She was also awarded the Order of Ontario, the highest official honour given by the province.

York’s 2011 Spring Convocation ceremonies are streamed live and then archived online. However this convocation address is not available electronically. To view other convocation addresses, visit the Convocation website.