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Convocation 2011

NeloferAt Friday’s Convocation I had the privilege of sharing the stage with our Class of 2011–including the recipient of this year’s Honorary Doctor of Letters, Nelofer Pazira. A Canadian filmmaker, author and journalist, Dr. Pazira grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan, before escaping to Pakistan in 1989 and emigrating to Moncton, New Brunswick the following year. In 1996, she attempted to return to Afghanistan to find a childhood friend left behind. A feature film, Kandahar, was inspired by her story and won a 2001 Jury Prize in Cannes; and later that year, as Moses Znaimer’s Idea City reported,”the film had its North American release at the Toronto Film Festival on September 8, three days before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre.”

In 2003, Dr. Pazira co-produced and co-directed  Return to Kandahar, which won the Federico Fellini Prize from UNESCO and a Gemini Award for “best political or social documentary.” She has also directed two documentaries about Iran and has published widely, including her 2005 biography A Bed of Red Flowers: In Search of My Afghanistan. Her most recent film, Act of Dishonour, portrays the complexities of honour killing.

At Friday’s Convocation Dr. Pazira spoke with elegance and eloquence on the value of education, sharing her personal journey and telling the graduates that her honorary doctorate “serves as a protection,” especially to those who are cynical and say ‘it’s not worth it’ to speak the truth about global and individual issues.  To see the full Convocation Ceremony, including Pazira’s address, CLICK HERE.

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