Reflecting on “Nukes and the Nobel: A Conversation with Setsuko Thurlow”

Thursday, June 14, 2018

In 2017, Hiroshima survivor and nuclear disarmament advocate, Setsuko Thurlow, received the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). Yesterday afternoon, Thurlow received an honorary doctor of laws degree from the University of Waterloo. Thurlow addressed an auditorium of Faculty of Arts graduates and their families, sharing her story and encouraging students to join ICAN’s cause, or to seek out a cause of their own.

Setsuko receives her honorary doctorateConrad Grebel University College was pleased to have nominated Thurlow for this degree, and held a public celebration of her advocacy efforts following the convocation.  Community members joined Executive Director of Project Ploughshares, Cesar Jaramillo – another ICAN member – in a conversation with Thurlow about her advocacy journey.

The evening’s conversation pointed to a significant and inspiring truth: As demonstrated through ICAN, there is a new generation of activists who have picked up the mantle of advocating for nuclear disarmament from the survivors of nuclear attacks. For Thurlow, the most exciting thing about the Nobel Peace Prize ICAN received in 2017 is that this agenda is not fizzling out. Instead, support for nuclear disarmament is building, and young people are catching the vision. As one student who attended last night’s event reflected, “I was left with Thurlow’s resounding message to ‘keep moving towards the light no matter what obstacles you face’.”

Thurlow and Jaramillo also noted the resurgence of attention this issue is gathering within Canada, despite our current government’s refusal to join the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. For instance, the City of Toronto is setting itself up to be a national example by reaffirming itself as a Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone.

Within this hope-filled message, Thurlow acknowledged her affinity for the Region of Waterloo, where she has always felt “a great sense of kinship.”  Our community will long remember this opportunity to honour Setsuko Thurlow.

Read the KW Record’s story on Thurlow at the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Arts Convocation ceremony.

See photos of the convocation ceremony and celebration event to follow.