Kenyan Diaspora wins Global Pluralism Award in Canada

The recipients and honourable mentions of the 2017 Global Pluralism Awards, including Alice Nderitu (front row, second left), with His Highness the Aga Khan and the Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin during the award ceremony on November 15, 2017 in Ottawa, Canada. PHOTO | MOEZ VISRAM | AKDN

A Kenyan peacemaker is among three winners of the inaugural Global Pluralism Award from Global Centre for Pluralism in Canada.

Alice Nderitu was recognised for her conflict mediation efforts alongside Leyner Palacios of Colombia and Daniel Webb of Australia on Wednesday.

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The Aga Khan, Chairman of the Global Centre for Pluralism, presented the awards during a ceremony held at the Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat in Ottawa.

The three winners were recognised alongside seven honourable mentions for their unparalleled and sustained commitment to building more inclusive, peaceful societies.

The honourable mentions went to ATD Quart Monde, France; BeAnotherLab, Spain; Fundación Construir, Bolivia; Hand Talk, Brazil; Sawa for Development and Aid, Lebanon; Wapikoni Mobile, Canada and Welcoming America, United States.

In attendance was Beverley McLachlin, the Chief Justice of Canada, among other high-profile guests.

In his speech, The Aga Khan praised the winners for boosting pluralism while maintaining their distinctive heritage and identities.

$50,000 CAD

“Some people make the mistake of thinking that Pluralism requires them to dilute or de-emphasize their own distinctive identities.  That’s not true,” he said.

“What it requires is to ensure that one’s individual identity is strong enough to engage confidently with those of other identities as we all walk together along the road to a better world.”

He said the Global Centre for Pluralism was established to inspire more people working for pluralism.

“Their essential purpose is to share the power of inspiring examples with an ever-wider community of pluralism all across our world, a community that will then create a growing momentum for inclusion – rather than exclusion— as a way to respond to the changes of our world.”

Each of the winners was presented with $50,000 CAD from the Global Centre for Pluralism to further their work in support of pluralism.


Chair of the Award Jury Joe Clark, who is also former Prime Minister of Canada, said the winners had “demonstrated that welcoming diversity has positive outcomes for all— peace, reconciliation and a better life.”

“Pluralism is the deliberate choice to respect and value diversity,” he said.

The Global Pluralism Award, a new prize from the Global Centre for Pluralism, was envisioned by His Highness the Aga Khan to celebrate extraordinary examples of pluralism in action.

The award was launched in a year that is significant for both the Centre’s founders – His Highness the Aga Khan and the Government of Canada.

His Highness the Aga Khan is commemorating his Diamond Jubilee, marking 60 years as the spiritual leader of Shia Ismaili Muslims and of building institutions dedicated to improving quality of life.

Nominations for the 2019 Award will be accepted starting in the spring of 2018.

The award winners:

  • Alice Nderitu, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Kenya

Alice Nderitu of Kenya is a peacemaker, conflict mediator and gender equality advocate who negotiates behind the scenes with African leaders at the highest levels to prevent violence, particularly leading up to elections.

Using both traditional and modern approaches to peacemaking through mediation, she has brokered peace throughout Africa.

She was selected by the jury to showcase the importance of an approach to peacemaking that values diversity, allowing the interests, values and participation of different groups to be respected and included.

  • Leyner Palacios, Comité por los Derechos de las Victimas de Bojayá, Colombia

Fighting for the rights of Colombian conflict victims for over 20 years, Leyner Palacios of Colombia has given a voice to over 11,000 people living in the municipality of Bojayá, Chocó, one of the poorest and most isolated regions of Colombia.

The Global Pluralism Award recognises this community leader and human rights advocate for his work to defend the rights of marginalised afro-Colombian and indigenous communities, as Colombia pursues a peace and reconciliation process following 52 years of civil conflict.

  • Daniel Webb, Human Rights Law Centre, Australia

A leader in defending the rights of refugees and asylum seekers, Australian human rights lawyer, Daniel Webb, has helped shift public opinion by focusing on the voices and human stories of refugees and asylum seekers being sent to offshore detention centres under the Australian government’s policies.

Having led legal cases and advocacy campaigns preventing the deportation of hundreds of men, women and children to offshore detention centres on the islands of Manus and Nauru, Webb is being recognised for his efforts to raise awareness about policies that are a threat to inclusive societies.

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