CLC President Hassan Yussuff received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (honoris causa) from Ryerson University on Thursday in Toronto.
“I’m grateful and I’m humbled to receive an honorary degree from this important institution,” said Yussuff in his Convocation address to graduates from Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management and the Yeates School of Graduate Studies.
Shortly after immigrating from Guyana, Hassan became a union member in 1976. He was elected union chairperson in his workplace at the age of 19. He climbed through the ranks of the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) before becoming the organization’s first Human Rights Director. He went on to serve 15 years as Executive Vice-President and Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Labour Congress before being elected in 2014 as the first person of colour to lead Canada’s labour movement. His lifelong commitment to human rights has defined his work as a labour activist.
Yussuff reminded graduates that great leaders work to transform the society we all live in, rather than just operating within it.
“You are the new generation of Canadian leaders. I encourage you to prioritize diversity and inclusion, and to engage in public affairs,” he said.
He referred to the recent examples of the #MeToo movement, Idle No More and Black Lives Matter to highlight the impact of working together in the pursuit of progressive change.
“Progress happens when we work for it together,” said Yussuff. “Believe me when I say never give up because that’s how you will change the world. Thank you for letting me be part of your special day.”