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Environmental justice advocate to receive Calgary Peace Prize for battle to save Pacific nation from ravages of rising sea levels

Sept. 21, 2018

On the International Day of Peace, the John de Chastelain Peace Studies Initiative at Mount Royal University announced the recipient of the 2019 Calgary Peace Prize.

His Excellency, Anote Tong, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to combat climate change and the enormous risk it poses to his atoll nation of Kiribati, will receive the award at the Calgary Peace Prize ceremony on April 3, 2019.

"The Calgary Peace Prize inspires the leadership needed to build the greater global moral values which ensure that no one is ever left behind,” said Tong of receiving the award.

Born in 1952 on Fanning Island (also known as Tabuaeran) in the Line Islands, Tong was president of the Republic of Kiribati from 2003 to 2016. He has raised awareness around the world of the impacts of climate change. Tong has passionately argued that due to rising sea levels his country in the Central Pacific’s Micronesia region may cease to exist and that all of its people may need to be re-settled.

"Anote Tong has dedicated his life to fighting against the ills of climate change.” said Peace Studies Initiative Director and MRU sociology professor Mark Ayyash, PhD. “Climate change has many serious consequences, including war and displacement. The advancement of peace and justice can only move forward when people follow his extraordinary example and take action to combat climate change."

Tong created one of the largest marine-protected areas in the world, the 408,250 square kilometre Phoenix Islands Protected Area, which became a United Nations World Heritage site in 2008. He has received many awards for his leadership on climate change and ocean conservation. His story was highlighted in the acclaimed 2018 documentary Anote’s Ark that was directed by Canadian Matthieu Rytz and premiered at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Awarded by the John de Chastelain Peace Studies Initiative at Mount Royal University, The Calgary Peace Prize recognizes outstanding individuals from the global community who work towards making the world a more just, safer, and less violent place. Previous winners include Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella, the Honourable Douglas Roche, the Truth and Reconciliation Commissioners of Canada, Retired Lt.-Gen. Romeo Dallaire, Dr. Samantha Nutt, and Emmanuel Jal.

The John de Chastelain Peace Studies Initiative’s mission is to build, develop, and disseminate interdisciplinary knowledge on a range of local and global issues dealing with peace and violence.

For further information, and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Peter Glenn, Senior Media Relations Officer
Media cell: 403.463.6930
mediarelations@mtroyal.ca