|Originally posted on August 24, 2006|
|CAW Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award
Human rights and social justice activist Stephen Lewis is the winner of the CAW’
s 2006 Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award.
The author, teacher, politician, diplomat and influential human rights activist has
been outspoken on a range of human rights issues, but none more so than the
HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa.
His work as the United Nations HIV/AIDS Envoy in Africa meant a tireless
speaking schedule to raise awareness on the devastation the pandemic is
causing. It also led to the establishment of the Stephen Lewis Foundation to
Lewis, who could not attend the Constitutional Convention because of his attendance at the Toronto HIV/AIDS conference, will
attend the next CAW Council meeting in December. At a presentation to CAW council in 2003, Lewis provided an emotional and gut
wrenching look at the issue.
“The death spiral is just beginning,” Lewis said. “The people who were infected in the late 1980s and early 1990s have now
developed full blown AIDS and they are beginning to die in huge numbers. And the death rates will continue until the years 2008-
2009. And the number of orphaned kids will multiply and this is where we need the conscience of unions like your own to fight the
“I learned in my democratic socialism that you don’t always win the day you want to win but you never give up the battle,” Lewis
The CAW Nelson Mandela Human Rights Award is presented every three years at the CAW Constitutional Convention to an
individual or to a non-governmental organization for exceptional achievement in the promotion of human rights.
The Award is named in honour of Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa. It recognizes the struggle, courage, and
achievement of Mandela in fighting against apartheid and in advancing human rights and social justice.
The first award was presented to Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma, a democracy leader who has spent years under house arrest for her
fight for human rights and democratic freedoms in her country. The second award went to Craig Keilburger for his untiring work
with the “Free the Children” organization.
The CAW is the largest private sector union in Canada representing 260,000 workers in most major sectors of economy. The CAW
has a long and proud history of human rights activism.