Fonds UBCA-ARC-1466 - David Suzuki fonds

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David Suzuki fonds

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2.21 m of textual records and other material.

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Name of creator


Biographical history

David Takayoshi Suzuki, Ph.D., is an award-winning and internationally recognized scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. Born on March 24th, 1936, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Suzuki spent his early childhood years in the back of his parents' dry-cleaning business in Marpole. Still, life would change drastically for Suzuki and his family when he was six years old. In 1942, after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Prime Minister Mackenzie King ordered all Japanese males between the ages of 14 and 45 to move more than 160 km inland to "safeguard" the Pacific Coast from Japanese spies and the possibility of attack. Suzuki's father was sent to a labour camp in Solsqua, in BC's interior. Two months later, the dry-cleaning business was sold by the BC government and Suzuki, his mother and two sisters were sent to a camp in Slocan City a few hundred kilometres from the camp where his father was held. David Suzuki was one of over 22,000 individuals of Japanese origin, three-quarters of who were naturalized or Canadian-born, interned in camps in BC's interior during WW II. After the war, the Suzuki family was forced to move east, eventually settling in London, Ontario. Suzuki's father and mother began work for Suzuki Brothers Construction Company, a business run by his father's brothers.
Accepting a scholarship to attend Amherst College in Massachusetts in 1954, Suzuki began his lifelong interest in Zoology and graduated with Honours in 1958. After receiving his Ph.D. in Zoology from Chicago in 1961, Suzuki went to California as a visiting professor at Berkeley. While in California, Suzuki's influences expanded to include the fight for equal rights - he was a member of the NAACP throughout the 50s and 60s. In addition, influenced by works such as Rachel Carson's 1962 book Silent Spring, Suzuki began to interest the growing environmental movement and consciousness.
Throughout the 60s and 70s, Suzuki's academic career flourished. He held numerous visiting professorships in Canada, Puerto Rico, and the US. After several years as an assistant and associate professor, he was made a full professor in the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia in 1969. This position was retained until his retirement in 2001. Well respected and known in his field from a young age, Suzuki received the E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship Award for the Outstanding Canadian Research Scientist Under 35 from 1969-1972. Since then, Suzuki has received numerous professional and scientific awards, including twenty-one honorary doctorates from universities in Canada, the United States and Australia. In addition, he is the author of more than 170 professional and academic papers written during his career and is currently professor emeritus with UBC's Sustainable Development Research Institute.
Suzuki's career in broadcasting began in 1979 with his award-winning popular science television series for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, The Nature of Things.It is now seen in over 50 countries worldwide. In addition, Suzuki has hosted and produced countless other programs for the CBC, PBS in the US, and the Discovery Channel. These include The Secret of Life, A Planet for the Taking, for which he won the United Nations Environment Program Medal in 1985, and the mini-series The Sacred Balance, which aired in 2002. In addition, Suzuki founded the long-running radio series Quirks and Quarks for CBC Radio and has been a regular contributor to the national broadcaster both on television and radio. Suzuki has received consistently high acclaim for his 30 years of award-winning work in broadcasting, explaining the complexities of science in a compelling, easily understood way. In addition and as a supplement to his broadcast work, Suzuki has published over 40 books, including the children's series Looking At and Did you know, which was co-authored with his daughter, Laura Suzuki. In addition, Suzuki has been writing his Science Matters column, published weekly in thirty-one Canadian newspapers and magazines throughout Canada, since 1989.
Internationally respected, David Suzuki has received countless awards and honours in his career as a scientist, his work as a broadcaster, his civil rights endeavours, and his position as a leading, influential environmentalist and native rights activist. Among his many honours, he was awarded the UNESCO Kalinga Prize for science in 1986. He was made a member of the Order of British Columbia in 1995 and a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2006. In addition, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of British Columbia Alumni Association in 2000.
As a broadcaster, Suzuki has won numerous accolades, including four Gemini Awards for his work hosting The Nature of Things and a Governor General's Award for Conservation for A Planet for the Taking. He has won numerous local and national bookseller awards, and The Autobiography, published in 2006, won the Canadian Libris Award. He has been honoured by First Nations peoples with six names, formal adoption by two tribes, and an honorary membership in the Dehcho First Nation. Suzuki is a member or honorary member of countless international and national councils, advisory committees, and boards relating to his professional and scientific endeavours and has pursued work with civil rights groups, including the Canadian and BC Civil Liberties Unions. In 1990, Suzuki and his wife, Tara Cullis, co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation. The Foundation was officially opened in 1991 and concentrates predominantly on environmental issues, including aquaculture, biodiversity, climate change, global warming, ecosystem-based forestry, and sustainable fisheries.
David Suzuki has five children, Tamiko, Laura, and Troy from his first marriage, and Sarika and Severn, his daughters with Tara, whom he married in 1972. He also has three grandchildren.

Custodial history

Scope and content

Fonds consists of textual and audiovisual material related to David Suzuki's professional work. It includes notes and manuscripts of several of his books, including From Pebbles to Computers and Sciencescape and copies of correspondence relating to his articles published by The Globe and Mail, the Southam News Syndicate and Science Dimension in the 1980s. It also includes correspondence relating to his professional work, his broadcasting and literary career, his work in the Department of Zoology at UBC, and research materials, information and correspondence regarding various associations to which Suzuki belonged or had dealings. It also includes recordings of David Suzuki's "Discovery" and "Equinox" from 1983-1990 and video recordings of some episodes of "The Nature of Things" from 1994, and copies of his speeches from 1985-2009.

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Physical description

Includes 374 audiocassette tapes, 14 videocassette tapes, and 172 photographs.

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