Canadian Leaders - David Suzuki

By Daniel Liang


David Suzuki is an award winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He was born on March 24, 1936 in Vancouver. He is a third-generation Japanese-Canadian. His family suffered internment when Canada declared war on Japan in 1942, and Japanese people in Canada were sent to labour camps. David graduated from Amherst College (Massachusetts) in 1958 with an Honours BA in Biology. He also earned a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Chicago in 1961. He held a research associateship in the Biology Division of Tennessee's Oak Ridge National Lab (1961 – 62), and was an Assistant Professor in Genetics at the University of Alberta (1962 – 63), since then has been a faculty member of the University of British Columbia.

What was the person involved in that made them a leader?

David Suzuki was involved in biology, genetics and recognized as a world leader in sustainable ecology. His work on the fruit fly gained him worldwide recognition. Awards he received for his scientific work include Steacie Memorial Fellowship as the best young Canadian scientist in 1969, UNESCO's Kalinga Prize for Science, the United Nations Environment Program Medal, UNEPs Global 500 and the Right Livelihood Award that is considered the Alternative Nobel Prize. He is a dedicated environmentalist, and co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation, an organization that helps to protect the environment of Canada. He also has a 30 year award-winning broadcasting career. For example, in 1979, he became the host of the television series The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. He has won five Gemini awards for being the host of several Canadian television series.

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What actions did the individual take to show leadership?

David Suzuki is considered a leader in his scientific fields and broadcasting, but the most important thing he did to show his leadership is co-founding the David Suzuki Foundation. Their goals are to protect the diversity of life, quality of life and environment of Canada, raising awareness of issues regarding climate change, wildlife, health, etc. They establish environmental rights, justice and policies by working with citizens, constitutional experts and lawmakers. They also work with businesses and the government to find solutions for our environment using scientific research, education and policies. This shows a high level of collaborative leadership.

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What leadership traits did he apply?

Lead from the front, but don’t leave your base behind

The goal of the David Suzuki Foundation is to conserve our environment so that future generations can have a healthy, high quality of life. His organization aims to lead others with collaboration. Instead of imposing restrictions and policies, he works with people from all walks of life to create a solution that is better for the common good.

Lead from the back, and let others believe they are in front

David Suzuki aims to educate others about saving energy, reducing pollution and conserving our green and blue space. This gives them the opportunity to take action and take everyday steps to building livable communities and transform our economy and natural resources for future generations. It also empowers them to lead others.

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer

If there was an enemy to David Suzuki Foundation, it would be everyone. We are all responsible for pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. But, the greenhouse gas producers and environment damagers are industries (lumber, power plants, etc.) But, instead of shunning or banning their “enemies”, David Suzuki Foundation works with them. One way industries can be helped is financial incentives for new technology, such as ventilation and machinery that filter emissions and increase energy efficiency.


David Suzuki had a long and successful career, gained world recognition, and received many awards. He is considered a world leader in many ways, including his scientific work. His most important show of leadership is the David Suzuki Foundation, a collaborative leadership. He led people from all walks of life to connect to nature and take steps to reduce our impact on the environment. He even applied three of Mandela’s 8 lessons of leadership. All this makes David Suzuki a great leader and an example for others.

Works Cited

David Suzuki Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. <>.

David Suzuki Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. <>.

Phillipson, Donald, and Patricia G. Bailey. David Suzuki - The Canadian Encyclopedia. N.p., 20 Mar. 2014. Web. 19 Sept. 2014. <>.