David Takayoshi Suzuki CC OBC FRSC (born March 24, 1936) is a Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist. Suzuki earned a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Chicago in 1961, and was a professor in the genetics department at the University of British Columbia from 1963 until his retirement in 2001. Since the mid-1970s, Suzuki has been known for his television and radio series, documentaries and books about nature and the environment. He is best known as host of the popular and long-running CBC Television science program The Nature of Things, seen in over 40 countries. He is also well known for criticizing governments for their lack of action to protect the environment.
A longtime activist to reverse global climate change, Suzuki co-founded the David Suzuki Foundation in 1990, to work “to find ways for society to live in balance with the natural world that does sustain us”. The Foundation’s priorities are: oceans and sustainable fishing, climate change and clean energy, sustainability, and Suzuki’s Nature Challenge. The Foundation also works on ways to help protect the oceans from large oil spills such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Suzuki has also served as a director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association from 1982 to 1987.
Suzuki was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 2009. His 2011 book, The Legacy, won the Nautilus Book Award. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada. In 2004, David Suzuki ranked fifth on the list of final nominees in a CBC Television series that asked viewers to select The Greatest Canadian of all time.
Suzuki has a twin sister named Marcia, as well as two other siblings, Geraldine (now known as Aiko) and Dawn. He was born in 1936 to Setsu Nakamura and Kaoru Carr Suzuki in Vancouver, British Columbia, where his parents were also born. Suzuki’s maternal and paternal grandparents had immigrated to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century from Hiroshima Prefecture and Aichi Prefecture respectively.
A third-generation Japanese Canadian (“Canadian Sansei”), Suzuki’s family suffered internment in British Columbia early during the Second World War until after the war ended in 1945. In June 1942, the government sold the Suzuki family’s dry-cleaning business, then interned Suzuki, his mother, and two sisters in a camp at Slocan in the British Columbia Interior. His father had been sent to a labour camp in Solsqua two months earlier. Suzuki’s sister Dawn was born in the internment camp.
After the war, Suzuki’s family, like other Japanese Canadian families, were forced to move east of the Rockies. The Suzukis moved to Etobicoke, Leamington, and later to London in Ontario. Suzuki, in interviews, has many times credited his father for having interested him in and sensitized him to nature.
Suzuki attended Mill Street Elementary School and Grade 9 at Leamington Secondary School before moving to London, Ontario, where he attended London Central Secondary School.