Kenia Serrano Puig, president of the Cuban Friendship Institute awards the Council of State Friendship Medal to Nazir Rizvi. Photo: Jose M. Correa

With roots in India, his head in Canada and heart in Cuba - is how Nazir Rizvi describes himself.

Upon receiving the Council of State Friendship Medal, at the Cuban Friendship Institute, the outstanding pacifist, Communist and solidarity activist said that the Cuban Revolution is an example of social justice for the entire world, one which is being independently constructed and advancing, despite aggression from the United States.

A member of the Communist Party of Canada’s Central Committee, Rizvi spoke proudly of meeting the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro in 1995, and of his own passionate devotion to stand by Cuba, and especially to end the criminal U.S. economic, commercial and financial blockade.

Noteworthy in his 86-year personal story are efforts undertaken to donate Braille typewriters and educational materials to blind children in Cuba, and his 15 journeys to the island leading groups of Canadians interested in Cuba’s reality and anti-capitalist social model.

Rizvi studied history, political science and economics at the University of London in the early 1960s; devoted years to the struggle against apartheid in South Africa; and traveled throughout that continent, learning of Cuba’s medical mission in Algeria.

His love for the Cuba Revolution grew, and in 1975 he made his first trip to Havana, departing more determined than ever to increase solidarity activities in Canada, especially in Nova Scotia and British Colombia.

He joined the Cuba-Canada Friendship Organization, founded in 1961 and the oldest such group in the country, and served as president for more than 20 years, most recently contributing to the struggle to free the Cuban Five, unjustly imprisoned in the United States.

In a brief conversation with Granma International, Nazir Rizvi said he was truly moved by the distinction, and reiterated the importance of work to ensure that the world’s youth know about the Cuban Revolution, and solidarity efforts continue, adding, “I never thought I would live to see this new stage with the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, with the opening of embassies in both countries, but there’s no stopping now, from now on, we face new challenges.”