Yosef Wosk

Yosef Wosk

Yosef Wosk, a scholar, educator, author, businessperson, art collector, explorer, rabbi, peace activist, and philanthropist was awarded the Freedom of the City on March 1, 2022, in recognition of his philanthropic work benefiting libraries and museums, academic excellence, nature conservation, health care, community and social services, heritage preservation, science, humanities, reconciliation, and the arts in Vancouver and around the world.

Born in Vancouver in 1949, Dr. Yosef Wosk is a multidisciplinary thinker and community activist who founded the Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars, the Philosophers’ Café, and a number of schools. He championed museums and libraries on every continent, assisted individuals and institutions with publication grants, planted hundreds of thousands of trees, and endowed the City’s Poet Laureate. His extensive travels culminated in expeditions to both the North and South Poles.

A widely celebrated community activist

His achievements have been widely celebrated locally and abroad, resulting in numerous awards and accolades. Dr. Wosk — who earned seven university degrees and received honorary doctorates from Simon Fraser University and Emily Carr University of Art and Design — is an Officer of the Order of Canada, a Member of the Order of British Columbia, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

He is the recipient of both the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, the United Nation’s Culture Beyond Borders Medal, the President’s Award from the Canadian Museums Association, and a Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Community Service from the NAACP. 

About the Freedom of the City award

The Freedom of the City is the highest award given by the City of Vancouver. The City grants the award only in exceptional cases to individuals of the highest merit. The recipient is usually someone who has gained national and international acclaim in the arts, business, or philanthropy, and who has brought recognition to Vancouver through his or her achievements.

The City began honouring individuals with the Freedom of the City Award in 1936.

Recipients of the award are recognized during a special ceremony at Council, which consists of the reading and presentation of a framed scroll, the Freedom Medal, and a decal that permits free parking at City parking meters. Recipients have their names inscribed in the Book of Freedoms and are entitled to be called Freeman of the City of Vancouver.

Members of City Council nominate individuals for the award. According to the Vancouver Charter (Section 205), these nominations must be approved by unanimous vote of Council.