media release

Scottish minister makes Tartan Day splash

April 01, 2014

Leith Davis (North Burnaby resident), 778.782.4833, 616-4770 (cell)
Hannah Perrin, Scottish Development International, Canada (arranging media interviews for Yousaf, 647.625.1287 (cell),
Carol Thorbes, PAMR, 778.782.3035,


Scotland’s first Muslim minister Humza Yousaf, a Scottish National Party (SNP) Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP), will kick off Simon Fraser University’s annual free public Tartan Day celebrations on April 5. A key advocate of Scotland’s current independence movement and a member of the party in power, which is leading the movement, Yousaf will deliver his talk Scotland’s Future.

SFU’s Centre for Scottish Studies (CSS) will host Tartan Day, 10 a.m. to noon at the Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue, and Yousaf’s Canadian visit in Vancouver during Scotland Week.

Tartan Day is an annual Scottish celebration, observing Scottish independence at the signing of the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.

A collaborative initiative involving the Scottish government and its economic development agencies, Scotland Week has the country’s political stars, such as Yousaf, traveling the world to showcase the country’s achievements and aspirations.

Yousaf was Scotland’s youngest SNP MSP to be elected to parliament at age 26 in 2011. Now the country’s Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Yousaf was born in Glasgow, Scotland but hails from Pakistani and Kenyan parental heritage. He turns 29 on April 7 while in San Francisco.

Firming up trade links with North American companies and engaging with Canadian politicians, SFU students and staff, and members of North America’s Scottish diaspora will be high on Yousaf’s agenda during Scotland Week.

 “Scotland’s relationship with Canada is very important to us, and we are committed to strengthen that friendship in the years ahead,” says Yousaf. “I want to use this visit to Canada to build on our strong cultural and historical links, and to explore opportunities for investment and trade, and exchange of skills and expertise.

“The internationally recognised prestige of Simon Fraser University will ensure my visit will take off on the best possible footing."

Leith Davis, CSS’s director and an English professor, hopes to tie in SFU’s Tartan Day with discussing Scotland’s current efforts to break away from Britain.

“My students will hopefully be asking the minister many questions. For them, it’s a unique opportunity to engage in experiential learning,” says Davis.

She teaches Eighteenth-Century Scottish Studies, a course partially devoted to comparing debates and literature surrounding the 1707 Union between England and Scotland with the rhetoric being used in the current debate on Scottish independence.

Tartan Day will also feature John Craig, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences dean, unveiling a new Scottish history lectureship and plans to offer classes in Gaelic and Highland dancing. A new Scottish and Celtic club started by Thomas Budd, an SFU economics student, will make its presence known.

The event’s entertainment will feature SFU students piping, the Vancouver Gaelic Choir singing and the Junior North Shore Celtic Ensemble in concert.  Also, Highland dance champion, Fiona Lee, will be accompanied by her brother Alastair Lee on the pipes.

Simon Fraser University is consistently ranked among Canada's top comprehensive universities and is one of the top 50 universities in the world under 50 years old. With campuses in Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey, B.C., SFU engages actively with the community in its research and teaching, delivers almost 150 programs to more than 30,000 students, and has more than 125,000 alumni in 130 countries.


When he’s not pursuing political work, which includes community work on behalf of youth, charity fundraising, media work for Islamic Relief, volunteer radio and helping the homeless and asylum seekers, Humza Yousaf pursues his hobbies. The football fan loves motor biking and rides a Yamaha 600.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

<p><a href="/content/sfu/sfunews/comment_guidelines.html?keepThis=true&amp;TB_iframe=true&amp;height=700&amp;width=700" class="thickbox">Comment Guidelines</a><br>