|Suzuki and his twin sister were born on March 24, 1936, in a Vancouver hospital. Suzuki is a third-generation Japanese-Canadian, his grandparents having moved to Canada at the beginning of the 20th century.
Suzuki accredits his love of nature to his father, who would take Suzuki on camping and fishing trips often in his youth. Suzki feels that this experience helped to “reinforce a connection with the environment and nature” that “can not be experienced in urban settings”.
Suzuki’s father was a firm believer in the importance of public speaking skills and dance; two skills he believed most Japanese Canadians lacked. Suzuki praced giving speeches in his basement in Ontario with his father until they were memorized. Suzuki uses this memorization process in his broadcast work today.
During WWII, Suzuki’s father was sent to a labour camp in B.C.’s interior. The rest of his family was sent to an internment camp in Slocan City, hundreds of kilometres away. The family property, including the family dry-cleaning business, was seized by the B.C. Government and sold. After the war, the family was reunited but forced to move to Ontario.
During his internment at Slocan, Suzuki attended an elementary school. He jumped from grade one to grade four over the course of one year.
After completeing highschool in Ontario, Suzuki decided to attend post-secondary school in the United States. He was offered a significant scholarship from Amherst College, outside of Boston. The College was well-known as a liberal arts college, where Suzuki found himself “immersed with students who challenged [him] to excell in reaching new ideas”.
Suzuki intended to study medicine, but after enrolling in a genetics class during his third year, Suzuki found a new passion in studying genetics, “astonished at the beauty of the insights” provided. Suzuki initially focused his research on the lives of fruit flies. He found a love for teaching when he began to explain his work to his parents.
Suzuki graduated with a B.A. in Biology in 1958. He continued with graduate studies, attending Berkeley for a time, and earned a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Chicago in 1961.
Suzuki has been presented with honorary degrees (all doctorates) from schools in Canada, The United States, and Australia.
Suzuki’s first broadcasting experience was a university television program called Your University Speaks. He also worked on a science radio program, Quirks and Quarks. In 1974, Suzuki hosted a half-hour show sponsored by Science Magazine. The show merged with CBCs The Nature of Things in 1979, with Suzuki taking over as the new host.
The CBC began broadcasting The Nature of Things, originally hosted by Dr. Donal Ivey, is a half-hour program covering everything from the human body to the Aurora Borealis and the science fiction work of Isaac Asimov. Suzuki continues to host the program nearly 30 years later. The pogram has aired in nearly fifty countries worldwide.
Suzuki has also hosted a PBS series called A Secret Life, and a CBC program titled The Sacred Balance.
He hosted A Planet for the Taking in 1985 which averaged over 1.8 million viewers per episode and earned Suzuki a United Nations Environment Programme Medal,
Suzuki is the author of over 30 books, including 15 childrens books.
Suzuki was awarded the Order of Canada in 1976, Canada’s most presitigious award. He has also been awarded the Order of British Columbia (1986), UNESCO’s Kalinga Prize for Science (1986).
Suzuki was nominated as one of the “Top 10 Greatest Canadians”, a television special run by CBC in 2004. Suzuki finished 5th.
The Suzuki Foundation: “Nature is our home. And just as we take care of our house, we also must take care of nature”.
The David Suzuki Foundation works through science and education to protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life, now and for the future.
An independent charity, the Foundation does not accept government grants and is supported with the help of some 50,000 individual donors across Canada and around the world.
It is an independent charity that does not accept government grants, supported only through donations of some 50,000 individuals across Canada and around the world. The Foundation works through education and science to “protect the diversity of nature and our quality of life, now and for the future”.
His work on THE NATURE OF THINGS has won him three Gemini Awards and an ACTRA Award as Best Host
Suzuki has been married twice. His first marriage was to Setsuko Sunahara (from 1958 to 1965) and they had three children. Suzuki attributes the failure of his first marriage to his commitment to his research and neglecting his family.
He married Dr. Tara Cullis in 1972 and has had two children since. Cullis is the President of the Suzuki Foundation.
Severn, a daughter from the second marriage, has received media attention for following down a similar path as her father. She has gained attention as an environment activist.
The family name, Suzuki, is usually written with Japanese characters meaning ‘bell tree’. The name is believed to have been taken from Japan’s lovely pampus grass.