Yosef Wosk received Vancouver’s highest award, Freedom of the City, from Mayor Kennedy Stewart on March 1, 2022. The first recipient was the Lord Mayor of London in 1936. Yosef Wosk and his father Morris Wosk [below] are the only father-son duo to be accorded the City of Vancouver’s highest civilian honour.

Morris Wosk in front of The Surfside Apartments, 1962

Morris Wosk in front of The Surfside Apartments, 1962

Freedom of the City Certificate

Freedom of the City certificate (Click)


In this clip Yosef Wosk cites the nature of Vancouver as a “garden city.”

He reflects upon… “thieves and lovers among the woods and the waters of Lotusland.”

“What then is freedom?”

A blessing for the City of Vancouver

Freedom of the City Award from the City of Vancouver — See citation about Yosef Wosk


Cornelia Oberlander

Awarded May 18, 2021, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander was a pioneer in landscape architecture and a beloved member of Vancouver’s Jewish community.

Margaret Mitchell

Awarded October 18, 2016. Margaret Anne Mitchell was a social activist, community developer, and a courageous feminist.

Vancouver Police Pipe Band

Awarded January 23, 2014. The Vancouver Police Pipe Band is a musical ensemble of 35 pipers and drummers made up of current and retired police members and civilian volunteers. The band started in 1914 and has performed on behalf of the city around the world, winning awards and recognitions for excellence.

Judy Graves

Awarded January 23, 2014. Judy Graves has been an extraordinary force for positive change as a pioneer and leader working to end homelessness. Throughout her 33-year career with the City, she cultivated caring connections with people living on the streets and in shelters, and served as a tireless advocate on behalf of those marginalized by homelessness.

Jim Pattison

Awarded January 23, 2014. Jim Pattison is one of  Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs and a generous philanthropist who has always remained true to his Vancouver upbringing. The Jim Pattison Group, of which he is chairman, CEO and president, is headquartered in Vancouver and employs over 35,000 people in more than 400 locations worldwide.

Jim Green

Awarded February 27, 2012. Whether it was as a city councillor, developer, university lecturer, opera lover, author, union organizer, or community advocate, social justice advocate Jim Green has demonstrated an unbounded love for our city and all its citizens. Vancouver is better for it and countless Vancouver residents have been touched by his work.

Milton Wong

Awarded August 1, 2011. Throughout his professional career, Business Leader Milton Wong has shown remarkable business acumen combined with a strong sense of social responsibility. He has made tremendous contributions across a wide spectrum of fields – finance, arts and culture, sustainability, community development, multiculturalism, academia, and philanthropy.

Art Phillips

Awarded July 6, 2010. Former Vancouver Mayor Art Phillips is a champion of livability and inclusivity. During his time in office, he fundamentally changed the political and social direction of our city. He has made an indelible mark on Vancouver, and his leadership and achievements continue to influence and inspire the City today.
Book of Freedoms of the City of Vancouver

Michael Harcourt

Awarded February 28, 2017, Mike Harcourt is a former Mayor of Vancouver, Premier of British Columbia, and a published author, community activist, lawyer by trade and the former British Columbia Treaty Commission federal commissioner.

Dr. David Suzuki

Awarded June 23, 2015. Dr. David Suzuki, co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist, and broadcaster.

List of recipients previous to 2010:

Date awarded Honoree
6 October 2005 Dal Richards
5 November 2002 The Right Honourable Kim Campbell
28 May 2002 Arthur Erickson
30 November 1999 Joseph Segal
2 December 1997 Marguerite Ford
8 July 1997 YWCA
7 May 1996 Morris Wosk  (Yosef Wosk’s father)
22 February 1994 George Woodcock
28 September 1993 Dr. Pauline Weinstein
28 September 1993 The Honourable David C. Lam
2 September 1993 The Vancouver Foundation
18 June 1992 May Brown
16 June 1992 Thomas R Berger
4 June 1991 Fritz Bowers
19 February 1991 George Wainborn
19 February 1991 Jack Bell
17 January 1989 Jack Shadbolt
12 July 1998 Bill Reid
12 July 1998 Chief Justice Nathan T. Nemetz
3 November 1987 Cecil H. Green
24 March 1987 Rick Hansen
7 January 1986 Dr. Walter Charles Koerner
7 January 1986 Dr. Hugh Llewellyn Kennleyside
7 January 1986 The Honourable Henry P. Bell-Irving
11 June 1985 John Lecky
26 April 1983 Duke of Connaught’s Own, BC Regiment
15 December 1981 Stanley Noble Stronge
18 September 1979 Mary Pack
29 July 1980 Joseph Cohen
24 April 1979 Jack Diamond
14 March 1978 Jean Coulthard
6 December 1977 Seaforth Highlanders, 15th Field and Artillery Regiment
9 August 1977 William Orson Banfield
24 May 1977 Marianne Linnell
24 May 1977 Thomas McDonald
17 December 1976 The Honourable John Robert Nicholson
27 August 1974 Arthur Laing
23 July 1974 Grace MacInnis
5 February 1974 Earle Gordon Adams
10 April 1973 Harold Edward Winch
13 February 1973 HMCS Discovery
3 January 1973 Reverend Dr George Turpin
11 January 1972 Whitford Julain VanDusen
11 January 1972 Howard Charles Green
16 December 1970 Reginald Atherton
16 December 1970 Prentice Bloedel
30 March 1970 Halford David Wilson
17 December 1968 The Honourable Clarence Wallace
1 October 1968 Archbishop William Mark Duke
27 August 1968 The Honourable George Randolph Pearkes
16 January 1968 The Honourable Frank MacKenzie Ross
16 January 1968 Arthur Edward Lord
20 December 1966 Harvey Reginald MacMillan
20 December 1966 Bertram Arnold Emery
29 December 1965 Arnold Alexander Webster
17 February 1965 Premier William Andrew Cecil Bennett
29 December 1964 Henry Hubert Stevens
29 December 1964 Charles Edwin Thompson
29 December 1964 John Henderson
21 July 1964 William Boyd McKechnie
30 December 1963 Frederick John Hume
17 December 1963 Rufus Charles Gibbs
17 December 1963 George Torrance Cunningham
17 December 1963 Jonathan Webster Cornett
25 September 1962 Oscar Orr
31 May 1955 Stanley Victor Smith
16 November 1953 James Skitt Matthews
1 December 1952 Thomas Brooks
1 December 1952 James Blackwood
1 December 1952 George Clark Miller
16 June 1947 William Merton Neal
17 March 1947 William Harold Malkin
12 May 1947 John Bennett
23 December 1946 The Honourable William Culham Woodward
2 January 1946 Henry DG Crerar
29 September 1941 The Honourable Eric Hamber
30 June 1941 The Right Honourable William Lyon MacKenzie King
4 January 1939 The Right Honourable Richard Bedford Bennett
28 March 1938 Lauchlan Alexander Hamilton
20 August 1936 Sir Edward Beatty, President, CPR
20 August 1936 Sir Percy Vincent, Lord Mayor of London

Morris J. Wosk and Yosef Wosk are also the only father/son combination to named Museum of Vancouver City Legacy Award Honourees. The official citations for these Legacy Awards in 2014 are:

Morris J. Wosk
Born in Odessa, Morris J. Wosk (1917–2002) moved to British Columbia with his family in 1928. He was part of the growth and development of Vancouver as a businessman, community leader, and philanthropist for seventy-five years. Having faced innumerable challenges, his hard work and strict adherence to honesty, fairness and respect for all earned him deep admiration and success in a number of areas. For four decades he was co-owner of Wosk’s Ltd.—one of the city’s premier furniture and appliances businesses—with his brother, Ben. He then turned his talents to the hotel and residential sectors. He became one of Vancouver’s largest and most highly regarded landlords. In his latter years he became a revered mentor to the next generation of businessmen and women. Success in business led to his work on behalf of community organizations, giving of both his time and resources in British Columbia, across the country and internationally. Among the numerous causes he championed were education, health care, social services, libraries and the arts. Privately, he also assisted elderly and indigent tenants, persons needing medical equipment or assistance, and employees with financial problems. We will never know the full extent of his generosity. Morris J. Wosk achieved the rare distinction of being awarded the highest recognition from all three levels of government—the federal, provincial and municipal: he was appointed a member of the Order of Canada and the Order of British Columbia, as well as a Freeman of the City of Vancouver. Besides numerous awards from several organizations worldwide, he was also presented with honorary doctorates from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Simon Fraser University. Married to Dena for 54 years, they raised four children—Miriam, Yosef, Mordehai and Kenny, and had six grandchildren. Morris is remembered as a man of immense joy and wisdom, a gift to the city that welcomed him so many years ago.

Yosef Wosk
Morris and Dena’s son, Dr. Yosef Wosk, is an ordained rabbi, Harvard graduate, holder of five post-graduate degrees and two honorary doctorates. He is appreciated as a master teacher of over five thousand students from kindergarten through adult education and has lectured at universities and institutes of higher learning throughout the world. He was Director of Interdisciplinary Programs in Continuing Studies at Simon Fraser University where he developed seminal programs such as The Philosophers’ Café and The Canadian Academy of Independent Scholars. He still serves as Adjunct Professor in the Department of Humanities. Yosef is a community activist who is recognized as a public speaker, media commentator and published author. He has also been deeply involved in heritage conservation, education, parks and gardens, social services, interfaith dialogue, business, books, and art. He served on numerous government, communal, academic, business and professional boards including the Museum of Vancouver, the Vancouver Public Library, and the Museum of Anthropology.

A major art collector who has curated exhibitions and donated art to many institutions, Yosef is also a champion of literacy, design and the book arts. He has founded and supported almost five hundred libraries worldwide, endowed Vancouver’s Poet Laureate, funded the reflecting pond to complete Arthur Erickson’s iconic MOA architecture, and is the principal benefactor of the Carter-Wosk BC Creative Achievement Award for Applied Art & Design as well as the Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada.

Identified as one of the top ten thinkers and most thoughtful citizens in the province, Yosef is also widely travelled. He has been fortunate to visit all seven continents as well as both the North and South Poles. Appointed to The Order of British Columbia and awarded a BC Community Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding community service, Yosef is included in the Canadian Who’s Who. He is also a recipient of the Mayor’s Art Award for Philanthropy, the Community Champion Special Award from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, a Spirit of Vancouver Award from the Vancouver Board of Trade, an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Canadian Museums Association, and the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals.