North Korean defector Shin Dong-hyuk, who escaped from a notorious gulag in the North, on Tuesday received an honorary doctorate of laws from Dalhousie University, the oldest university in Canada established in 1818.
Dalhousie praised Shin for shedding light on human rights violations in the North and changing the direction of international debate about the isolated country.
"I feel like I'm dreaming," Shin said in a speech at the university.
Born at the prison camp in Kaechon, South Pyongan Province, Shin suffered forced labor, torture and other abuses for 23 years. Since he fled the North in 2005, he has played a prominent role raising awareness of human rights violations there.
Last June he received the Moral Courage Award from the Geneva-based human rights group UN Watch.
A book about his ordeal by former Washington Post reporter Blaine Harden titled "Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West" was published in about 20 languages.