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Toronto Hiroshima survivor wants Canada to lead in banning nuclear weapons

Toronto activist part of the group accepting Nobel Peace Price in December.

Setsuko Thurlow, survived the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.

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Setsuko Thurlow, survived the Hiroshima nuclear bomb.

Setsuko Thurlow fights back tears as she recounts the events she witnessed more than 70 years ago.

She was just a 13-year-old schoolgirl in Hiroshima when the United States dropped the atomic bomb in 1945, killing thousands of people, destroying everything in her immeditae vicinity and throwing the city into darkness.

By the time she was able to miraculously "crawl" out of the rubble, her entire school building was on fire and about 30 other girls who were with her had all burned.

"The morning became night because of all the smoke and particles in the air," she said Friday in Toronto. "I saw people who were carrying their own eyeballs as they collapsed, their stomachs burst off them with their intestines creeping out. I had to learn to step over the dead and dying people."

This December, Thurlow will travel to Oslo to join other members of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in accepting the Nobel Peace Prize.

It's a cause she's been championing through many years of activism both in Canada and globally. Her efforts and that of others were instrumental in forcing the United Nations to adopt a July treaty signed by 122 countries to outlaw nuclear weapons.

But Justin Trudeau joined the United States in boycotting the negotiations before the treaty was adopted, something that left Thurlow feeling "disappointed."

"He has to consider this issue as a very personal human experience," she said, urging the Prime Minister to change the course and sign on the agreement.

Thurlow, who has lived in Toronto since 1955 and is a member of the Order of Canada, said modern-day atomic bombs can do even more harm than those of 1945, considering the advancement in technology.

She will continue to advocate for the banning of nuclear weapons. At 85, the main goal is to be able to pass the torch, as the remaining survivors will not be around forever.

"People around the world must know what nuclear weapons do and did to us. Don't let the politicians make all the decisions on their behalf," she said. "Until my last day I will talk about it."

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