In a ceremony honouring leadership on Indigenous issues at Rideau Hall, Gov. Gen. David Johnston has apologized for calling Indigenous people immigrants to Canada.
Johnston was referring to his comment during an interview with CBC Radio’s The House Saturday. “We’re a country based on immigration, going right back to our, quote, Indigenous people, unquote, who were immigrants as well, 10, 12, 14,000 years ago,” he said.
A firestorm of criticism on social media ensued as some said the comment revealed a deep-seated colonial mentality.
On Monday, he addressed the controversial remark during his opening statement in Ottawa.
“The better country we desire is above all a more inclusive one that supports, encourages and acknowledges the contributions of all peoples, including Indigenous peoples, the original peoples of this land. Let me apologize for not expressing myself correctly on this matter recently. Indigenous peoples are the original peoples,” Johnston said.
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Some 30 recipients, including Mohawk activist Sylvia Maracle and Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie, were honoured at Rideau Hall, as Johnston handed out honours such as the Order of Canada, the Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division), the Polar Medal and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.
Gov. Gen. David Johnston honours Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie with the Order of Canada in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
Some of the recipients are well known, including actress and former Liberal MP Tina Keeper and Inuit NHL player Jordin Tootoo, while others have been change makers in their communities outside the national spotlight, including Jarret Leaman, who has…