Nelson Mandela will become an honorary Canadian citizen Monday, making it the first time in history the distinction has been given to a living person.

The former president of South Africa will receive the honour from Prime Minister Jean Chrtien during a ceremony at Ottawa's Museum of Civilization Monday morning.

Parliament passed the motion on June 7, in recognition of his "great moral leadership to South Africa and to all humanity."

Mandela, 83, who won a Nobel Prize in 1993, spent 27 years in prison before winning the country's first democratic election.

Raoul Wallenberg is the only other person to receive an honorary Canadian citizenship. In 1985, Canada recognized the heroism of the Swedish businessman in saving 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the Second World War.

This is Mandela's third visit to Canada, and he is travelling with his wife Graa Machel.

On Saturday, both Mandela and Machel received honorary doctorates of law from Toronto's Ryerson University.

Prior to that, he attended a ceremony at a Toronto public school, which now bears his name.

Mandela's citizenship honour was at the centre of a brief controversy last summer when Canadian Alliance MP Rob Anders spoke out against the motion.

Anders called Mandela a former "Communist and terrorist", and the "politically correct kind of 'lib' left poster-boy of today."