Manitobans pay tribute to Nelson Mandela

The death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela is being mourned by many in Manitoba today, including premiers past and present and those who have ties to South Africa.
The death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela is being mourned by many in Manitoba, including those who have ties to South Africa. 2:05

The death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela is being mourned by many in Manitoba today, including premiers past and present and those who have ties to South Africa.

Mandela died peacefully at his home in Johannesburg on Thursday following a prolonged lung infection. He was 95 years old.

Current South African President Jacob Zuma has declared a week of mourning that will include several services, ending with burial in Mandela's ancestral home of Qunu, a small village in the Eastern Cape, on Dec. 15.

A memorial service at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg will be held next Tuesday.

In Winnipeg, people came to the Manitoba legislature on Friday to write down their thoughts and feelings in a book of condolence.

Among those who signed the book was Elvis Antoine, who said many aboriginal people hold Mandela in high esteem because of everything he had gone through to hold on to his convictions.

"He's a great statesman, and I don't think there's anybody in the world who will ever equal him when it comes to ... giving his nation democracy," Antoine said.

About 150 people have signed the book of condolence at the legislature as of Friday afternoon, a spokesperson told CBC News.

An online book of condolence has also been set up on the Manitoba government's website.

'Emotional for everyone' in South Africa

Many South Africans heard the news of Mandela's death, which was announced on TV by Zuma just before midnight, upon waking on Friday.

Miriam Christensen, who lived most of her life in Arborg, Man., but has been in Pretoria, South Africa, for the past 1.5 years, said many in the country are  remembering Mandela as a peacemaker.

People came to the Manitoba legislature in Winnipeg on Friday to sign a book of condolence for Nelson Mandela, who died on Thursday. (Cameron MacIntosh/CBC)
"It's emotional for everybody here," she said.

"We know Mandela as this international personality. To interact with people who felt it much more personally, it's moving."

Christensen said she plans to pay respects to Mandela when his body lies in state in Pretoria next week.

Bond Freyer, who grew up in South Africa but now lives in Manitoba, said he credits Mandela with showing people how to love and forgive, even after spending 27 years behind bars for the anti-apartheid cause.

"How many people can do that — can go to prison for 27 years and come out and embrace the enemy … and try and make the country better and unified?" Freyer said.

Inspiration for world: Selinger

Tributes also came on Friday from Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, who said Mandela's name will forever be honoured in history.

"He was an inspirational leader for the whole world. He transcended South Africa and became a leader for peace and reconciliation throughout the entire world," he said.

Former premier Gary Doer, who was in Winnipeg on Friday to speak at a Canadian Club luncheon, said he is grateful for what Mandela has brought to the world.

"A huge difference to democracy and racial equality in the whole world," said Doer, who is currently Canada's ambassador to the United States,

"I think all of us who are citizens of this planet owe him a great deal of gratitude for his dignity, his inspiration."

Doer added that he is proud of Canada's role in ending apartheid, even though Canadian sanctions and boycotts — which ultimately helped end the regime — were not popular at the time with other world leaders.

"For Canada, I think it makes us a little bit proud of the fact that people like Brian Mulroney took a pretty strong stand against countries, that are normally our allies, in support of sanctions," he said.


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