Nelson Mandela: Premier Redford 'deeply saddened' by death

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's anti-apartheid hero​, died today at the age of 95. Premier Alison Redford was one of the first notable Albertans to express her condolences Thursday, saying she was deeply saddened by his passing.

Alberta leader worked with the anti-apartheid hero in South Africa in the 1990s

Mandela passed away Thursday at the age of 95. In 2004, when this picture was taken, he retired from public life to spend more time with his family and friends. 'Don't call me; I'll call you,' he joked. (Mike Hutchings/Reuters)

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's anti-apartheid hero​, died today at the age of 95. 

Premier Alison Redford, who worked with Mandela in the 1990s, said the man made incredible personal sacrifices. 

In a statement released Thursday, Redford said she was deeply saddened by his passing. 

“Nelson Mandela was a towering icon, a giant of a man and an enormously inspiring individual who courageously spent his life fighting racism, oppression, and injustice. He used his days walking this earth to bring freedom, equality and human rights to his people, his country and to the world."

The Alberta premier and lawyer said she was able to work alongside the South African as part of a team that was working to pull the country out of apartheid and rebuild its legal system in the lead up to Mandela's election as the first president of a democratic South Africa.

“What he always reminded me of when we worked together and it’s what I think of every day now is everything we do in public service has to be about how those changes or those decisions impact people every day of their life. And he could always understand that because he had been part of that.”

Redford said she first met him when he was quite young at a rally in Queen's Park in Toronto. 

"He was a man who listened to people and he always knew that the people that he needed to listen to were not always experts and they were not people who necessarily represented great political movements, but they were people who had life experiences.”

'Great moral leader': Harper

Prime Minister Stephen Harper also sent out a statement memorializing Mandela "on behalf of all Canadians." 

“With the death of Nelson Mandela, the world has lost one of its great moral leaders and statesmen. Mr. Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years by the former Government of South Africa, for his part in the struggle that would ultimately end the system of apartheid," wrote Harper. 

“Nelson Mandela’s enduring legacy for his country, and the world, is the example he set through his own ‘long walk to freedom.’ With grace and humility, he modelled how peoples can transform their own times and in doing so, their own lives."

Canada celebrated Mandela by bestowing him with an honorary citizenship in 2001.

Growing appreciation 

Calgary sociology professor Amal Madibbo said Thursday that Mandela is "an all-time hero and a hero for all times."

"For me thinking about his death, was celebrating his life," said Madibbo, who teaches about race and ethnicity in Africa.

"Our appreciation for him only increases as time goes by. That is why I believe that even after his death, the world will continue to appreciate his legacy and what he meant for us, and for our world, and for humanity." 

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