John­ston says sorry as crit­i­cism mounts

In­dige­nous Peoples not im­mi­grants, Gov. Gen. says

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - CANADA/WORLD -

Gov. Gen. David John­ston apol­o­gized pub­licly Mon­day for re­fer­ring to In­dige­nous Peoples as im­mi­grants as he be­stowed hon­ours on 29 peo­ple — in­clud­ing the front­man of the Trag­i­cally Hip — for their ef­forts in fur­ther­ing In­dige­nous causes.

John­ston told the in­vesti­ture cer­e­mony he mis­spoke when he said dur­ing a CBC Ra­dio in­ter­view aired Satur­day that the roots of Cana­dian im­mi­gra­tion ex­tend all the way back to in­clude In­dige­nous Peo­ple.

The com­ments, aired on CBC’s pol­i­tics pro­gram “The House,” touched off a flurry of crit­i­cism on so­cial me­dia, where some lis­ten­ers com­plained that John­ston’s re­marks re­flected a deep-seated colo­nial men­tal­ity.

“Let me apol­o­gize for not ex­press­ing my­self cor­rectly on this mat­ter re­cently,” John­ston told Mon­day’s gath­er­ing, which fol­lowed an apolo­getic tweet of his own. “In­dige­nous Peoples are the orig­i­nal peoples of this land.”

The Gover­nor Gen­eral pref­aced his apol­ogy by say­ing all of Canada’s in­hab­i­tants should be en­cour­aged to cre­ate a bet­ter Canada.

“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.”

John­ston was pre­sid­ing over a cer­e­mony in which Gord Downie and 28 oth­ers were hon­oured for their work in rais­ing aware­ness of In­dige­nous is­sues.

Downie was di­ag­nosed last year with an in­cur­able form of brain cancer, and was be­ing rec­og­nized for his ef­forts to bring at­ten­tion to the his­tory of res­i­den­tial schools and to ad­vance the cause of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Gord Downie re­ceives the Or­der of Canada from Gover­nor Gen­eral David John­ston in Ot­tawa on Mon­day.

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