- In 1986, at the height of the anti-apartheid struggle, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist addressed the Ontario legislature.
Desmond Tutu, the first Black Anglican bishop of Johannesburg, visited Toronto 35 years ago and appealed to Canadians to join the struggle against South Africa’s apartheid regime.
In a historic address to the Ontario legislature, Tutu called on the international community to intervene on May 30, 1986, to end the system of oppression in which the majority Black population was subjugated by a government controlled by the white minority.
It was the first time a foreign dignitary had been invited to address the legislature of Canada’s largest province in 34 years.
“Please assist us. Our country is on fire. Our children are perishing. “Tutu, who later evolved Archbishop of Cape Town, said this. “What you do where you are counts and matters if only to those who have their noses rubbed in the dust daily, to know that the world cares.”
Tutu, 90, a Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist for racial justice and LGBTQ rights, died peacefully in Cape Town on Sunday after a lifetime of fighting for the freedom of Black South Africans and other oppressed people around the world.
A crusade journey
Tutu’s speech to Ontario MPPs was just one of many stops on his campaign to rally Canadian “people of conscience” in support of racial equality and persuade governments to impose economic and political sanctions on South Africa.
He was in Toronto for the Arts Against Apartheid Festival, an eight-day event to raise funds and raise awareness about the South African situation.
Lloyd McKell, an activist and educator who assisted in the festival’s planning credited Tutu with bringing to light the injustice that Black and non-white South Africans did not have the same rights as white people.
“It’s a sad day with the passing of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but it’s a good day in the sense that we are reminded of what his contribution to the people of South Africa and indeed the world has been — awakening us to the horror of human oppression,” McKell said. “We are eternally grateful to him.”
“We were very pleased with the general reaction of Canadians who stood up and said, ‘This is wrong.’ This is unethical. This is heinous.’ “McKell stated.
In 1986, the Canadian government toughened its stance against the South African government, with Prime Minister Brian Mulroney leading a successful campaign among British Commonwealth countries to impose trade sanctions.
Source: CBC News
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