Tributes are pouring in from Canada’s Aboriginal Leaders about the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations says Mandela was a kindred spirit to many Indigenous people in their fight for equality.

In a release Atleo says he proved time and time again the spirit of a true leader can’t be broken.

Betty Ann Lavallee, the leader of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, says Mandela was a moral beacon in the fight for justice and dignity.

She also notes he wore a Metis sash when he addressed parliament in 1998.

The chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Perry Bellegarde, says Mandela showed courage and honour in his fight for his people’s rights and the way he went about his campaign said a lot about who he was:

“Well basically peaceful, civil, disobedience, you know, and he basically took the high road about respect and respecting diversity even in the face of diversity and all those things he endured, he still had compassion and caring.”

Bellegarde says Mandela proved that hope beats fear and it’s something indigenous people need to remember in their struggle for their own rights.

The lead commissioner for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission says Nelson Mandela was an outstanding moral leader, and an inspiration for his time.

Justice Murray Sinclair says the Truth and Reconciliation process that took place in Africa in the 1990’s is probably the best known event of its kind in the world.

He notes Mandela and the other leaders who were voted in when apartheid fell, could have tried to prosecute members of the old government.

But they chose instead to pursue a TRC, so victims could talk about what happened and at times face the perpetrators.

Sinclair says there are some similarities between that commission and the one taking place in Canada, but he explains there is also a big difference:

“This is not a process by which a newly-elected government is trying to deal with the actions of a previous government or a previous regime. This is a government which is trying to come to terms with its own activities of the past along with the victims of those activities so it’s a different kind of a process.”

He adds Mandela set the tone for what reconciliation could mean to a nation and the importance of it.