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Quebec Cree Chief wants Ahenakew to lose Order of Canada
Last updated Dec 17 2002 01:21 PM EST
CBC News

The Grand Chief of the Grand Council of Crees of Quebec says David Ahenakew should be stripped of his membership in the Order of Canada.

"This is going to create damages and ripples against all of the Cree communities," Ted Moses says.

He says Akhenakew's comments are "unacceptable" and that the progress and support that has been gained by native people from other communities over the years has been put at risk by the comments.

Moses says Ahenakew went "overboard" and off "the deep end" with his statement.

"The Order of Canada is a very prestigious award. It's an award vested to an individual for his contribution to Canadian society and if that person comes out with racist and hatred-type of statements, I think consideration should be given for the removal of such recognition," Moses says.


The Saskatchewan native leader apologized for comments he made praising Adolf Hitler for the Holocaust.

Ahenakew told a news conference Tuesday that he was wrong and he has resigned from all public roles associated with Saskatchewan's native leadership.

"I want to publicly state that words cannot describe how sorry I am for the hurt I have caused," he said. "Such comments have no excuse."

The former head of the Assembly of First Nations and Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations made the comments to a reporter for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix after a profanity-laced speech last Friday.

"That's how Hitler came in. That he was going to make damn sure that Jews weren't going to take over," Ahenakew told the reporter in a taped interview. "That's why he fried six million of those guys."

The RCMP has been called in to investigate his remarks.

Ahenakew, a war veteran, said repeatedly Tuesday that he was wrong to make the comments.

"I cannot describe the feelings of regret I have for making those statements," he said. Ahenakew said he had hurt not only Jews and other minorities, but also First Nations people.

"I have clearly embarrassed my people."

He said he was immediately resigning from the senate of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations as well as all other public positions. Ahenakew said he did not believe in the views he expressed last week.

"I was caught up in the heat of the moment. I was attempting to spark debate on what has been happening to our First Nations people."

Comments made "in anger"

He said the comments were made in anger and frustration over the plight of native people in Canada. But he said that did not excuse his remarks. Ahenakew's comments caused a storm when they were reported on Monday.

Jewish leaders and politicians condemned him, saying he should be stripped of his Order of Canada.

On Tuesday, Canadian Jewish Congress president Keith Landy called the apology a "positive gesture," but stopped short of accepting it.

Ahenakew was FSIN chief from 1968 to 1978 and AFN chief from 1982 to 1985. He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1978.

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Listen to David Ahenakew's apology followed by Ted Moses interviewed on Radio Noon (runs 10:16)

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