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Canada Governor General Apologises for Honouring Nazi Veteran in 1987

Canada’s Governor General Mary Simon has apologised for conferring the Order of Canada, a top civilian honor in the country, to a Nazi veteran in 1987, who later became the Chancellor of the University of Alberta, local media reported.

“It is with deep regret that we acknowledge that Mr. Peter Savaryn was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1987, and we express our sincere apology to Canadians for any distress or pain his appointment may have caused,” a statement issued by Simon ‘s office to the media said.

Savaryn’s Order of Canada biography includes his experience as a law firm partner, former Chancellor of the University of Alberta, and a World Leader of the World Congress of Free Ukrainians.

However, Savaryn also served during the Second World War in Nazi Waffen-SS Galicia Division, a voluntary unit made up mostly of ethnic Ukrainians under Nazi command.

The Division members have been accused of killing Polish and Jewish civilians, although the unit has not been found guilty of any war crimes by a tribunal.

Concerns arose over Savaryn’s background in the wake of a scandal over Yaroslav Hunka, a Ukrainian-Canadian veteran who served in the same Waffen-SS unit as Savaryn.

On September 22 Hunka was praised by then-Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons Anthony Rota, who later apologised and stepped down on September 26.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also apologised on behalf of the country for the incident, saying that it was “a mistake that deeply embarrassed parliament and Canada”

In its statement, Simon’s office further said that historical appointments would have been made relative to the specific moment and “limited information sources available at that time”.

In instances where more information comes to light after an appointment, termination is possible.

Yet Savaryn’s appointment was terminated when he died in 2017, per protocol.

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