South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu honoured with Luminary Award in Toronto

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu honoured with Luminary Award in Toronto

Anglican Archbishop and South African Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu was honoured in Toronto Saturday night with the Luminary Award at a fundraising gala for the University of the West Indies.

His daughter, Mpho Tutu-Van Furth, accepted the award on behalf of the global human rights activist, who has retired from public life.

CBC Toronto's Dwight Drummond sat down with her to talk about her father's vision and what lessons South Africa has for Canada when it comes to reconciliation.

Q: Desmond Tutu once called South Africa a "rainbow nation" as he was describing how many people made up that country. Looking back at his fight to achieve it, is it there yet?

A: "Wouldn't it be nice? It's not that easy. Yes we are a rainbow nation. We are diverse in language, in culture, in race, in experience. And we don't always come together quite as beautifully as a rainbow and yet that is also part of our story.

"There is the worst of who and what we are, and there is the best of who and what we are. And both of those exist and our task is always to make what is best in us be what is most overwhelming."

Q: Tutu won the Nobel Peace Prize for standing up to apartheid and trying to reconcile South Africans. And our Canadian history played a part with that because when they were setting up the homelands, this is one of the places that they looked to with our reservation system in Canada.

As Canadians we are also struggling with what was done to our Indigenous people and at the same time trying to move forward as a nation. What can we learn from South Africa's experience?

A: "I think what lends hope is the willingness, the courage, to look back and acknowledge what we have done. And the courage to go through the struggle of moving forward. Because moving forward always sounds good but we kind of have to accept that we meander forward and some things we get right and some things we get wrong and sometimes the story doesn't end where we thought it would.

"And I think the grace that you have here is that you have the opportunity to make a future for Aboriginal Canadians that is different than the past and that you really do have an opportunity to create a reconciled country. And that reconciliation is we are going to live on terms that are different than the terms that we lived on in the past."

Q: With all of the accolades your father has been given over the years, what drove him?

"The underlying connection for all of his choices is always, 'What shows God's love in the world? What is the evidence of God's kingdom? And if what I'm doing is inconsistent with love, then I'm doing the wrong thing.'"