OTD: Nelson Mandela honoured on Canadian stamp

On today’s date in 2015, Canada Post commemorated human rights activist Nelson Mandela on a new stamp unveiled during a ceremony with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

The stamp recognized the special relationship Canada shared with Mandela, who referred to this country as his “home away from home.”

“Our stamp program seeks to tell the stories of people who have had a powerful effect on our society, and Nelson Mandela’s story is among the most powerful,” said Deepak Chopra, then president and CEO of Canada Post.

“Canada Post is truly privileged to celebrate his life, his legacy and his struggle that inspired generations to fight for what is right.”

Montréal artist Ian Drolet design the 2015 stamp based on a photograph by Yousuf Karsh.


During his 27 years in prison, Mandela became a symbol of the moral fight for freedom, equality and justice in South Africa and around the world.

His message strongly resonated among Canadians, who were at the forefront of the global outcry over his imprisonment and of the unrelenting demand for his release.

After his release in 1990, Canada was among the first countries Mandela visited. Four years later, as president of South Africa, he specifically drew on Canadian values, policies and practices to build his post-apartheid vision of a multi-racial democracy rooted in equality and governed by the rule of law.

In 2001, on his third visit to Canada, Mandela was bestowed with honorary Canadian citizenship—the first living person to receive this recognition.

“Nelson Mandela, an honorary Canadian citizen, is an inspiration to everyone who values human rights. As a great champion of freedom, beloved by Canadians, he will forever be remembered as a man whose courage changed not just South Africa, but also the world,” said Chris Alexander, Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister.

The stamp was inspired by a photograph taken by Yousuf Karsh on Mandela’s first visit to Canada in 1990, just four months after his release from prison.

The issue is available in booklets of 10 stamps, which measure 32 millimetres by 32 millimetres, and souvenir sheets with an international-rate stamp.

An official first-day cover (OFDC) with an international-rate stamp was also issued. It measures 191 millimetres by 113 millimetres and was serviced with an Ottawa cancel, which features a floral emblem in the centre.

The stamp, souvenir sheet and OFDC were designed by Ian Drolet with photos by Karsh, Jürgen Schadeberg and Stephane de Sakutin. They were printed by the Canadian Bank Note Company.

Mandela died on Dec. 5, 2013.

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