Canada apologises after honouring second Nazi soldier who served in Hitler's SS

Peter Savaryn was awarded the Order of Canada honour in 1987


Canada has apologised for awarding a former Nazi soldier a top honour.

The Order of Canada, a top civilian honour that recognises outstanding achievement and service to the nation, was awarded to Peter Savaryn in 1987.

Savaryn moved to Canada after World War Two and went on to become the Chancellor of the University of Alberta.

He was recognised for promoting multiculturalism in Canada despite serving in one of Adolf Hitler's Waffen SS units in the past.

Canada's Governor General Mary Simon apologised after the issuing of the award to Savaryn by her predecessor Jeanne Sauvé.

"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," said a statement from Simon's office.

"Historical appointments to the Order of Canada reflect a specific moment in time and would have been based on limited information sources available at that time.”

Concerns were raised by Jewish groups over Savaryn's background in the wake of a scandal over Yaroslav Hunka, another Nazi soldier who was praised in Canada's parliament. Savaryn and Hunka had fought in the same Waffen SS unit.

The Hunka scandal led to the resignation of House Speaker Anthony Rota, who said he had made a mistake.

It has also led to calls for Ottawa to release the Deschenes Commission report from the 1980s which probed the alleged presence of war criminals in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday that top public servants were looking carefully into the issue, including digging into the archives.

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