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Governor General David Johnston Would Like To Clarify That Indigenous People Are Not Immigrants

Johnston told a CBC interviewer that even "quote, Indigenous people, unquote" are immigrants.

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Canada's Governor General, David Johnston, has apologized for calling Indigenous peoples in Canada "immigrants."


Johnston made the bizarre comment in an interview with CBC Radio's The House while discussing Canada's 150th anniversary.

"We're a country based on immigration, going right back to our, quote, Indigenous people, unquote, who were immigrants as well, 10, 12, 14,000 years ago," Johnston said.

"Quote, Indigenous people, unquote" is not something you want to hear from Canada's Governor General:

Johnston also talked about the importance of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada, but his remark about immigration did not go over well with many people.


People found the whole thing pretty baffling.

.@GGDavidJohnston did you really call indigenous people immigrants?

"We. Have. Been. Here. Forever."

Quick tip for the GG and others who would put us in quotes: We. Have. Been. Here. Forever.

"Indigenous" and "immigrant" are pretty much exact opposites.

Lest people cannot appreciate this, there's a world of difference between deep-time human migration and "immigration"

Some were more explicit. "I'm so sick of this shit," tweeted comedian Ryan McMahon.

Anishinaabe have been in my home territory for 9,000 - 11,000 years. How the fuck is 300 years here even relevant? I'm so sick of this shit.

McMahon pointed out that the Governor General — as the Queen's representative in Canada — holds a position that makes his remarks more significant, and cause for "righteous anger and fury."

Indigenous peoples in North America have a direct relationship with the Crown, going back to the Royal Proclamation of 1763.

Johnston later called the whole thing a miscommunication. "Our Indigenous peoples are not immigrants. They are the original peoples of this land," he tweeted...

And I want to clarify a miscommunication. Our Indigenous peoples are not immigrants. They are the original peoples of this land.

...although even that was problematic.

We are not 'your' Indigenous peoples, either. We are not your possession.

"We don't belong to you."

We don't belong to you. There is no "our." Try again.

Johnston apologized at a ceremony on Monday recognizing Indigenous leadership.


"The better country we desire is above all more inclusive: one that supports, respects, encourages and acknowledges the contributions of all peoples, including Indigenous peoples, the original peoples of this land," Johnston said in his opening remarks.

"And let me apologize for not expressing myself correctly on this matter recently: Indigenous peoples are the original peoples of this land."

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at

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