Thousands of South Africans and nearly 100 world leaders are attending Nelson Mandela’s memorial service today.
An eclectic mix of leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro, will eulogize the anti-apartheid hero.
Watch the memorial service live, below.
All members of Canada’s delegation in South Africa to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life are witnessing today’s memorial service for the former president and anti-apartheid icon.
It initially appeared that only 11 members of the delegation would be allowed inside the Soweto stadium after a decision taken earlier by the South African protocol office.
The prime minister’s office had said Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair, as well as four provincial premiers and several MPs who made the 18-hour journey for the service, would not be allowed inside for the event.
However, all of the Canadians were able to get in during the confusion that reigned at security checkpoints as thousands of people poured in.
The delegation includes Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife, former governors general Adrienne Clarkson and Michaelle Jean, former prime ministers Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Kim Campbell and Joe Clark, Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn Atleo and Canada’s high commissioner to South Africa and his wife.
Harper and company received loud applause when their presence was announced, but it was nothing like the thunderous roar that greeted the American delegation, which includes President Barack Obama and former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
Hamilton’s planned memorial for Nelson Mandela is being moved to City Hall on Saturday.
Organizers felt Stewart Memorial Church on John Street North wouldn’t be big enough for the expected crowd.
The memorial service will start at 11 o’clock Saturday morning and will include speakers such as United Church Minister Abiel Khalema, who is from South Africa, as well as Mayor Bob Bratina.
Everyone is welcome to attend.
President Barack Obama has shaken hands with Cuban President Raul Castro at the memorial service.
The handshake between the leaders of the two Cold War enemies came during a ceremony that’s focused on Mandela’s legacy of reconciliation.
Obama was greeting a line of world leaders and heads of state attending the memorial in Johannesburg.
He also shook hands with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who has clashed with Obama over alleged National Security Agency spying.
The U.S. and Cuba have recently taken small steps toward rapprochement, raising hopes the two nations could be on the verge of a breakthrough in relations.
But skeptics caution that the two countries have shown signs of a thaw in the past, only to fall back into old recriminations.
(with files from The Canadian Press & The Associated Press)