Nelson Mandela’s ties to Canada were forged long before he earned global praise for his role in bringing an end to apartheid rule in South Africa. Here are some key events that helped cement his relationship with Canada:

1986: Canada implements trade sanctions against South Africa, curtailing a relationship valued at the time at $500 million.

Feb. 11, 1990: Mandela is released from prison after 27 years behind bars on Robben Island.

Feb. 12, 1990: Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sends Mandela a letter inviting him to visit Canada and offering him help to build a new, non-racial South African democracy.

June 17, 1990: Mandela arrives in Canada for his first visit to the country. Mulroney announces the establishment of a $5 million fund to help relocate South African exiles. Mandela addresses parliament in Ottawa.

Sept. 24, 1993: Mandela requests Canada lift economic sanctions against South Africa during a speech to the United Nations. Hours later, External Affairs Minister Perrin Beatty announces Ottawa would comply.

Sept. 24, 1998: At the start of Mandela’s second visit to Canada, he is made an honorary Companion of the Order of Canada. Mandela was one of only a handful of people born outside of Canada to be inducted into the order.

Sept. 25, 1998: Mandela addresses a rally of more than 40,000 students at Toronto’s Sky Dome with Prime Minister Jean Chretien and other dignitaries in attendance.

Nov. 17, 2001: Mandela begins a three-day visit to Canada by attending a ceremony to rename a Toronto public school after him. He and his wife Graca Machel later receive honorary degrees from Toronto’s Ryerson University.

Nov. 19, 2001: Mandela becomes the first living person to be made an honorary citizen of Canada.