Sayisi Dene Elder Joseph Meconse dead at 77

Family held a come-and-go Monday to celebrate the life of Elder Joseph Meconse. Marek Tkach

An Indigenous Elder who was instrumental in promoting the sacrifices and contributions of Aboriginal veterans has died.

Joseph Meconse, a Sayisi Dene Elder died Sunday. He was 77.

“If there’s a way that he could be remembered it’s through his kindness and his love. I also want to say thank you to those showed him love and kindness in different ways,” says his daughter Renata Meconse.

Meconse was an Order of Manitoba recipient who championed improving the quality of life for Canadian Aboriginal veterans. He joined the Canadian Forces in 1962 and he was a peacekeeper in Cypress and Germany, and he served in Quebec during the FLQ crisis.

Meconse left the Forces in 1971 to begin a career with Corrections Canada and retired in 2001.

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“He’s the kind of person that would give you the shirt off his back, he’d go out of his way to give you a ride or buy you a cup of coffee, or to sit down and just talk with you,” Doug Harney, who represents the Aboriginal Veterans Association of Manitoba explained.

During his retirement, he crisscrossed the province to talk to school children and other venues about Aboriginal veterans and the contributions they made. He also worked closely with the National Aboriginal Veterans Association and worked hard to see the installation of the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument in Ottawa in 2001.

“He’s the kind of person you could rely on for anything,” Harney said.

Meconse also made headlines in February of 2016 when he went public after being asked to leave the mall’s food court by Portage Place security. At the time, the mall had a half-hour rule for people to eat their lunch in the food court. He had just sat down.

The incident sparked a protest and drum ceremony, and the mall apologized and held a ceremony. There were calls for a boycott of the mall, but Meconse said he wanted to be part of the solution.

“Aboriginal people have been condemned for quite a while and it’s about time somebody spoke up,” he told media at the time. “And that’s exactly what I did. And now this is the result of it.”

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He was awarded the Order of Manitoba in 2009 for the work he did promoting Aboriginal Veterans and their work.

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