A former Conservative cabinet minister in Brian Mulroney’s government has passed away.
Bill McKnight passed away in Saskatoon on Oct. 4. He was 79.
McKnight was elected to Parliament in 1979 for the Kindersley-Lloydminster riding.
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He held a number of cabinet positions including minister of agriculture and minister of defence during the first Gulf War.
McKnight also served as minister of Indian affairs from 1986-89.
Muskeg Lake Cree Nation said McKnight “distinguished himself as a trusted ally and advocate for First Nations people.
“Mr. McKnight lived with the spirit of reconciliation long before the rest of Canada was ready to do so,” said former Muskeg Lake chief and current council member Harry Lafond.
“He came to our Nation and spent time with our people. He knew that our nations would travel farther working together. He was a leader, listener and teacher — like a good chief should be.”
McKnight retired from politics in 1993 and was named treaty commissioner for Saskatchewan in 2007, a position he held until 2012.
Muskeg Lake made McKnight an honourary chief in 1988 in part for his “commitment and effort to working in partnership with First Nations people.”
“Honourary Chief kihiw mîkwan held a special place in our communities,” Muskeg Lake Cree Nation Chief Kelly Wolfe said in a statement.
“His work on TLE (treaty land entitlement) helped us build a stronger foundation for the future. We are grateful for his work and will always remember his contributions.”
The Cree name kihiw mîkwan means “eagle feather.”
Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.