Former Grand Chief Magella (Max) Gros-Louis, who championed Indigenous rights for more than 30 years as leader of the Huron-Wendat First Nation, has died at the age of 89.
Grand Chief Remy Vincent confirmed the news in a statement.
Born in 1931, Gros-Louis led the First Nation for a total of 33 years, from 1964 to 1984, from 1987 to 1996 and from 2004 to 2008.
According to the Huron-Wendat statement, during that time he worked to enlarge the nation’s territory, brought the community to international prominence and raised awareness of Canada’s mistreatment of Indigenous people.
He was one of the founding members of the National Indian Brotherhood, which became the Assembly of First Nations, and was a recipient of numerous awards including the Order of Canada and the Order of Quebec.
Vincent described Gros-Louis as one of the builders of the nation, and said it would be hard to sum up his contributions in a single statement.
“Grand Chief One Onti, on behalf of the Huron-Wendat Nation, we thank you for walking with us and by our side,” he wrote.
Ghislain Picard, the leader of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, praised Gros-Louis as a respected political leader.
“His contribution to the influence of the First Nations as well as his sense of duty, community and fraternity made him an impressive leader that everyone will remember,” he said in a statement.
“Although his departure leaves a great void, his imposing political, cultural and community legacy will remain etched in history forever.”
A number of federal and Quebec politicians, including Premier Francois Legault, also took to Twitter to express their condolences.
“Quebec is losing a leader, a passionate defender of the rights and culture of Aboriginal Nations,” Legault wrote.
“He contributed to advancing the collaboration and respect between our peoples.”
Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller also paid tribute to the longtime leader, describing him as a builder who advocated for dialogue, respect and harmony