A former grand chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) is being remembered for his dedication to Indigenous people in Saskatchewan.
Ron Michel died on Monday at the age of 69.
He was chief of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation for 20 years before serving as PAGC grand chief for 12 years.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said Michel played an influential role in his life.
“I am thankful for the many conversations we had and all of the time that I was lucky enough to spend with him, learning from him throughout my career,” Cameron said in a statement.
“He was a great leader who was kind, compassionate and had a strong, well-respected voice.”
Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Chief Peter Beatty said it is a tragic loss for the community.
“He had a booming voice. He got your attention whenever you talked to him,” Beatty said.
He added Michel was always there to help people and support vulnerable members of the community.
In a prepared statement, the PAGC leadership — Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte, vice-chief Joseph Tsannie, vice-chief Christopher Jobb and executive director Al Ducharme — remembered Michel as a rare leader, driven by deep ties to his community.
“There are some leaders who simply command respect, not only because they display a determined, fierce and confident attitude in their cause,” the statement said.
It went on to say they command respect because those qualities are driven by “compassion and a deep love for the people. Senator Michel was one of those leaders.” For someone who “never showed anger in the way that many of us do,” Michel met challenges with kindness, respect and compassion, the statement said.
“A lifetime cut too short, we are thankful for his service to our people.”
— With files from the Local Journalism Initiative