Anishinaabe Elder and University of Winnipeg educator Tobasonakwut Kinew has died.
Relatives confirmed the 76-year-old died on Sunday and a public memorial service will be held on Thursday at Glen Lawn Funeral Home at 7 p.m.
"He was an awesome dad, a very kind man," said his son, Wab Kinew. "He taught me most of what I know about Anishinaabe culture and language, but his biggest contribution was that he taught me how to be a good person in life."
Tobasonakwut received an honourary doctorate from the U of W in 2011, and worked with the university as an Elder and instructor in the Indigenous Government department and Master’s in Development Practice with a focus on the Indigenous Development program. Kinew was born on a trap line in the Lake of the Woods, and has worked to instill pride in his people and respect for Indigenous culture.
Wab Kinew said his father was a residential school survivor and had every reason to be angry at the unjust treatment he experienced as a youth. However, he said his father overcame that and worked to bring about real reconciliation by embracing people from other Indigenous nations, non-aboriginal people, and people from other religions.
"He overcame that and was a true shining example of grace, courage and acceptance," Wab Kinew said. "He was a powerful example for how to be a good human being."
The U of W has set up a fund in Tobasonakwut Kinew's name to promote continued work to further Indigenous culture and revitalization.
Earlier this week, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo released a statement saying First Nations across Canada are mourning Kinew’s passing. Kinew was a pipe carrier, Sundancer, and educator who believed in education for young people, according to the statement.
"His insight into the connections between traditional knowledge and contemporary teachings allowed him to reach across cultures and generations to build bridges of understanding," Atleo’s statement said.
Kinew is a founding member of the Native American Academy of Science and was part of the Assembly of First Nations delegation who visited Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican in 2009, according to his U of W biography.