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Mourners line up to pay respects to Elijah Harper

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Hundreds of mourners paid their final respects at the Manitoba Legislature today to Elijah Harper, whose body lay in state.

The iconic Aboriginal leader's death drew crowds from across the city, the province and Canada to pay homage to the man.

Visitors signed guest books while traditional drummers and singers performed in the background.

Harper, who as a member of the legislature blocked the Meech Lake constitutional accord in 1990, died Friday at age 64.

A statement released by his family on Friday said he died in Ottawa from cardiac failure caused by diabetes complications.

A funeral service takes place at 7 p.m. this evening at the Glory and Peace Church, 1296 Main St. A burial service will take place Thursday in Red Sucker Lake, where Harper was born and was once chief of the Ojibwa-Cree Red Sucker Lake First Nation.

It wasn’t until she saw hundreds lining up at legislature today to see her grandfather lying in state, that the magnitude of Elijah Harper’s life hit 17-year-old Anna Harper.

"I knew he was important," said the Ottawa resident. "I didn’t know he had such an impact. I know another side of him -- like eating turkey with him at Thanksgiving and watching the hockey game."

Her grandfather was an avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan, she said. On Thursday, she’ll be attending his burial with scores of family and friends at Red Sucker Lake, Man.

Alex Thomas, 15, from Red Sucker Lake read about his Uncle Elijah in a social studies book.

"I just want to be like him. He was a good person," Thomas said, standing across from his uncle’s open casket draped with the Manitoba flag and a ceremonial head dress.

National Grand Chief Shawn Atleo paid his respects Monday at the legislature as well as Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak.

Other high-profile mourners like Justice Murray Sinclair who led the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission waited in line with hundreds of others to sign guest books set up at two tables.

Hundreds of mourners from across the city, the province and Canada lined up to pay their final respects at the legislature where the body of Elijah Harper lies in state.

History

Updated on Monday, May 20, 2013 at 6:46 PM CDT: adds video

6:56 PM: updates story

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