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 today 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 honorary 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 trapline at the Lake of the Woods.
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 dad worked to bring about reconciliation by embracing indigenous people from other 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."
Tobasonakwut Kinew studied at the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University and at the University of Manitoba. He served as Grand Chief of Grand Council Treaty 3 and as the first Ontario regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations.
The U of W has set up a fund in Tobasonakwut Kinew's name to promote continued work furthering 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, the statement read.
"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 wrote.
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.