Chief Ralph Akiwenzi, 64, died March 4 due to pancreatic cancer. Akiwenzi served 11 times as the head of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nations council, since first elected in 1981.
The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne expressed its sincere condolences to the family, friends and community of Akiwenzie, and commemorated his passing with a tobacco burning ceremony conducted by MCA Grand Chief Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell.
“Chief Akiwenzie was a respected leader that never backed down from an issue, whether it was a popular one or not. His determination to protect First Nation rights and territories will be greatly missed at Chief’s conferences. He was a leader that cautioned outside governments to take a responsible approach towards development that could be detrimental to First Nations,” Mitchell said following the ceremony. “One of his last accomplishments was getting the Government of Ontario to halt offshore wind development in the traditional territory of the Saugeen First Nations until sufficient research was done. He cited the 2004 Supreme Court decision, which necessitates consultation over land development. In the absence of proper consultation, the Mohawks of Akwesasne are doing the same by opposing the decision made by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to ship nuclear containers along our great waterway.”
The mass to celebrate his life will be held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church on Tuesday, March 8th at 11 a.m.