The Anishinabek are mourning the death of respected political leader and traditional healer Ron Wakegijig, Shawani-biness—Bear Clan, who has died at age 67, the Union of Ontario Indians (UOI) announced on May 5.
“Ron’s death represents a tremendous loss for his family, his community, and the Anishinabek Nation,” said Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee in a statement. “When I first got involved in politics I sought him out for advice and have regarded him as a mentor for over forty years. He was the greatest leader I knew on the First Nations political scene in Canada.”
Wakegijig lived and worked in Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, where he also served as chief for 18 years, the statement said. He launched the first mental health program for First Nations youth, as well as founded an alcohol treatment center, the Rainbow Lodge, in Wikwemikong. He helped design Sudbury Regional Hospital’s Mshkikii-Gamig, the Medicine Lodge.
The leader also received the Anishinabek Nation Lifetime Achievement Award, and in January 2011 the Order of Ontario. The UOI is an umbrella advocacy group for 40 member communities totaling about 55,000 people, the statement said.