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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
Home > Press centre > Press releases > 2011 > August 4, 2011

Death of the spiritual leader of the Algonquins

Minister Geoffrey Kelley offers his condolences

Québec City, August 4, 2011 – Geoffrey Kelley, Minister responsible for Native Affairs, offers his sincere condolences to all the members of the Algonquin Nation and to the family and friends of Mr. William Commanda, who died yesterday at age 97.

For 19 years (1951-1970), Mr. Commanda shaped the destiny of the Algonquin Reserve of Kitigan Zibi, a community in the Ottawa Valley region. Over the years, he became a highly respected spokesperson by promoting his values of peace, respect for nature, and harmony among peoples at every opportunity. He also played a role on the international stage a number of times, taking part in ceremonies alongside great humanitarians such as Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama.

"The Algonquin Nation and all the First Nations of Québec and Canada are in mourning. The influence and commitment of this Anishnabe elder extended far beyond the world of the Algonquins. The man known by his people as Ojigkwanong became a leading spiritual guide. Almost one hundred years old when he passed away, this very charismatic man with exceptional strength of character leaves us an invaluable legacy of wisdom.

"Deeply attached to his roots and generous in sharing the traditional knowledge that he guarded, Mr. Commanda was also a greatly talented artisan. We have lost a strong and caring man and a wonderful ambassador of Native culture.

"Mr. Commanda's departure will leave a tremendous emptiness in the hearts of many people, but I know that his spirit will continue to inspire us for many more years to come," said Mr. Kelley.

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