Death of William Commanda : The soul of a Nation has died
By IDDPNQL on Wednesday 3 August 2011, 13:37 - Permalink
August 3, 2011- The soul and the heart of a nation has died; William Commanda, spiritual leader of the Algonquin Nation, passed away this morning at 4:30 am at the age of 97.
“A page our history has closed with William Commanda, but Algonquin people will have an everlasting memory of a great man dedicated to defending his people and to the protection of the environment,” said Vice Grand Chief of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council, Ms Marlène Jérôme.
Born November 11, 1913, William Commanda, whose real name Ojigkwanong (Morning Star), was the great-grand-son of Pakinawatik, an Algonquin leader who led his people from Lake of Two Mountains near Montreal, to the site of the current Indian reserve of Kitigan Zibi in 1854 (then known as the River Desert Reserve). William Commanda was Chief of the community as his illustrious great-grandfather, from 1951 to 1970. He was also chosen as supreme leader of the only movement for the creation of Aboriginal self-government, the North American Indian Nation Government in 1945. The creation of this government was in response to the government who then refused all rights to indigenous peoples. Several leaders who had supported the creation of this government had subsequently been prosecuted by the federal government and were sentenced to prison for conspiracy.
Former trapper and woodsman, William Commanda was also known for his mastery of the art of building birchbark canoes. But above all, he was recognized as the guardian of the sacred wampum belts in recent years, including the famous wampum of the Seven Prophecies considered as a founding document of the Algonquin Nation. He has lectured exensively on the subject around the world. He was over the past several years the spiritual leader of an international peace movement, the Circle of Nations, and invited every year in early August to his home. Over years hundreds of visitors from around the world have come to hear his teachings. He promoted good relations between nations and the protection of Mother Earth.
Though humble, he also met most of the major political and spiritual leaders of the world. He found himself alongside the Dalaï Lama in 1990 in Ottawa and later in 1998 Nelson Mandela. In 2008, he received the Order of Canada from the Governor General, Michaël Jean. He made many moving speeches to the United Nations, for the adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
The will be funeral vigil at his home in Kitigan Zibi from tonight and a service will be held Friday afternoon at the same place.
Source: Georges Lafontaine