Assembly of First Nations Offers Condolences after passing of Elijah Harper

OTTAWA, May 17, 2013 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today offered condolences to the family and friends of Elijah Harper of Red Sucker Lake First Nation who passed away this morning in Ottawa.

"On behalf of the Assembly of First Nations National Executive, I offer sincere condolences to the family, friends and all First Nations in Manitoba region and across Canada mourning the loss of a tireless and courageous leader of our peoples," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.  "Elijah's commitment and dedication to asserting and upholding First Nation rights and recognition has helped lay a solid foundation as this hard work continues today.  Leading two Sacred Assemblies focused on finding a spiritual basis for healing and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, Elijah's drive and actions toward reconciliation will continue to be a legacy for First Nation and all Canadians as we move toward improved and renewed relationships based on mutual respect and recognition - two things he stood firm on in all of his work."

Elijah Harper was the first First Nation person elected as to provincial government, serving the Manitoba riding of Rupertsland for the New Democratic Party in the 1980s.  Mr. Harper was named provincial Minister of Northern Affairs and Minister in charge of the Communities Economic Fund Act in 1987, and Minister responsible for Native Affairs later that year.

In 1990 Mr. Harper received the Stanley Knowles Humanitarian Award and was voted "Newsmaker of the Year in Canada" by the Canadian Press following his efforts to uphold the Constitution Act during the Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords.  He also received the title of Honourary Chief for Life of Red Sucker Lake First Nation and a commemorative medal of Canada from the Governor General for his efforts in the public service.  He resigned from the Manitoba legislature in 1992, and joined the federal Liberal Party in 1993.  Once elected Member of Parliament, Mr. Harper was a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Aboriginal Affairs until 1997.

Funeral services will take place at 10 a.m. Monday May 20 at the Aboriginal Funeral Chapel in Winnipeg, MB.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.

SOURCE: Assembly of First Nations

For further information:

Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca


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