AFN National Chief Comments on Passing of Mohawk Elder Ernest (Ernie) Kaientaronkwen Benedict

OTTAWA, Jan. 10 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo commented today on the passing of Elder Ernest (Ernie) Kaientaronkwen Benedict, a long-serving and highly respected Elder of the Mohawk Nation who resided in Akwesasne.

"Today, First Nations people across the country join the citizens of the Mohawk Nation in mourning the loss of a respected Elder and teacher, a great leader and a great man: Ernie Kaientaronkwen Benedict.

Ernie was a pioneer in many fields, including education. He was one of the first First Nations people to obtain a university degree and dedicated much of his life to ensuring education was a tool and a vehicle to advance the aspirations of the Mohawk Nation and First Nation peoples everywhere.

Ernie was a strong believer in the rights and sovereignty of the First Peoples. He was a strong advocate for First Nations border crossing rights as well as the right of First Nations to control their own affairs and make the decisions that affect their lives and communities. Ernie taught all of us so much in so many areas, yet everything he did was guided by an unwavering belief in the inherent rights of First Nations. First Nations today have identified education as a key priority to strengthen our youth and our nations. This is very much a legacy of the work and life of Ernie Kaientaronkwen Benedict, who was one of the first to articulate the principle of First Nation control of First Nation education.

Ernie's work in education, community and social development and enhancing and strengthening traditional culture was rightly recognized with a National Aboriginal Achievement Award in 1995. His insight, wisdom, strength and commitment to his people will be greatly missed. On behalf of the AFN, I want to express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Elder Ernie Kaientaronkwen Benedict. Our prayers are with you."

National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
Assembly of First Nations

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

SOURCE ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS

For further information:

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer
613-292-0857 or agaron@afn.ca

Jenna Young, AFN Communications Officer
613-314-8157 or jyoung@afn.ca

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