OTTAWA, May 17, 2013 /CNW/ - The family of Elijah Harper regrets to
announce the passing of the much loved, respected and influential Cree
leader and Indigenous activist. He passed away early May 17th as a
result of cardiac failure due to diabetes complications.
His wife, Anita Olsen Harper, his children and the Harper family
offered the following statement:
"Elijah was a wonderful man, father, partner. He was a true leader and
visionary in every sense of the word. He will have a place in Canadian
history, forever, for his devotion to public service and uniting his
fellow First Nations with pride, determination and resolve. Elijah
will also be remembered for bringing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
people together to find a spiritual basis for healing and
understanding. We will miss him terribly and Love him forever."
Elijah is survived by his loving wife Anita Olsen Harper, his devoted
children Bruce and Holly. He was step-father to Karen Lawford, Dylan,
Gaylen and Grant Bokvist. He is predeceased by his daughter Tanya.
Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Patrick Madahbee, who regarded
Mr. Harper as a close, personal friend says his passing represents an
enormous loss for everyone who truly wants Canada to be the best
country it can be.
"Nobody understood better the concept of First Nations sovereignty, and
the positive impact that it will have on Canada's cultural, social and
economic well-being," says the Grand Council Chief. "We will miss his
courageous and inspirational voice, and send our sincere condolences to
members of his family."
The Late Elijah Harper was born on March 3, 1949 at Red Sucker Lake
First Nation in northeastern Manitoba. He was educated at residential
school and later studied at the University of Manitoba.
Elijah began his long career in public service when he was elected Chief
of his community at the young age of 29.
In 1981, he was elected as Member of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly
for Rupertsland, an office he held for 11 years. He was the first
elected First Nations person to serve as MLA. In 1996, he was
appointed to the Manitoba cabinet as Minister without portfolio for
Native Affairs, and in 1997, as Minister of Northern Affairs.
He was best known for his historic role in blocking the Meech Lake
accord. Many Canadians will remember the humble, yet, iconic figure,
seated in the House of Assembly raising his ever-present eagle feather
refusing unanimous consent of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. As
result, he was recognized as Newsmaker of the Year by the Canadian
Press in 1990.
In 1993, Elijah was elected for one term as Member of Parliament for the
Churchill riding. In January 1998, he served a term as Commissioner
for the Indian Claims Commission.
Red Sucker Lake First Nation bestowed him the title of Honourary Chief
for Life for his heroic work. He is also the recipient of the
Commemorative Medal of Canada, a National Aboriginal Achievement Award,
the Order of Merit from St. Paul's University, the Order of the Sash
from the Manitoba Métis Federation, and the Gold Eagle Award from the
Indigenous Women's Collective in Manitoba.
Following his active career in public service, Elijah spent much of the
rest of his life visiting First Nations, meeting with Indigenous
leaders across North America, working with charities, and doing
international humanitarian work.
The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its
secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 39 member
communities across Ontario, representing approximately 55,000 people.
The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political organization in
Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires,
which existed long before European contact.
SOURCE: Anishinabek Nation
For further information:
Marci Becking, Communications Officer
Phone: 705-497-9127 ext. 2290
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