KINEW, Tobasonakwut Kaagagewanakweb Peter (Kelly)
Ahow ndinawemaaganiidog, Tobasonakwutiban Kinew, Pizhiw O'dotem (Lynx clan), made his journey to the spirit world on the morning of December 23, 2012. He was 76.
Tobasonakwutiban was a well- respected member of the Anishinaabe community, whose life and work was known throughout Canada and the United States. He was a tireless advocate and teacher of civil liberties and treaty rights, indigenous language, culture, and philosophy. He was a pipe carrier, Sundance chief, and high-degree member of the Mite'iwin.
Tobasonakwutiban was born on his father's trap line on Lake of the Woods in 1936 and chosen by elders as a child to be instructed and mentored in the knowledge and traditions of the Anishinaabeg. His knowledge was unparalleled. Throughout his life he loved to spend time on the lake sharing its beauty with his family and friends from all over the world.
At a young age he was taken away to St. Mary's Residential School, which he was only allowed to attend until Grade 8. Despite this, he pursued his education at the Coady International Institute at St. Francis Xavier University, University of Manitoba (BA), culminating in an Honourary Doctorate in Laws from The University of Winnipeg in 2011. He encouraged many to pursue their educations, inspiring many to become lawyers and doctors. He also inspired many to live a life free of drugs and alcohol. In his political career, Tobasonakwutiban served as Grand Chief of Grand Council Treaty 3 (1972-75, 1991-95), and as the first Ontario regional chief for AFN, as well as several terms as Chief of the Ojibways of Onigaming. He was instrumental in the establishment and guidance of many organizations that advocated for language revitalization, treaty and First Nations rights. In the quest to find healing after the loss of his two sons Darryl and Danny, he continued in the Mite'iwin and other Anishinaabe ceremonies, and embraced the Lakota Sundance, becoming a powerful teacher and mentor to many in these traditions.
As part of his life journey, Tobasonakwutiban strove for meaningful action and carried out traditional Anishinaabe ceremonies in the name of reconciliation, with emphasis on the residential school experience. This included giving Pope Benedict XVI an eagle feather in 2009, adopting the Archbishop of Winnipeg James Weisgerber as his brother in 2012, and sharing the Anishinaabe worldview with all peoples, Native and non-Native.
Tobasonakwutiban was a profound thinker. He connected western intellectual traditions and scientific inquiry with Anishinaabe philosophy and cosmology. It was his life's work to share the depth and beauty of Anishinaabe wisdom with the world. He was a founding member of the Native American Science Academy.
He was a beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He joins his mother, father, sons Darryl and Danny, twin Bineshii, and brothers Edwin and John. He is survived by his wife Kathi, brother Fred, sister Nancy, children Pat (Herman), Diane, Wabanakwut, Shawon Kiwetinashiik (Jesse), Nenaa'ikiizhikok, grandchildren Devon, Derek, Melissa, Jennifer, Daniel, Wendy, Jason, Matthew, Lisa, Peshanakwut, Mike, Dominik Oshkii'anang, Bezhigomiigwaan and numerous great-grandchildren and adopted relatives.
A memorial service for family and friends will be held in Winnipeg at Glen Lawn Funeral Home at 7pm on Thursday, December 27. The wake will be held on Friday, December 28 in Onigaming, ON. The funeral will take place at 11am on Saturday, December 29 at the Onigaming Round House.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to CancerCare Manitoba or to the Dr. Tobasonakwut Kinew Fund for the promotion of Indigenous Culture, History and Language, care of The University of Winnipeg Foundation.
Wednesday December 26, 2012
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