Honouring and paying respects to a Wuskwi Siphik elder and friend
Buddy Brass was born January 29, 1930 in the Nordval Nursery of Birch River. Louise and Donald Brass had a family of eight; Buddy was third youngest.
At a very young age he loved being a baseball pitcher and thrived with his Bowsman Maroons teammates, which later in life led him to be inducted into the Manitoba Baseball of Fame.
He travelled all over the country with various baseball teams made up of mostly African Americans and aboriginals from all different cultures and languages. He really did enjoy the life of being a baseball player that had it all except money, which didn’t mean much for him at the time.
Often, Buddy would entertain people by telling stories of his adventures with new found friends leading from one team to another.
I remember Buddy used to umpire many of the games in Birch River, Manitoba where laughter and good sportsmanship were the key to a successful game.
Buddy had the strength and pride to overcome all varieties of racism and ignorance along his path towards his baseball career and his negotiations on behalf of our community.
Buddy was always a character when it came to teasing, laughing and enjoying life to the fullest with his friends and band membership. He always spoke of bringing back the forest and natural resources back to the first nation to manage and care for as we always did.
One of his last acts of negotiations that he did was with the Province of Manitoba on a protected areas initiative with the Four Bears resource Management group made up of our neighboring First Nation Communities (Tootinaowaziibeeng First Nation Pine Creek First Nation and Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation) in the spring of this year. This initiative would protect the forests and wildlife within that region, thus ensuring that the future generations of our region would always have a protected area in which the animals would repopulate and grow for future generations.
When it came to negotiating and trading, buddy was the best at his craft and had it down to a science of knowing and understanding the products , which was mostly natural products made up of berries, furs and herbs that he would trade with local merchants and gatherers. Chiefs and Council members from all over Manitoba would always welcome the knowledge of his words and advice on issues regarding the First Nations that we have to face on a daily basis.
Buddy had such a profound impact on our community an membership that I myself will always remember the hard work and persistence that he showed, without ever asking for payment or honorarium for the time to help his community. Those words of respect and pride are now lost forever and we can only hope that the teachings that Buddy Brass has provide to us will carry on for generations to come.
His funeral will be held at the Birch River Legion Hall on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 29, 2014.
We thank you Buddy for your friendship and commitment. You will always be remembered as a leader, brother and friend of our community.
Darren Audy, Band councilor
Wuskwi Siphik First Nation