By Jeff Labine, tbnewswatch.com
Nishnawbe Aski Nation has lost one of its revered leaders.
Former NAN Grand Chief Frank Beardy died Thursday following a lengthy illness. He was 62 years old.
Born in 1950 in Bearskin Lake First Nation, about 400 kilometres North of Sioux Lookout, Beardy became an active advocate for a northern communication system in the 1970s and helped to establish the Wawatay Native Communications Society.
Following that accomplishment, Beardy jumped into politics and become the chief of Muskrat Dam First Nation for nine years in the 80s and 90s. He was later elected as NAN deputy grand chief twice.
He was the first First Nations man to be an executive assistant to a provincial minister at Queen’s Park when he worked with Minister of Northern Development Rene Fontaine.
He was also critical in the negotiations that resulted in the amalgamation of the Sioux Lookout Zone Hospital and District Health Centre.
Frank became the Leading negotiator for the Nishnawbe Aski Policing Agreement. This led to the organization becoming a stand-alone police service.
Beardy was honoured for his numerous achievements last year at the NAN chief’s assembly meeting.
“It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of this great friend and distinguished leader and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and the Muskrat Dam community,” said NAN grand chief Harvey Yesno.
“Frank’s commitment to the development of our nation is unparalleled and his selfless contributions are immeasurable. His loss will be felt by all the lives he touched in such meaningful ways throughout his life and work.”
He’s survived by his wife Maggie and their many children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.