Algonquin Anishnabeg Grand Chief John Boudrias dies

·3 min read
John Boudrias was elected grand chief of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council last spring.  (Hugo Bélanger/Radio-Canada - image credit)
John Boudrias was elected grand chief of the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council last spring. (Hugo Bélanger/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Algonquin Anishnabeg Nation Tribal Council Grand Chief John Boudrias, elected to the post in May, has died.

His family and friends announced his passing on social media on Wednesday, after the grand chief said in a Facebook post Monday that he was battling a lung infection.

Charlotte Commonda, executive director of the Maniwaki Native Friendship Centre, said she last saw Boudrias on Sept. 4 when he was co-hosting and performing at the Shawville Fair for an Indigenous People's Day event.

She said he was passionate about improving the lives of Indigenous people through his years of service to the nation.

"It's very hard to hear that John is not here anymore because we all got to watch his performance and that was something he loved to do," Commonda said.

"He was just that type of compassionate person. Friendly, funny, and he will be sadly missed by the Algonquin Nation for sure."

In a statement Thursday, the Algonquin Anishnabeg Nation Tribal Council commended Boudrias's efforts to defend the nation's interests and said Vice-Grand Chief Savanna McGregor will take over as acting grand chief.

In a social media post, the Grand Council of Crees wrote "John's vision was one of unity throughout his nation and neighbouring nations. May he rest in peace and his legacy live on."

Quebec's Minister of Indigenous Affairs Ian Lafrenière said on Twitter that he learned of the grand chief's death "with great sadness."

"All my condolences to the family, loved ones and to the whole nation. Together, we have developed a relationship of great respect," he said.

Boudrias, known for being a passionate musician and full of humour, was from Val-d'Or, Que., about 520 kilometres northwest of Montreal. He was a member of the Long Point First Nation Anishnabe Aki community, where his mother is from.

"He was also very proud of his family roots," said Jacques Frémont, president of the University of Ottawa, on Twitter.

Frémont said Boudrias was scheduled to visit the school on Tuesday for a friendship ceremony.

Michèle Sergerie, the grand chief's first cousin, said Boudrias was a "really big part of the family."

"He was an activist. He was very proud of being part of the First Nations community and that's why he became grand chief. He put all his heart into it," said Sergerie.

"He really wanted the best for our Anishnabeg Nation."

Sergerie said Boudrias was happy man. She remembers seeing him recently at her mother's funeral, and though it was a sad time, "his presence was something very comforting for me."

Sergerie has a four-year-old son and she had looked forward to Boudrias teaching his nephew all about nature and hunting.

"He really had a lot to offer," said Sergerie. "I am heartbroken for myself, but I am also very heartbroken for my child because he's going to miss out on a lot of knowledge that John had to offer."

In his last Facebook post, Boudrias thanked everyone for the well wishes, saying he was waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test.

"Will know results today, but they kept me in the hospital as I battle a major lung infection," he wrote.

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