Ron Michel, a Prince Albert Grand Council senator, former grand chief, and longtime leader in northern Saskatchewan, has died.
Michel, 69, died late Monday night after a political career stretching over decades. Among his roles, he served 12 years as the grand chief of PAGC until 2017, and 20 years as the chief of Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, a Tuesday news release said.
"It's a tragic loss for all of PBCN," said Chief Peter Beatty.
Beatty was elected councillor in 1993, when Michel served as PBCN's chief. He said the entire time Michel was in office, he was "always there to help people" and support vulnerable members of the community. As a leader, he said some of Michel's priorities included health and economic development.
He said PBCN and PAGC will continue many of the efforts Michel began in office, but he'll personally remember Michel's depth of knowledge and positivity.
"He had a booming voice. He got your attention whenever you talked to him," he said.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron described Michel as playing an "instrumental" and "influential" role in his life.
“I am thankful for the many conversations we had and all of the time that I was lucky enough to spend with him, learning from him throughout my career," he said in a prepared statement.
"He worked hard for his people. We will truly miss him.”
In a prepared statement, the PAGC leadership — Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte, Vice Chief Joseph Tsannie, Vice Chief Christopher Jobb, and Executive Director Al Ducharme — remembered Michel as a rare leader, driven by deep ties to his community.
"There are some leaders who simply command respect, not only because they display a determined, fierce and confident attitude in their cause," the statement said.
It went on to say they command respect because those qualities are driven by "compassion and a deep love for the people. Senator Michel was one of those leaders." For someone who "never showed anger in the way that many of us do," Michel met challenges with kindness, respect and compassion, the statement said.
"A lifetime cut too short, we are thankful for his service to our people."
Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix