Hereditary Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, Ernest George, has died

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After a life lived entirely on the land of his ancestors, Hereditary Chief of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, elder Ernest George, has died at the age of 80.

George, who carried the hereditary name Slá'hólt and was also known by the nicknames, Ernie and Iggy, could trace his genealogy and the Tsleil-Waututh hereditary chieftainship back to the mid 1700s.

Born Feb. 5, 1940, George died on Nov. 11.

An outpouring of condolences for his family from Indigenous, municipal and academic leaders lit up social media shortly thereafter.

One of the first elders-in-residence at Capilano University in North Vancouver, George spent eleven years sharing his knowledge on campus.

He was a member of many committees and helped develop the Kéxwusm-áyakn Centre, a gathering place at the institution for Indigenous students.

Beloved by staff and students, the school's president, Paul Dangerfield, released a statement following George's passing.

"We have been privileged beyond knowing to have Elder Ernie's wisdom, humour and kindness reflected in the spirit of the CapU community," says the statement.

A father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, George was a residential school survivor who lived his whole life on the Tsleil-Waututh (Burrard) Inlet. According to the statement, George "opened hearts and minds to painful realities and the importance of reconciliation."

In a social media post, the District of North Vancouver tweeted the city has lost a respected elder and community leader.

Independent MP for Vancouver-Granville, Jody Wilson-Raybould tweeted she was fortunate to have known George, who was both a very special, and very kind, man.

In a written statement on Friday, Tsleil-Waututh Nation asked the community to not gather or attend the private funeral service scheduled for George on Monday due to COVID-19.

"We understand this is a difficult time for families and relatives and that many people would have liked to attend but at this time it is impossible due to COVID-19 pandemic," the release stated.

A small, private funeral service for immediate family only will be live streamed through Glenhaven Funeral Home at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.