Long-time northern Sask. Chief Ron Michel dies at 69

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A veteran member of First Nations politics in Saskatchewan has died.

For more than 30 years, Ron Michel served in leadership as chief of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, then grand chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council. He died late Monday night.

"We would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Senator Ron Michel," read a statement from Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron.

"He was instrumental and played an influential role in my life."

Michel was well-known as a strong advocate for northern Saskatchewan.

He served as chief of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation for 20 years and went on to serve as the Prince Albert Grand Council Grand Chief (PAGC) for 12 years.

"There are some leaders who simply command respect, not only because they display a determined, fierce and confident attitude in their cause, but because they display this vision of determination, fierceness and confidence that is driven by compassion and a deep love for the people," read a statement from the current PAGC executive.

"Senator Michel was one of those leaders."

Michel was also a strong advocate for First Nations children. At a youth suicide conference in 2016, he spoke out about a then-recent wave of suicides in the north.

"We're going to strategize about what we can do about these crises. We can no longer wait. We can no longer stand by," Michel said.

"Things are getting worse … Our kids are crying out for help."

Michel was married to his wife Nancy for more than 50 years. He was 69 years old.