THUNDER BAY – Members of Nishnawbe Aski Nation are mourning the loss of artist, educator and former deputy grand chief Goyce Kakegamic.
Kakagemic, who served as deputy grand chief from 1997 to 2006 and from 2012 to 2015, was instrumental in helping to establish the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and also helped launch the Embrace Life program to help youth develop the life skills they need and strategies for healing.
Kakagemic also helped develop Oshki-Pimache-O-Win: The Wenjack Education Institute and an Aboriginal trades school at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School.
Born in 1948 in Sandy Lake First Nation, he was the brother-in-law of famed Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau, who along with Cree artist Carl Ray, influenced his artistic side.
Kakagemic and his brothers founded the Triple K Co-operative to allow First Nations Artists to represent themselves instead of having to meet the expectations of non-Indigenous publishers.
“I had the pleasure of working under Goyce for many years and was moved by his determination to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our members, especially our youth. Powered by conviction and grounded by faith, Goyce was not shy about expressing his feelings and never wavered from his convictions, no matter how great the challenge,” said NAN deputy chief Bobby Narcisse, speaking on behalf of the executive council.
“Goyce was passionate about education and the well-being of youth and their families. He was determined to close the significant gap experienced by students in our communities compared with those in urban centres. He led tremendous work to ensure that our youth received quality education opportunities and took every opportunity to encourage and support them throughout their academic careers.”
Kakagemic, who died at 73, was also a school counselor in Red Lake in the 1970s and 1980s and in 2007 was given an honourary doctorate by Lakehead University for his work to improve the lives of Indigenous people.